More than 1,000 requests have been received by Swindon Borough Council for business support, council tax relief and volunteering opportunities as the Council’s coronavirus support measures continue to be rolled out.
The 11 measures, launched last week with the #HereForSwindon campaign, range from providing essential food and medical supplies to vulnerable residents, to ensuring millions of pounds of vital government funding reaches eligible businesses in Swindon.
Updates on the Council’s support measures are as follows:
Support for businesses
- 800 requests received by the Council from local businesses seeking financial help during the pandemic
- More than £7m has already been applied for and £3.25m has been processed
- More than 1,200 letters sent to businesses in Swindon alerting them to the support scheme - any businesses that haven’t received a letter can checkwww.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus for details
Council tax relief for vulnerable residents
- 360 applications received, which compares to around 90 in a normal week
- Officers are processing these claims and revised council tax bills will be issued to show the support awarded
Any resident who is struggling to pay their council tax due to COVID-19 should contact the Council urgently on 0345 302 2316. Officers will be able to help people who may now be eligible for Council Tax Support or be able to discuss the rescheduling of payments.
- Over 500 Swindon residents have signed-up for volunteering opportunities, including speaking to someone over the phone to offer some companionship or collecting shopping for those who are staying at home
Emergency household supplies for residents
- More than 388 calls into the Live Well Hub this week for emergency food supplies, prescription collections and advice
- Made more than 140 calls to check on the welfare of vulnerable residents who are shielding in their homes
- Packed 55 food boxes and delivered them to those in need
- Delivered 117 emergency bags to those with a urgent or critical needs
- Brokered deals with local supermarkets to provide free supplies for those most in need (we even collected 13, 25kg bags of potatoes from a local chip shop)
We are continuing to work with the army and local food suppliers to make sure those ‘shielding’ and in need of food are getting deliveries and we have set up a separate food delivery service to get food to people self-isolating who don’t have support.
Support for taxi drivers
- Helped over 60 taxi drivers to extend their licences
- In the past two weeks over 60 residents have applied online for library membership to access eBooks, audio books and eMagazines
- For the first time, Swindon Libraries can offer library members free use of Find My Past from residents’ homes. Residents should email their name and library card number to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and begin researching your family tree. Libraries staff have had up to 120 requests already
In further changes to how day-to-day services are delivered, the Council has allowed all NHS and social care staff to apply for a free permit in all the Council’s surface-level car parks, and on-street pay and display parking bays.
For the crews collecting waste and recycling, measures have been developed to enable staff to follow proper social distancing rules. We are also asking members of the public to help keep our crews safe. For example, we are asking people who have, or are suspected of having, COVID-19 to place waste tissues, cloths or wipes in a plastic bag which should be tied up when full. This bag should then be placed in a second bin bag, which should also be tied when full.
Our crews already wear full protective clothing and new measures are being explored to see how we can go even further.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “I am delighted by how quickly the Council has been able to get these vital support measures in place for residents and businesses who are struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Council officers are working round the clock to ensure support is in place for people who need it and that the process is as smooth and hassle-free as possible, and I have already received positive feedback from local businesses.
“I am extremely grateful to everyone who is continuing to work to help people. This includes our NHS staff, police, carers and everyone connected with the supply of food, energy and other vital services.”