Council News 192
This week’s news from around the Council.
- COVID-19 update
The number of cases of COVID-19 continues to rise and this week it was announced that Staffordshire is moving up to the High Alert level of the Government’s three-tier system on Saturday 31 October 2020. Staffordshire joins Dudley and Telford and Wrekin in moving to the higher alert level from Saturday.
All borough and districts are now seeing their numbers increase, with South Staffordshire running at above the national level. The latest data showing the district’s current seven-day infection rate now stands at 398.4 per 100,000 people at 26 October 2020.
What High Tier means…
The main difference between Medium and High is the additional laws on households mixing indoors. It means that it will be illegal for people to meet socially indoors with another household unless part of a ‘support bubble’. This applies to any indoor setting both in homes and public settings such as leisure or hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants. Schools and places of worship remain open, and weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the numbers attending. Care homes are being asked to restrict visiting to essential visits only and will be encouraged to continue to provide virtual contact between residents and their family and friends.
The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors and you can continue to meet in parks and private gardens provided you do not gather in groups of more than six people. Where possible, you are asked to limit your travel to essential journeys only. You can still travel to places in Tier 1 but you must continue to follow Tier 2 rules.
The change in alert level is reviewed by government after 14 days.
The Council is working hard to ensure that residents and businesses are aware of the alert level change and the support that is available to them. Moving up another level to the Very High Alert Tier 3 would see even tougher restrictions including some businesses being forced to close, so it is important that everyone follows the new rules to stop the spread of coronavirus. Please continue to wear face coverings where required, wash your hands regularly, practise safe social distancing, get tested if you have symptoms and self-isolate when needed.
- Help for businesses
In High Tier, businesses can continue to operate and tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work. Inevitably, the move to a Tier 2 status will have an impact on our economy and we anticipate that online application forms for eligible businesses to apply for grant funding will be available on the Council website from Thursday 5 November 2020. The Council will administer any applications for grant funding in accordance with the latest Central Government schemes for supporting businesses impacted by local restrictions.
Details of support available, and eligibility can be accessed via the link below. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-local-restrictions-support-grant.
For further information please visit the local restriction support grant section on the Council website. This information is in the process of being updated.
- Business webinars coming up
In partnership with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, South Staffordshire Council is holding two free business webinars in November.
- The new Job Support Scheme – what you need to know.
Tuesday 3 November 2020, 2pm to 3pm.
Please join us and Joe Gill for a presentation covering the newly launched Jobs Support Scheme available for all SMEs from November. This presentation will also cover what additional support is out there if we go into Tier 3 lockdown restrictions. A question and answer section will be held at the end of the presentation.
- Bids and Tenders: The impacts of COVID-19.
Tuesday 17 November 2020, 2pm to 3pm.
This webinar will focus on what businesses need to do to increase their chances of winning bids and tenders in a COVID and post-COVID business environment, concluding with some top tips to ensure you maximise your chances of winning new business.
- Free online employment support session
South Staffs Work Club and the Council’s Welfare Support team will be sharing their expert knowledge at a free online employment support session to help individuals discover what help is available to get them back into work. The online event takes place from 11am to 12.30pm on Friday 13 November 2020 – further information about this online event is available here.
- NHS test and trace support payments
Applications for NHS Test and Trace support payments are open. People who have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self- isolate who on low incomes and unable to work from home can claim a support payment of £500 to compensate for their loss of earnings if they meet certain criteria. Local authorities are administering the payments for self-isolation and residents in South Staffordshire are now able to submit an application for this support and the application form is now live.
- Scam alert – warning over fake COVID-19 Marshals
This week, there have been reports that scammers are pretending to be fake COVID-19 Marshals and medical professionals so they can gain access to people’s homes. Please be on your guard and look out for vulnerable friends and relatives who could fall prey to opportunist scammers. COVID-19 Marshals do not have the power to enforce social distancing, issues fines and do not have the right to enter homes.
A variety of scams are happening both online and over the telephone. Fraudsters are always trying to find new ways to dupe unsuspecting residents out of their money and you can find out more on Age UK’s website at https://www.ageuk.org.uk/barnet/our-services/latest-scams/.
- HMRC will never contact you by telephone or email, all their communication is by post.
- COVID-19 Test and Trace callers will not need your bank details as all coronavirus tests are free.
- If you are asked to follow a link to provide some details don’t click on the link – your email or mobile/telephone provider will never email you for your financial details.
- If you receive an email from someone you don’t know and are being asked to follow a link, don’ click on the link – delete the email.
- If you think you have been a victim of a scam or a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report it online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news.
- Useful COVID-19 information
If you are unsure what the alert level is for your address, you can find out the local alert level in your local area with the following Postcode Checker:
- Information about face coverings – When to wear one, exemption cards, enforcement measures for failing to comply with the law, and how to make your own.
- Information about meeting others safely – Social distancing, the rule of six, and COVID-Secure guidelines.
- Information about what you can and can’t do – Frequently asked questions about social contact, visiting public places and taking part in activities.
- Information about NHS test and trace – The NHS test and trace service is a vital tool and helps control the spread of coronavirus. To get a test, you will need to apply online or call 119 and the test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be asked where you’ve been recently and who you have been in close contact with. This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you. All information you provide is confidential and no one who is contacted will be told your identity. Anyone you’ve been in close contact with will be told to stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days. This is because it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear.
- Information about the NHS COVID-19 app – This app is an integral part of the test and trace programme and is the fastest way of knowing when you are at risk from coronavirus. It is available to download on smartphones from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
- Stay safe this Halloween and Bonfire Night
Halloween and Bonfire Night are nearly here but please make sure you celebrate them safely this year to help avoid the spread of coronavirus. Remember the rule of six outdoors and only meet in groups of no more than six people. Choose games and activities that don’t used shared items and that allow people to stay two metres apart. Whether you’re carving pumpkins, celebrating with a spooky movie night or enjoying fireworks or sparklers in the garden, take care and have fun.
- Leisure update
- Cheslyn Hay Leisure Centre – The swimming pool will be reopening soon to adult members-only on Thursday 5 November 2020. Booking in advance is essential and customers need to arrive swim-ready. A revised swimming timetable will be available on the website next week.
- Baggeridge Country Park – During half-term, the play area was staffed and this will continue during weekends in order to control access allowing everyone to play safely. When visiting the play area, please remember to scan the NHS Track and Trace QR Code poster on arrival, sanitise your hands on entry and exit, and maintain a safe distance from others. Entry on the hour. Play time is restricted to a maximum of 50 minutes to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy the facility.
- Good Life Roadshows update
Earlier this year, the South Staffordshire Good Life Wellbeing Association commissioned a Lifestyle Roadshow Coordinator to deliver 12 roadshows in the district. The purpose of the roadshows was to introduce service providers to residents such as the Falls Prevention Service, Dementia Support organisations, positive mental wellbeing, Housing Associations, Local Police and Fire Teams, and local exercise groups among other things.
Six roadshows were held before the coronavirus pandemic began but due to COVID-19, the delivery of the rest of the Good Life roadshows has had to change. The Lifestyle Roadshow Coordinator has produced a leaflet of local services to offer help and advice to residents and you can view the leaflet on the Council’s website here. For further information, please contact [email protected].
- Prostate cancer awareness
There is currently a drive in the West Midlands to reverse a decline in the numbers going forward for cancer screening which has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. In order to increase the numbers of men coming forward for screening, Prostate Cancer UK is promoting an online risk checker. This asks three simple questions and provides an action to follow up. It’s important to contact your GP Surgery if you have any concerns about prostate cancer or any other health problems. The impact of COVID-19 means that thousands may be diagnosed too late so check your risk now.
- Protect against flu
Every year, the annual NHS flu vaccination is available to help protect adults and children at risk from flu and its complications. With COVID-19 still in circulation, it’s important that as many people as possible get vaccinated for flu this autumn to protect the most vulnerable and reduce the number of people needing flu treatment from the NHS. This year, the flu vaccination programme has been expanded and more people are eligible for free flu jabs. The flu can be a serious disease and by getting the vaccine, you will be protecting yourself as well as your loved ones. Visit the NHS website to find out more about the flu vaccine and visit your GP practice website or speak to your pharmacy about booking a flu vaccination. High street chemists and most of the leading supermarkets also offer the vaccination to any adult at varying costs.
- Doing our bit – community fund now open
A new grant fund to help community groups who are doing their bit to support vulnerable children or older people in our communities opened this week. Groups and organisations can apply online for grants of up to £2,500. Find out more here.
- Staffordshire good neighbour scheme
Have you thought about becoming involved in a good neighbour scheme? Support Staffordshire is keen to support newer groups to continue long-term so that communities can continue to benefit from the good community links that have been established due to the coronavirus pandemic. Find out more about the Good Neighbour Scheme here or visit the Support Staffordshire website.
- Free online behaviour and wellbeing workshops
November Behaviour and Wellbeing Programmes for South Staffordshire – run by the Family Support Service by SCTSP (Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Support Project) in Partnership with Staffordshire County Council.
- Council job vacancies
- COVID-19 Support Officers – application information.
- Street Scene Operative – Level 2 – application information. Closing date 12 November 2020.
- Next week’s Council Committee/Panel meetings
- Audit and Risk Committee – Tuesday 3 November 2020 – 4pm – virtual meeting via Teams.
Members of the public can virtually attend these meetings via Microsoft Teams – links can be found in the news section on the Council’s website at www.sstaffs.gov.uk.
- Super draw this Saturday
Another £2,000 winner last week! Could you be a winner this weekend? Now more than ever, good causes in South Staffordshire need your support. One way you can help is by buying a lottery ticket in our weekly Community Lottery and as well as supporting a good cause you might even win a cash prize ranging from £25 up to a jackpot of £25,000. To buy a lottery ticket, simply register on the website www.southstaffslottery.co.uk or telephone 01902 213777. It’s nearly time for the next super draw, which takes place on 31 October 2020, so buy a lottery ticket now for a chance to win a family forest staycation voucher worth £500, redeemable with Forest Holidays.
Everyone is encouraged to submit news items, please email: [email protected]