Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
We continue to work within a well-established set of structures governing how agencies work together to respond to keep people safe and well-informed during a major incident. As we are in a relatively stable way of working, we now provide weekly updates on the last working day of the week.
Of course, should there be any urgent or significant news to communicate in the interim then this will be done via the Council’s news pages and social media channels. You can also keep informed on all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in Stockton-on-Tees – including new Council support services and disruptions to some regular Council services – by visiting our dedicated webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus
I am also keen to remind people of the help and support that the Council is providing during this incredibly challenging time.
Help for businesses
We received details of the extension to the local business grants fund scheme on Wednesday and are working through the eligibility criteria and guidance provided as quickly as possible to develop a local payment approach. In the meantime we continue to make the original business grant support payments to eligible businesses in the Borough, and have now paid most of these. You can keep up to date on the business support available on our dedicated webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/businesssupport.
Help for people struggling to pay Council Tax
We appreciate that people may be struggling to pay their Council Tax. If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax due to the pandemic, please get in touch. We will explore all possible options with you. Please email [email protected] and include in your email your name and address, telephone number, your preferred email address, your Council Tax account number, and a brief outline of your circumstances. If you are unable to email please call 01642 397108 instead.
Revised Council Tax bills incorporating additional reductions of up to £150 for all 12,000 working age recipients of Council Tax Support are being produced and sent out from this weekend. This additional discount of up to £150 will also be applied to people who become eligible for working age Council Tax Support during the rest of the 2020/21 financial year. It is applied to Council Tax bills automatically and there is no need for people to apply. You can also find out more on our dedicated webpage: www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/counciltax
Help for the vulnerable and elderly
The ‘COVID Community Support Team’, a partnership between the Council, Catalyst and the Borough’s brilliant VCSE organisations, continues to support vulnerable and elderly residents. Help ranges from food deliveries, shopping and picking up prescriptions to making sure people who are self-isolating and may be worried or lonely get the right support they need. Due to low call numbers on Sundays, the team now operates Monday to Saturday and phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. You can call 01642 524500 for assistance or email [email protected] and find out all about it on the Catalyst website.
Help for families with children who usually receive free school meals
The Government has confirmed that it will not be providing the national free school meals voucher scheme to families during the May half-term holiday but schools have made arrangements to ensure that eligible pupils can continue to access free school meals for the half-term week. The majority of schools will continue to use a voucher system.
Help for parents/carers of children still attending school
The vast majority of schools in the Borough remain open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. If a school does need to close and you need help arranging alternative provision then the Council’s School Support Service can help. For more details visit www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/schoolsandchildcare
Help for care providers
The Government has announced additional funding for infection control in care homes and we are seeking details on how this funding will be allocated to ensure that it can be secured and passed on to care homes in the Borough as soon as possible. We also continue to work very closely with the Borough’s care homes, domiciliary care providers and many individual personal assistants and informal carers, who look after some of our most vulnerable residents. They are doing an absolutely phenomenal job. We are in daily contact with many of the homes and care providers and are supporting them as they continue to operate in extremely challenging circumstances.
Help for people getting around by walking or cycling
The Government has issued guidance on the re-allocation of road space to help promote more walking and cycling as people who would normally use public transport to travel to and from work choose other means of getting around. The guidance asks councils to consider heavily-used public transport routes to look at options to support those who wish to cycle or walk, and to ensure facilities such as bus stops are suitable to allow social distancing. We are developing options across the Borough to target changes in areas where they will be most effective and also liaising with neighbouring authorities to apply a consistent approach across the Tees Valley area.
‘Dear Diary’ local history project
We continue to receive some really lovely contributions to our ‘Dear Diary’ project, with recent highlights including newspaper cuttings from VE Day itself a diary scrapbook an NHS worker is filling in as the weeks go by. You can see these – and find out how to submit your own pictures, videos and audio stories – at the website www.stockton.gov.uk/deardiary.
For updates on all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in Stockton-on-Tees – including health advice and disruptions to services – visit the Council’s dedicated webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus