Bristol City Council Coronavirus update 18th March
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Chancellor updated the UK about the Government’s plans. The focus was on additional support to protect businesses.
The Chancellor confirmed he was making available an initial £330 billion of loans and guarantees to support firms.
Announcements included [link]:
- Giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
- Increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.
- Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million
- Providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000
- The Bank of England is to launch a new lending scheme – the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility – to support liquidity amongst large firms
- Mortgage lenders are to provide payment holidays of up to 3 months for customers that are experiencing issues with their finances
- Planning regulations are to be relaxed to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application [link]
The Chancellor confirmed he was working with trade unions and business groups to urgently develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes [link].
It was confirmed the emergency legislation – the Coronavirus Bill – will be tabled in Parliament this week to introduce additional measures covering areas such as the NHS, social care, schools, police, Border Force, local councils, funerals and courts. [link]
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on March 18, it was confirmed the Government would be bringing forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs [link].
The Communities Secretary announced £3.2 million of emergency funding for local authorities to help rough sleepers to self-isolate [link].
It was confirmed Government will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free childcare entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds [link].
It was announced the Government has set up four new implementation committees focusing on health, public sector preparedness, economy and international response, that will feed into a daily C-19 meeting chaired by the Prime Minister [link].
The number of UK cases can be viewed on this dashboard.
As of 9am 18/03/20 there have been 8 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Bristol. Please note, the Government has decided not to test people with mild symptoms. Local authority numbers of confirmed cases are reported on this dashboard and updated each afternoon.
Bristol City Council
All council buildings remain open but staff have been advised to follow government advice and arrange to work from home if their role enables them to. Internal communications remain frequent with the latest information on what they can do to keep themselves safe and well, and practical advice on how to keep working effectively and continue providing our services to the people of Bristol.
We are now looking at how we can redeploy staff to assist in other areas.
As of today (18/03/20), Bristol Museums have closed until 1 May 2020 initially.
As of Thursday (19/03/20), Bristol Libraries will close and provide only online services.
The Citizen Service Point (CSP) at 100 Temple Street will only be handling emergency cases from today for a short period of time while we implement new measures to ensure social distancing for the protection of frontline staff and the hundreds of citizens who attend the CSP on a daily basis. These include protective screens and rearranging furniture and equipment. People attending the CSP are being triaged before entering the main area.
Essential – services that will continue
- Local Crisis Prevention Fund
- Homelessness – if citizens are not homeless on the day a triage can be undertaken on the phone
- Anti-Social Behaviour (severe cases)
- Keys for end of tenancy
- Licencing will be provided by licensing service but will be limited
- Scan Coin machines for payments
- Self-serve computers will be available (spaced out).
Non Essential – services that will not be served for a short period
- Assistance to complete Home Choice Bristol forms – these can be done online or via the phone
- Assistance on other application forms (Housing Benefit, Council Tax etc.) – forms available online and can call for support
- Providing supporting documents for applications – these can be upload online
- EU Settlement applications – these can be done online. Otherwise an appointment at a later date can be arranged
- Travel Card and Blue Badges – these can be done online or via the phone
- Notifying tenancy changes – these can be done online
- Council Tax Reduction – these can be done online or via the phone
- Universal Credit (except in an emergency) – can contact DWP and CAB for advice
- Applying for white goods – these can be done online or via the phone
- Low level Anti-Social Behaviour – these can be done online or via the phone
- Complaints assistance – these can be done online
- Rents enquiries – these can be done online or via the phone.
We are working hard to maintain bereavement services in Bristol and are introducing measures at both South Bristol and Canford crematorium to delay the spread of the virus and protect citizens using the services. Therefore, please note we are:
- Temporarily removing of all the hymn books; most orders of service have the hymns printed in them
- Advising mourners and attendees not to touch, kiss or come into contact with the coffin
- Encouraging the use of wheeled biers to bring coffins into the chapel, rather than shouldering the coffin
- Instructing staff to wear protective gloves and the wipe down coffins before handling
- To help with social distancing paperwork can be dropped off via the letter box and we encourage the public to use email and phone calls rather than face to face. Should you need to meet a member of our staff in person we encourage you to make an appointment using the contact details below.
Public communication updates
Tomorrow (19//03/20), Bristol City Council’s Public Health Director, Christina Gray, will be on BBC Radio Bristol from 9am answering questions from the public with the aim of dispelling rumours and offering public reassurance.
The Bristol City Council website now has a hub page, with all the latest up to date information. It can be viewed here.
We have received an excellent response to our city volunterring ask, publicised on the Can Do website. We are now putting together guidance for the public about how to volunteer safely, with messages about safeguarding and infection prevention.
Volunteer at: http://bit.ly/CanDo-CV.
Within the Trading Standards community we are seeing an increase in fraudulent rogue trading activity being reported elsewhere around the country but nothing directly relating to Bristol as yet. The premise it is exploiting vulnerability, people knocking on doors offering services such as food shopping, cash withdrawal etc. to vulnerable groups. Building up confidence amongst those people which is a form of grooming and then slowly changing tactics to start the exploitation. The communications team will prepare public messages about this.
Bristol healthcare sector
The NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and Public Health England (PHE), are working closely together with our Public Health team to respond to this pandemic.
There are continued questions from the community regarding the government’s decision not to test symptomatic patients, only those in high risk groups. This is not a local authority decision.
The latest information on symptoms of coronavirus can be found online.
Bristol education sector
Four special schools in Bristol have closed:
- New Fosseway
- Claremont School.
The House of Commons has confirmed an additional oral statement from Gavin Williamson at 17.00 today on education settings, so we will have further information then.
Education settings have been asked to assess their most vulnerable families that do not have a Lead Professional and establish means of maintaining contact if there is extended school closures. The Bristol City Council Safeguarding Education is coordinating a communications tree for Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools so that schools can be asked to contribute to multi-agency safeguarding plans in the community. Alternative learning providers are developing community offers for children that could be drawn upon for this vulnerable group. The team is also establishing if it is feasible to keep some schools open for health workers if we end up with an enforced blanket closure, signposting information for parents with CYP who have SEND, through the local offer, and finally, providing mental health advice and resources
Bristol social care sector
We are working hard to ensure the continued support and protection of our most vulnerable citizens, including implementing well-rehearsed business continuity plans where required.
Ivan Powell, Independent Chair of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership (KBSP), provided the following update: As you would expect there has been significant activity across all our agencies in trying to prepare for the impact of the ever-changing situation with the covid-19 pandemic. As you would anticipate it is of course the city’s most vulnerable families who will be most impacted by the measures in place to reduce transmission and spread. As the KBSP partners have been working across all levels of the partnership to consider how we may use our collective resources most effectively when there is increased pressure. This is a dynamic situation but I wanted to write to you all to outline our plans for safeguarding children as of today. I will share further updates in coming weeks.
Child in Need and Child Protection
- In respect of safeguarding, the council will prioritise resources for those most at risk, particularly children on Child Protection Plans or where partners have assessed that families on Child in Need Plans need more support.
- Advice to practitioners working with children with an allocated social worker is to establish who holds the best relationship with the young person/family so we can reduce the risk of infection spread by multiple professionals coming in and out of family homes.
- The council will maintain the First Response front door for partners to make referrals of child protection concerns.
Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
- Due to home working arrangements for the Lighthouse Safeguarding Unit the MASH will move to a virtual conversation format.
Public Health Nursing
- Some health visitors and school nurses are likely to be pulled into health service delivery as part of the major incident response leaving a reduced amount of staff to focus on safeguarding work
- They will prioritise supporting children on child protection plans and children with additional vulnerabilities where there are safeguarding concerns, prioritising on a child-by-child basis in coordination with allocated social workers.
Child Protection Conferences
Child Protection Conferences will continue to be held to coordinate the multi-agency plan however, we will utilise different methods to undertake these functions:
- Where appropriate and safe to do so, the social worker, appropriate professional and/or CP Chair will meet either in the family home or an office building for the conference and other professionals will be invited to call in by conference call
- Conferences held as a series of visits and/or calls with the involved professionals and family
- For all families chairs have been asked to maintain robust oversight of safety plans and contingency plans for families over this period of time.
Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)
- The MARAC will continue to be coordinated by the MARAC Coordinators but this will happen by email and the coordinators or IDVAs will trigger individual discussions led by the Lead Professional as needed, with oversight by the Police’s Lighthouse Safeguarding Unit.
KBSP Children’s Meetings
- For the next fortnight the Business Unit will postpone all scheduled non-urgent meetings of the Board to enable partners to establish their contingency plan.
- When meetings are re-established they will be held virtually where possible
- The next meeting of the Children’s Business Planning and Delivery Group will specifically focus on the effectiveness of our safeguarding response in this early phase of the crisis so that we can review what is working well and where we might need to adapt the system to respond to the need
- The KBSP will coordinate phone-in meetings of the statutory partners’ operational leads every few days to maintain oversight of the response and horizon scan where possible for upcoming issues.
Bristol business sector and economy
While we await further guidance about central Government support and how is will be disseminated, there is some support already in place.
- For citizens experiencing hardship, e.g. reduced income to statutory sick pay, they may be eligible for existing support which should be applied for in the normal way: Link here
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme: Link here
- Housing Benefit: Link here
- Universal Credit: Link here
- Discretionary Housing Payments: Link here
- Local Crisis Prevention Fund: Link here
For businesses information on latest reliefs and support announced by the government is available on the council website. Business West is putting in place resources and a digital triage platform to enable them to support our members, customers and also other businesses and in particular SMEs and self-employed people through the next few weeks. The portal can be accessed via this link.
Bristol travel sector
Trains and buses are not reporting issues other than lower passenger numbers. We anticipate changes to frequency and availability of services in due course, and are liaising closely with transport providers.
Bristol Airport is open as usual.