Revenues and Benefits:
We have received additional funding to help those working age customers in receipt of Council Tax Support. Up to £150 will be credited to these customers’ Council Tax accounts during the early part of next week. Business Grants information is below.
We have now block booked accommodation in Oxfordshire and are now proactively identifying long-term housing solutions for these vulnerable people across the District.
The exact position in relation to West Oxfordshire as of this morning is that bulky waste collections are still suspended with all other services running as normal, with one crew being staffed for container deliveries. Trade waste collections are suspended for those customers who aren’t operating, as per government guidance. 19 staff are self-isolating. The bulky waste service will re-commence on 27 April, albeit with a slightly different service, details of which are on the website.
Community support/resilience hub
This week has seen a shift in the emphasis of work in the local hub as we move to make more pro-active ‘safe and well’ calls to the shielded list. The latest shielded list contains 1508 residents and continues to increase slowly. We are actively scaling up resource so we can make circa 200 outbound calls a day and will review this on a regular basis. We are also developing a local ‘vulnerable’ list and have started to populate this with our assisted collections data.
Food access remains the main issue and whilst we have made significant progress in opening up food channels for support groups, access to supermarket lists remains a problem and we have raised this issue with government. The contact number for vulnerable residents needing support is 01993 861077 and this will be open throughout the weekend (9 am to 5 pm each day).
On Monday, the government published details of the situation regarding the payment of business grants by local authorities, and West Oxfordshire was in the top quartile of payments made. Work is progressing and we have now processed £20.8 million of grants to 1,663 businesses, and will be considering how to engage with those businesses which have not provided us with the information we need to process their grant early next week. It is important to note that the latest payments will not reach bank accounts until Monday 27 April as a consequence of how BACS payments work. There are around 200 applications which require further investigation (which has already started) as either their eligibility or the details they have provided are in question. We have caught up and are now processing applications on receipt. There are still a good number of businesses who have not applied (estimated to be around 200) and who may be eligible. As mentioned above, we will start proactively contacting those businesses in w/c 27 April. These figures are estimates because we may not have all the information on our system to establish entitlement. For example, we might have a business property recorded as a warehouse when it is actually a showroom. We will start to increase our communication to businesses now that the backlog is cleared.
On 16 April, the Department for Work and Pensions announced that people applying for Universal Credit will be able to use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity, helping to speed up their claim.
Vulnerable people and shielding
The Government has published updated guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. The public health advice has not changed. However, the document has been edited to improve clarity. The key things that have been edited are to make the language around vulnerability clearer, clarify who should be following the shielding advice and who should be following social distancing measures, advice around the letters from the NHS, information on registering for support, and clearer advice on what to do if a shielded person develops symptoms.
Every Mind Matters Public Health England (PHE)
They have launched a campaign to encourage adults to take steps to look after their mental health during this difficult time, using Every Mind Matters (EMM) and its selfcare resources. The campaign is referenced in the updated guidance on shielding the clinically vulnerable (see above). A media campaign is running for two weeks and includes TV, digital and social media activity. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have been supporters of EMM, have also endorsed this new campaign. PHE has created a range of materials to assist – social, digital, print friendly posters and a PR toolkit. These are available on PHE’s Coronavirus resource pages. See also the Every Mind Matters website; and the announcement.
Our receptions/front desks remain closed, until further notice. We have procedures in place to assist any emergency cases but are guiding all other customers to our website and telephone lines whilst Coronavirus demands we protect our staff.
Our website and social media channels have all the latest information concerning how we are operating in the midst of this emergency situation. We encourage you to follow them and check the website regularly. Website: www.westoxon.gov.uk/coronavirus Twitter: @WODCNews Facebook @WestOxfordshire
Please note that the coronavirus webpage includes links to other pages of interest, including the community support page.
The following links are also useful and recommended for periodic visits: Oxfordshire County Council: https://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-informationfrom-the-government/ NHS Advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ Business Advice https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support