Trafford Council leader Andrew Western says his top priority is making sure essential services continue to be delivered in the borough especially for vulnerable residents as the country battles with coronavirus.
The council is undertaking a range of measures with partners including the NHS to alleviate the impact of the virus and keep residents safe in the borough.
Cllr Western also promised help for residents and businesses who are struggling because of the economic impact of the virus.
This includes repayment holiday for businesses who received money from town centre loan schemes, suspending recovery of council tax arrears, for 12 weeks, and an increase in in local welfare assistance for needs residents.
Cllr Western said the health and wealth being of council staff was a priority and that they are being encouraged to work from home where possible. None of the council’s staff will lose out financially as a result of the outbreak.
Council officers are also reviewing forthcoming events and postponing meetings which are not business critical.
Cllr Western also recognised this was an extremely challenging time for residents and businesses alike and a series of financial measures are being introduced to ease the burden on them. They include:
- All recovery action on debts, including for prior years, has been suspended for three months.
- Staff are being redeployed from recovery work to proactively ensure residents get access to financial support, such as the 100% Council Tax Support award to those out of work from day one.
- The authority will also ensure that its Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS) continually changes to reflect changes in national benefits through the Council’s discretionary schemes.
- Businesses who have received money from Trafford’s town centre loan schemes can now benefit from a six month repayment holiday to help them.
- Trafford companies entitled to the extended 100% rates reliefs will no longer be required to pay their 2020/21 business rates bill and therefore Direct Debits due for the 1 April will be cancelled;
- The council will agree special payment arrangements with any/all other businesses who contact us, initially delaying the 1st instalment due to 1 July 2020, and spreading the remaining instalments over the rest of the year. We will encourage those business to re-contact us again in June if they will have difficulty with the July instalment.
- As with residents, all recovery action against businesses, including for prior years, has been suspended for 12 weeks.
- The Council is also working closely with the government to enable speedy implementation of the measures announced for businesses and residents over the last few weeks
The council is responsible for a wide range of services including adult health and social care which involves helping to look after some of the most vulnerable in society in their own homes.
The Council’s Adult Services team is working closely with our NHS partners and care providers to make sure we continue to safely provide these services. It is also increasing the delivery of local welfare assistance (Trafford Assist) schemes food and gas/electricity awards to cover self-isolation periods.
The voluntary sector makes a massive contribution to the health and wellbeing of thousands in Trafford. Council staff are working with Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK, Trafford Housing Trust and Thrive to support the many local community groups that have sprung up to help those most in need. The intention is to establish a telephone line and five community hubs across the borough where volunteers can be assigned to help for example, with food parcels and vouchers
The Council knows how important libraries are to the residents of all ages in the borough and we are doing our best to keep as many as open as possible. The libraries that will remain open are Altrincham, Sale, Urmston and Coppice, with reduced hours. Trafford Assist and Exchequer Services staff will be available in those libraries that are able to remain open to support those in need of specialist advice and support. Libraries will retain computer access for those needing to access the internet from a library, with safe distancing procedures in place.
We are working with our partners Amey to make sure we continue to deliver our waste collection service. As part of this we are reducing green bin collections and concentrating on making sure the grey, blue and black bins are emptied as normal.
Following government guidance we are cancelling or postponing many of our Council run events. Sale Waterside arts centre has unfortunately had to close for the foreseeable future.
Council Leader Andrew Western said:
“We are facing an unprecedented challenge and our priority is to ensure that we continue to deliver essential services to everyone in Trafford but with a particular focus on those who are most vulnerable.
We have already been working closely with health services and other partners to ensure we respond as effectively as we can to what is a very fast-moving situation where national guidance is, by necessity, changing on a daily basis.
Throughout the delay phase the health and wellbeing of our residents, Council staff and people coming to work in the borough will continue to be one of our priorities.
I recognise the Council has a vital role to play in providing civic leadership and setting out what the latest government guidance means for the borough.
Personally, I’ve been made aware that over the last few days local community groups and residents have started to mobilise in support of this aspiration and I welcome their compassion and commitment. We are working with them to support and co-ordinate this activity over the coming days and weeks.
I know that Trafford’s communities and businesses are incredibly resilient and resourceful but that these are unprecedented times which will test us all and our services in the coming weeks and months. We will continue to provide updates and guidance as we respond to evolving circumstances.”