Over 1,500 volunteer to help those at risk stay safe during Covid-19 outbreak
Over 1,500 volunteers have signed up to support residents needing to stay at home to get shopping and prescriptions since the Basingstoke and Deane Community Hub was launched.
During the Coronavirus outbreak, many people have been told to self-isolate at home as they have medical conditions that could put them at risk or are over 70.
Some of these people have relatives or friends who are able to help out by dropping off shopping or prescriptions safely without coming into contact with them.
But for those who don’t have anyone to support them, Basingstoke Voluntary Action (BVA) worked with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and a number of other community organisations to set up the Basingstoke and Deane Community Hub to co-ordinate the volunteers wanting to help.
In just a week since the community hub was launched, 53 local neighbourhood groups have registered and volunteers are being put in touch with groups, with another 229 volunteers on standby to help if needed.
Hampshire County Council is acting as the main co-ordination point for all district community hubs in the county with a hotline The Coronavirus Hampshire Helpline – Hantshelp4vulnerable – that can be contacted on 0333 370 4000. The helpline is available seven days a week, from 9am to 5pm.
Vulnerable residents who need help, and do not have support from family or friends, should call the helpline to register for support. The county council will resolve complex cases and will pass on most other enquiries to the Basingstoke and Deane Community Hub to arrange support, such as deliveries of food.
Any residents who still want to volunteer or local groups who haven’t already registered should visitwww.bvaction.org.uk/coronavirus-volunteering or call 01256 423852.
BVA has published an interactive map on its webpage www.bvaction.org.uk/basingstoke-deane-community-hubs/ showing the location and contact details for all the local groups.
Those people identified at risk of severe illness as a result of underlying medical conditions, that have been written to directly by the NHS, should register for help via gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable as per the instructions in their letter. They have been told that they should not leave home for at least 12 weeks.
There continue to be numerous Coronavirus related scams circulating.
One of the examples that we have seen is phishing email/text messages stating that they are tracking you leaving the property more than once during the day and they are charging/fining you for breaking government guidelines.
The emails/texts ask you to provide personal information, which includes national insurance numbers, card details etc. If you receive a message that you believe is a scam please do not click any links or provide any personal information and report it to Action Fraud.
Support for people and businesses that are struggling financially
The council is offering a wide range of support to individuals and businesses struggling financially, including making changes to how council tax is paid and implementing the rates relief for eligible businesses across the borough.
For an overview of the support being offered for:
- residents in paying their council tax see www.basingstoke.gov.uk/covid-19-council-tax
- and businesses see www.basingstoke.gov.uk/covid-19-business-guidance
Support for residents – changes to council tax
To help during the coronavirus outbreak all residents in the borough have been automatically switched to paying their council tax over 10 months with non-payment months in April and May 2020.
Council tax bills and a leaflet explaining the changes will be sent out confirming the changes. Bills will be sent by post, unless residents have signed up to receive their bill by email.
We have communicated these changes in advance by sending e-newsletters to residents that are signed up to our database and – being particularly proactive compared to other councils – we have published regular posts on social media, with the most popular of these reaching over 75,000 people.
Support for businesses – business rates, rent and service charge reliefs now in place
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, as well as estate agents, lettings agencies, bingo halls and nurseries have been granted business rates relief over the next 12 months.
As the owner of a number of properties across the borough, we are offering a three-month rent and service charge relief to small businesses with annual rents of at or below £50,000.
Support for businesses – business grants available shortly
The council will shortly be making grants of up to £25,000 available to eligible businesses, in line with the measures announced by the Chancellor. Eligible businesses across the borough will be provided with a link to a simple form to clarify their eligibility and confirm payment details. Following completion, we would expect the grants to be paid within two to three working days.
We aim to send out these councillor bulletins regularly as we have more updates.
Interim Head of Democratic Services Manager