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Issue 3: 14th April 2020

SPIRIT OF SALFORD NETWORK

Easter support

The Spirit of Salford Helpline was launched just three weeks ago for vulnerable residents who may need help with day to day tasks. As of 13 April, the hotline has received 3,668 telephone calls, along with 668 requests for support from the website. The Helpline was available for Salford residents on bank holiday Friday and Monday plus Saturday 11 April at the weekend.

The food hub has now gone live to provide vulnerable residents with food boxes quickly. Over 300 food boxes have been delivered to families in need so far, including 140 on Easter Monday.

KEY SERVICE UPDATES

A full list of information about council services and access by the public can be found at council services information.

Council Tax Support

The Government has provided local authorities a total of £500m of new grant funding to give Council Tax support to the economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. Salford City Council has been awarded £3,581,800.

Councillor Hinds – as lead member for Finance and Support Services – has agreed to award up to £150 additional Council Tax Support to all residents in receipt of Council Tax Reduction during 2020/2021.

It is anticipated that households not in receipt of Council Tax Reduction will also be suffering financial hardship as a result of Covid-19. It is therefore proposed that the balance of the fund is reviewed over the next couple of months to determine whether any additional award on top of the £150 may be considered and that the remaining funds be added to the existing £50k available for the current discretionary Council Tax Support scheme. This scheme is open to all Council Tax households in the city. Councillor Hinds has approved that the remainder of the grant be used to provide the same support to new Council Tax Reduction claimants and Council Tax payers in financial difficulties during 2020/2021 through the existing Council Tax Support provision.

The award will be applied automatically once the software provider has enabled the facility to add the additional award. Awards will be made automatically and will not require the Council Tax Reduction claimant to make an application. Recipients will be sent a new Council Tax bill allowing for the award.

Business rates support

Following government guidelines issued in March, we have contacted all eligible businesses, known to us, about discount and grants. Businesses have been sent a text message, email and a letter via post for all identified eligible cases. Systems are being put in place so that grant payments can be processed as soon as possible, and reliefs and discounts applied to their business rates bill.

Grants are available for small businesses (with a rateable value up to £15,000, over 3,200 eligible businesses in Salford), and for business in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector (with rateable values up to £51,000, over 600 eligible for one of two grants).

Businesses who haven’t been contacted and believe they are eligible can contact the council via an online form. The form is also used by firms who have been contacted to confirm their bank details. To date the council has received over 2,000 forms from firms confirming bank details.

From 18 March the government announced that many childcare providers would pay no business rates and that the nursery discount is 100%. On 11.3.20 the government announced it would increase the retail discount to 100% and extend it to include the leisure and hospitality sectors. The relief will apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21.There will be no rateable value limit on the relief.

There have been a number of reported difficulties across Greater Manchester with payment of this grant.  For example, a number of buildings host multiple firms as tenants/on a sub-let basis, but it is the designated sole business rate payer as owner of the property to whom the grant is paid. Firms that are not the sole and named business rates payer are unable to access business rates relief (and so rely on the goodwill of the landlord to pass it on).  Greater Manchester MPs have been asked to raise this issue with Government.

Schools and childcare

The majority of schools (83%) have remained open all week. Around a quarter (25%) of schools have not managed to access the Free School Meals National Voucher scheme as yet.  We are waiting  on the next order of Aldi vouchers to support these schools/ families.

A total of 65 Early Years settings and 115 childminders have closed as of Friday 17th April 2020. Childcare providers have taken the action of ‘furloughing’ their staff, however they remain concerned by the levels of financial business support being offered by the government.

TESTING

Salford test centre launched

NHS and social care staff can now be tested for Covid19 in Salford thanks to a marathon effort over the Easter weekend. All partners in Salford’s health and social care system set up the drive through testing centre at the A J Bell stadium, Eccles in just 24 hours over the holiday.

Teams of NHS and council workers gave up their Easter weekend to get the facility up and running.

Priority will initially be given to staff from Salford Royal Foundation Trust and health and social care staff who are within the first five days of showing coronavirus symptoms, or who are self-isolating due to family members being unwell. Family members who also show symptoms will be tested. Testing is by invitation and prior appointment only, and up to 120 tests a day will be available initially with results available within 72 hours.

The aim is to reduce the spread of the virus amongst key workers and people they work with and keep essential staff in work unless they test positive for the virus.

The Salford centre compliments the Greater Manchester testing centre at Manchester airport. It was set up to reduce travel and allow people who feel unwell to stay local. Safe transport will be provided for those who need it thanks to Taxi Transfers who provide closed passenger cabins.  

Public health services

Services delivered and commissioned by Public Health are continuing. Many have had to adapt how they are delivered with reduced face-to-face delivery and a focus on high risk service users. This includes:

  • Working with homelessness services to ensure appropriate treatment and support for dependent drinkers.
  • A phone based stop smoking offer. The Health Improvement Service is working with GM to get a digital offer in place via an App. The digital and social media campaign launches 20th April.
  • Salford Community Leisure’s Active Lifestyles Team are working by telephone, posting out activity packs and delivering video support in the form of home workout programmes for weight management, postural stability and cardiac rehabilitation.

Schools and childcare

The majority of schools continue to be open, including some were open over the bank holidays. Schools are being supported with Paediatric First Aid accredited child minders to support their staffing. A total of 66 Early Years settings and 106 childminders have closed as of Thursday 9th April 2020.

The National Voucher Scheme for free school meals funding is still not working. This is a local and national issue and has been escalated to the Department for Education.

Libraries

Salford’s libraries are shut at present but there is a wide range of services that can be accessed online including Borrowbox for the latest ebooks and audiobooks, plus RB digital for the latest popular magazines.

Salford residents are taking up these services, comparing March 2020 with March 2019 there was over 200% increase in new users of e-audio and e-books, with a 77% increase in loans of e-audio and a 32% increase in e-book loans. Also over the same time period there was a 25% increase in new users of e-magazines and a 30% increase in take-up of them. New library members joining online has increased by 134%.

PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES

Coronavirus Cases

In line with the national picture, Salford continues to see an increase in new cases. As of Monday 13 April, 345 people in Salford have tested positive for coronavirus (an increase of 142.5% since last Monday 6 April’s total of 242).

Stay at home and social distancing

Scientists are due to begin a review of the UK lockdown and produce an evaluation to the Government this week.  Ministers have said it was unlikely restrictions would change.

Last week the Government sent a leaflet and letter from the Prime Minister to every home in the country urging them to stay at home and detailing support available for businesses and workers.

Staying at home continues to be the most important message we need to communicate with residents to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, along with following the Government’s. Please continue to promote the guidelines on social distancing and share the council’s communication messages via social media.

PPE

The supply of PPE continues to be an issue within the social care setting, particularly in care homes. This is vital as the city has seen numerous outbreaks within care homes. The Public Health Team will continue to prioritise the distribution of PPE to those settings and roles that are providing direct face-to-face support to residents with suspected or confirmed COVID19.

GREATER MANCHESTER

Free Metro Travel for NHS and care workers

Andy Burnham announced, last week, free Metro travel from Saturday for journeys to and from work for NHS and care workers to reward them for their dedication and commitment and recognise the impact on their family lives. Discussions are ongoing about similar free travel on buses. The scheme started on 11 April and will continue to 1 June initially.

NHS Nightingale North opens

The new NHS Nightingale North West hospital in Manchester Central conference centre was opened for patients on Monday 13 April. The new hospital is expected to care for up to 750 patients if needed.

ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION

Video blog

Accessible information is being provided in a variety of formats. For example North West Training and Development have worked with Pathways to produce a Vlog (daily, Monday to Friday) for disabled people about the impact of the corona virus. Friday's video is about Getting care and support https://youtu.be/AxetUlc6j5w .

The Down's Syndrome Association has produced an easy read guide to the Coronavirus Act 2020 and its impact on the Care Act.

VCSE SECTOR UPDATES

Government funding for charities

Last week Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced £750 million of funding for the charity sector. The funding pot is for frontline charities – including hospices and those supporting domestic abuse victims. As part of the UK-wide package of support, £360 million will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis

New mental health services for GM residents

New mental health services for GM residents

A range of digital services and online support has been launched for children and adults across Greater Manchester to minimise the need for people to attend GP surgeries or hospital.