Thursday 26 March 2020 – 6.45 pm
This briefing for councillors gives updates on the latest information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact on the borough council and its services.
Council tax support available during COVID-19 outbreak
Support measures are being put in place by the council for residents who may struggle to pay their council tax as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following queries received today we wanted to clarify that all residents in the borough will receive payment free months in April and May 2020, instead of February and March 2021. No instalments, which includes direct debit payments, will be taken out for these two months. Payments will resume in June 2020 and will be taken over the 10 months from June 2020 to March 2021. A recalculated bill will be issued in due course, confirming their new instalment dates. Residents do not need to take any further action at this time to benefit from this change. Customers who pay annually can continue to do this.
For those who normally pay by 12 instalments, their payments will be taken as 10 monthly instalments from June 2020 to March 2021. If they wish to set up a different payment plan, we are asking them to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents who wish to continue making payments during this time can still do this.
Working age residents who receive support though the Council Tax Reduction Scheme will also receive a further reduction of up to £150 on their council tax bills. This discount will be automatically applied to eligible residents’ accounts.
Updated guidance on council tax billing has been uploaded to our website. If residents wish to make an amendment to their council tax account or instalment plan, they should email email@example.com.
Supporting the vulnerable and elderly in our communities
You may have had people in your areas asking you how to volunteer to help vulnerable and elderly people while they are following advice to self-isolate or reduce social contact. The borough council is working with Hampshire County Council and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum on how to provide assistance to residents in need of support with the help of local community organisations.
The borough council has set up a careline for vulnerable residents to register for support such as access to food and medicine during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Residents at an increased risk of illnesses who are self-isolating at home, including over 70s, pregnant women and anyone usually instructed to get a flu jab, and have no nearby family and friends can register for support such as getting access to food and medicine.
This includes other groups who may be struggling, such as Universal Credit claimants waiting for payments and may be unable to purchase supplies.
If you are aware of anyone in your local community that requires support, please ask them to call the council on 01256 844844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then work closely with community organisations to deliver essential supplies as soon as possible.
Alongside the careline, the NHS is writing to people identified at risk of severe illness as a result of underlying medical conditions which make them more likely to be admitted to hospital. Residents who receive this letter should follow the instructions in order to request support. Hampshire County Council will be supporting the government and NHS this support.
If you know of any groups that have been set up or know anyone who would like to volunteer in your area, please direct them to BVA by visiting www.bvaction.org.uk/coronavirus-volunteering or calling 01256 423852 to register.
We will keep you updated on the support available to vulnerable residents and the different channels this will be delivered through. The council’s webpages are also being regularly updated.
Support for businesses
Businesses who are struggling with finances as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will receive support from the council.
Following the government’s announcement of financial support for businesses, the borough council has now received further guidance and will be supporting eligible businesses.
All businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, as well as early years providers, estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls, will not pay any business rates for the 2020/21 year and this discount will be automatically applied to their accounts.
Grants of £10,000 are available for all businesses that are normally eligible for small business rates relief and for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector with a rateable property value up to £15,000. For businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, a grant of £25,000 is available. There is no need to apply for these grants and the council is currently checking eligibility.
As the owner of a number of properties across the borough, the council will also be introducing measures to support small businesses with annual rents of up to £50,000. An automatic three-month rent and service charge holiday will be applied. Tenants can still make payments during this period if they wish.