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Agenda item

COVID-19 Update

Report of the Chief Executive.

 

Minutes:

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Economic Development, MCI and Communications introduced the report which provided a summary of the key activities to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus in Wiltshire since the last update to Cabinet in December 2020.

 

Cllr Whitehead explained that since the publication of the report the Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown which started on 5 January 2021, instructing people to stay at, continue to protect the NHS and save lives.

 

The Chief Executive commented on the guidelines recently received from Government and the following issues:

 

·       The importance of personal responsibility

·       The work undertaken by headteachers and Council teams to provide remote learning  

·       The closure of school except for the vulnerable and children of key workers

·       The closure of certain non-retail shops, leisure centres etc

·       Care Home visits

·       Grants for businesses and individual

·       Wedding ceremonies, funerals and places of worship

·       House moves

·       Availability of the Wellbeing Hub 

·       Parks and open spaces

·       The delivery of budgets and elections

·       Support for vaccinations

·       Maintaining the opening of Day Centres

 

Officers provided updates for their service areas, as detailed in the report, covering the following areas - Test and Trace, mass testing, mass vaccinations, outbreak management, community spaces and engagement, wellbeing hub, care homes, health and care, education, economy, safe spaces, organisational recovery, financial, legal and safeguarding implications.

 

Cllr Whitehead thanked officers for their continued hard work and resilience during this difficult and testing time.

 

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills provided reassurance that following discussions with the Interim Corporate Director People and Director, Education & Skills, the provision of digital devices and free school meals have been addressed.

 

Cllr Pip Ridout, Chair of the Financial Planning Task Group, reported that Financial Planning Scrutiny Task Group met on 4 January 2021 to consider the Cabinet report.  Cllr Graham Wright, Chair of the Wiltshire Covid-19 Response Task Group explained that the four Select Committees would be meeting during January 2021 to consider the report further. He also thanked officers for the outstanding work undertaken during this difficult time.

 

In response to questions, comments and issues raised by Councillors, officers explained the following:

 

  • The Winter Grant Scheme is live and 90% of the funds have been distributed to 9,133 eligible children via 239 schools. The Scheme runs until 31 March 2021.
  • Free school meal funding of £15 per week over the Christmas period would be sufficient for each eligible child and administered by the school.
  • Increases in Universal Credit and other benefits has not been realised at this stage, although an increase in demand is anticipated along with the subsequent impact on Council finances.
  • Financial underspends continue and are the consequence, in a number of circumstances to the current COVID-19 situation, it is expected that increased demand will be experienced in the next financial year and this would be managed by transfer of funds into earmarked reserves.
  • Residents in Two Care Homes have now received vaccinations and the emergence of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccination is more transportable than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It was understood that some Wiltshire residents who lived on the border with neighbouring Authorities had received their vaccinations from within those neighbouring Authorities.
  • Front line health workers are included in Group 2 to receive the vaccine and would be notified when they will receive the vaccine.
  • There is an awareness that not all elderly people have the necessary laptops or smart phones to receive details about vaccinations dates.  It is understood that doctor surgeries would also be sending letters out to residents.
  • There are no capacity constraints at testing centres in Wiltshire, although the number of people receiving tests was increasing along with the number of positive tests.
  • It is expected that anticipated demand for digital devices would be met by schools and the Council.
  • Recent visits to schools by Ofsted referred to Covid Assurance visits for those schools with pre-existing judgement of ‘inadequate’.
  • Vulnerable residents required to shield would be informed by letter from the Government.
  • The claim rate in Wiltshire for the self-employed grant.
  • Applicants for the Self Isolation Payment Scheme are required to provide evidence of their need for the payment. A team is in place to administer the payment scheme.
  •  The grant process for the Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant are administered in blocks of time, with eligible businesses being able to apply for the grants up to the end of January 2021.
  • The availability of the Wellbeing Hub to offer support and advice to voluntary organisations, and the need to keep volunteers safe during the COVID-19 situation.
  • Consideration would be given to the support given to those residents who rely on the use of car parks in relation to car parking charges.

 

 

Resolved:

1.    Continue to encourage all residents to download the NHS Test and Trace app on their phone.

2.    Encourage all residents to answer a call received from 0300 456 0100 as it may be the local contact tracing team within the Council

3.    Continue to encourage all residents to follow national guidance

4.    To note the financial forecast as detailed within the report

5.    To note changes in national policy and the work underway within the Recovery Coordinating Group themes.

 

Reason for Decision:

Wiltshire Council continues to work closely with partners to deliver in a rapidly

changing environment.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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