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Issue 4: 20 April 2020

SPIRIT OF SALFORD NETWORK

The Spirit of Salford Helpline is for residents who need to self-isolate and might need help with day to day tasks. The Helpline opened on 24 March, initially Monday to Friday and since then has received over 4,700 telephone calls, along with 755 requests for support from the website. Food boxes have been delivered to 989 households including 103 shielding households. The Helpline is now open Monday to Saturday.

KEY SERVICE UPDATES

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

Business rates grants

The Government has provided additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses as follows:

  • Small Business Grants of £10,000 to all businesses regardless of sector currently eligible for small business rate relief. 
  • Business Grants of £25,000 to all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

Salford has been allocated £47.4m from central government. As at 19 April, 36% of total grant money (£15.9m) has been paid. The business rates team have identified 3,866 eligible businesses and applications have been received from 2,762 businesses so far (70%).
Payments have been made to 1,410 of these businesses (50%). 343 of applications received are still to be processed (10% of business applied). There has been some error/ duplication or fraud attempts 529 (20%) and we are working to resolve those.
There are currently more than 480 businesses across Salford where we need more information in order to pay the grant, i.e. verifying bank details and eligibility. To get more grants paid we have re-deployed significant numbers of staff to process grants and are administering grants over weekends. We have introduced new ICT systems and software to speed up transactions.
A communications campaign has been launched across social media to raise awareness among businesses about eligibility and what they need to do so that the grants can be made.

Greater Manchester business support

£3m of Local Growth Funds has been unlocked to provide local business loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 where they are struggling to access other sources of finance.

A huge campaign to contact businesses is underway in GM, led by the Business Growth Hub. Calls are being made to around 25,000 GM firms, around 25% of all firms in the city-region. This is to ensure they are aware of support available and to offer personalised advisor support.

Business Growth Hub has launched Employ GM, an online portal that connects GM employers who have urgent temporary vacancies with individuals that can start straight away. Business Growth Hub has extended its opening hours to include evenings and weekends.

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.

PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES

Testing

Salford’s staff testing for health and care staff is working well. An e-booking system is being developed to organise transport for the staff who do not have their own. The next step will be to expand testing to staff in other frontline services and get the e-booking system live.

The Salford testing response has been identified as an area of good practice and other North West localities are interested in the response we’ve adopted. This will be raised with Ministers in terms of driving good practice in other areas.

National testing

Last week the Department for Health and Social Care announced that access to testing for those with symptoms of coronavirus will be extended across England. The full list of eligible workers now includes:

  • all NHS and social care staff, including hospital, community and primary care, and staff providing support to frontline NHS services (for example accommodation, catering) and voluntary workers
  • police, fire and rescue services
  • local authority staff, including those working with vulnerable children, adults and victims of domestic abuse, and those working with the homeless and rough sleepers
  • defence, prisons and probation staff, and judiciary
  • frontline benefits workers

Coronavirus Cases

In line with the national picture, Salford continues to see an increase in new cases. As of Sunday 19 April, 445 people in Salford have tested positive for coronavirus (an increase of 91 cases (26% higher) since last Monday, there were 354 on 13 April).

VCSE SECTOR UPDATES

People Services

Further cashflow support is needed specifically for voluntary and community organisations. It is anticipated that only a small amount of the £750m funding announced by the Chancellor will actually reach the smallest local charities and social enterprises, as it will largely be allocated to national charities and hospices.

It is difficult for small charities and social enterprises to access other forms of support such as loans and business rates relief as they are often ineligible. GMCVO is working with the National CVO body to raise the issue about further cashflow support needed for charities and social enterprises.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING

Government pledges extra £1.6 billion for councils

The Local Government Secretary has announced that councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding as they continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding will is intended to help councils to support to those who need it most. This includes getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting new shielding programmes for clinically extremely vulnerable people and assistance for the public health workforce and fire and rescue services.

Salford Response

Today I have written to the Prime Minister to outline the pressures on our budgets created by the pandemic and the need for additional funding to maintain service provision and support our vulnerable residents.  The amount of additional funding announced by the Chancellor at the weekend will not be sufficient to cover the drain on our resources from the ongoing emergency.