Please see below an update on the work that South Norfolk are doing, with the County Council and our partners, to help our residents and businesses and the latest information coming from central government.
The Council has a comprehensive mechanism to support vulnerability, utilising our existing help hub model, working with our partners, town and parish councils, community groups and hundreds of volunteers to coordinate our response. On Monday we launched the new County Council number for people to ask for help: 0344 8008020 and residents can also visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus
Our help hub team is in place to respond to requests for help from these new channels and support residents with practical help, mostly around food and medicine enquires.
We are taking delivery of a range of food products which will be stored at locations across the districts. These supplies are to provide us with emergency food for residents who are in need of immediate support. Central Government is also providing food for the most vulnerable and the first load was delivered this week.
We will have a main distribution centre with holding sites across the area and we will be working with the current well-established food bank system to distribute food to residents.
This week, we started to contact the most vulnerable residents via a list created from our own data, County Council and the national NHS lists. These residents are considered to be the most vulnerable and we will be checking they have the support they need.
Volunteering is now being coordinated centrally by Voluntary Norfolk and our hub model is supported by a network of mutual-aid groups that we have set up around South Norfolk and Broadland. These groups help us by allocating volunteers to support local residents and using local knowledge to feed in details of vulnerable residents. This work is key to ensuring we identify residents in our community.
Our partners in the voluntary sector are working with us to recruit volunteers for a county wide effort to respond to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. Already, an additional 75 volunteers have been allocated to work in our districts.
NHS Volunteers- More information about this scheme can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/participation/get-involved/volunteering/nhs-volunteer-responders/
We are working alongside all these volunteers to ensure that help is given to our most vulnerable residents and would like to thank everyone who is contributing to this effort.
Some of the things we can do to help:
- Emergency income to assist with purchase of essentials (Food) or utilities, up to £150
- One off payment to assist people whilst waiting for Universal credit or SSP to commence.
- All working age people in receipt of CTS receiving additional assistance. Further £150.00 deducted from all working age people who are in receipt of CTS. Where liability is below £150.00 this will be reduced to allow Council Tax liability to be zero
- Discretionary Housing Payment from £500-£2k
- Council Tax Assistance, up to 85%
- Discretionary Council Tax Relief
- Universal Credit
- Renters – We are encouraging anyone whose income has been impacted by COVID-19 to contact their landlord immediately, whether that be a registered provider such as Saffron or Clarion or a private landlord. We are aware that registered providers are keen to work with people however they will not know that their tenants are in hardship unless they are informed. Similarly, central government has announced that private landlords can ask their mortgage providers for a 3 month payment holiday when their tenants are affected by COVID-19, it is therefore expected that this saving be passed to the tenant. If landlords are not helping, our housing team may be able to assist, however we do ask tenants to speak to landlords first.
We have already seen a 61% increase in calls to our benefit teams with families starting to face financial difficulties. This will link into the hardship fund described above.
We have been contacting and supporting our businesses and local companies with help and advice on how to respond to the challenges they face.
Our detailed information on the website and FAQs has meant most businesses are able to get the information they need, and we have already had 15,000 page views across the two websites.
The Councils have taken a step by step approach in working through the various criteria and have helped hundreds of businesses since the restrictions began. We have been able to successfully signpost them to the various affiliated agencies handling elements of the available support and explaining the planned payment mechanism for Council actioned support.
Where the Business Support Team has been critical, is in triaging those businesses that need further intervention at a local level, sometimes in the form of a friendly voice offering guidance and advice, and sometimes help in solving a real cashflow crisis.
There are several measures that have been announced by Government in the Budget, and subsequently, to support businesses as they face significant disruption because of coronavirus.
These measures include:
- A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
- A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- More self-employed people will be eligible to apply for Universal Credit
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
- A £500 million Hardship Fund for residents to access financial support from the Council
- Insurance cover related to pandemics and government-ordered closure
This week, in total, we have distributed just under £8 million in grants to 504 businesses in South Norfolk and Broadland.
Our team of advisers in our Economic Growth team are providing support and advice and can be contacted on 01508 533921 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Supporting our vulnerable residents
This week we are averaged 550 calls per day to the help hub from vulnerable residents and those in hardship.
Over the last 10 days we have deployed volunteers on 1090 occasions to support residents with supplies of food and medicine. Most of the residents helped so far, have been over 70 years old, but we are expecting more families to start contacting us as finances become tighter.
We know that some pharmacies are experiencing problems with queues. If your local pharmacy is having issues, please contact us and we will try and help. We understand that there is not a problem with stock or supply, but that part of the problem is people stock piling medicines.
As well as receiving calls we have also contacted 638 of our most vulnerable residents. These have been identified by the NHS, the County Council and from our own data. The number of outward calls will increase as we receive more data from the NHS.
Nationally we have seen a rise in domestic abuse from two deaths a week to seven. Rural areas can be particularly vulnerable, and with families isolating we predict more cases, both men and women can be affected. Any issues please report directly to the police on 101. Support for housing can be requested via 0808 168 2222 (South Norfolk) 01603 430641 (Broadland) or go to the relevant District Councils’ website.