What we are doing as a council

We are working closely with Public Health England to respond to the national situation and our public health team are co-ordinating the response, information and advice locally.

We have been actively communicating the latest information and advice to the public via our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor and YouTube, as well as to our stakeholders. Leader of the Council, Cllr Toby Savage and Council Chief Executive provide regular email updates for residents on the council’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

You can subscribe to receive the coronavirus (COVID-19) email updates. View all previous messages in our email campaign archive.

We also publish news on our Newsroom website. You can subscribe to Newsroom for the latest news by email.

Watch a video update on what the council is doing to help support residents deal with the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, from Cllr Toby Savage, the Leader of South Gloucestershire Council and Sara Blackmore our Director of Public Health.

For the latest information on council services and opening status of council buildings as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) check our disruption to council services page.

Local Outbreak Management Plan

Our Local Outbreak Management Plan aims to provide a clear plan on how we will work with the new national NHS test and trace service. It demonstrates that we have the necessary capacity and capability to provide a fully coordinated approach to contain and manage local outbreaks of COVID-19 in South Gloucestershire.

Information for key workers

To find out if you are a key worker or also called critical worker, the full list is available on the GOV.UK website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers.

Early years childcare and school places

We are working to maintain access to early years childcare settings and schools for key workers’ children, vulnerable children and also children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs). You can read more on our education and support for children and young people page.

Testing

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of tests available can be found on the GOV.UK website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) personal protective equipment (PPE) is available on the GOV.UK website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) hub.

Financial support

What you need to do if you already are on benefits and your income has stopped or dropped

If you are on benefits already, it is really important that you tell both us and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about any changes to your income so that we can adjust the amount you are entitled to. You can do this by filling in our change in circumstances form. You can tell DWP about a change to your circumstances, visit the GOV.UK website for the Benefits: report a change in your circumstances guidance.

Accessing benefits the first time if your income has stopped or dropped

If you are struggling financially and not on benefits already, you may be eligible to apply for the following:

New to Universal Credit

If you are not claiming benefits at the moment and you are now unable to work or your income has dropped, as long as you fit the criteria, you can apply for Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) manages this so you will need to apply, visit the Universal Credit website or visit GOV.UK for the how to claim Universal Credit: step by step guidance. You do not need to go to the job centre and you can receive advance payments from DWP. On 16 April DWP announced that people applying for Universal Credit will now be able to use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity, helping to speed up their claim. The announcement Universal Credit claimants to verify identity through Government Gateway is available on the GOV.UK website.

Furlough leave

Furlough leave has been temporarily introduced by the government to provide employers with an option to keep employees on the payroll without them working. Businesses can claim a percentage of their employees’ wages from the government. The company can top up this pay if it chooses. It must write to affected employees to let them know they have been furloughed.

The Government has announced an extension of this scheme through to October, full details can be found on GOV.UK: Chancellor extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and confirms furlough next steps.
This scheme is designed to enable employers to keep staff on the payroll if they are unable to operate or have no work because of coronavirus.

Any employer (of any size) is eligible for the scheme. The scheme covers those on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 19 March 2020 and have a UK bank account. This includes full-time and part-time workers, and employees on flexible, zero-hour or agency contracts. For more information visit GOV.UK: Coronavirus Work and financial support.

Support is also available for those customers that are self-employed known as Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The first grant window has closed, but the second round is expected to open in August. Further information can be found on GOV.UK: Chancellor extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and confirms furlough next steps.

Council tax support

We want to support people who are struggling to pay their council tax during the coronavirus pandemic and there are a couple of options available to you:

  • Council Tax Reduction: Council Tax Reduction provides support for people on a low income. You can apply for a Council Tax Reduction on our website.
  • Spreading your instalments out: you can spread instalments over 12 months rather than 10 or if you are unable to make your April payment and would like us to amend your instalments to run from May to March, email us at CorporateContactCentre@southglos.gov.uk using the subject title: Council Tax instalment amendments and include your name, address and billing number in the body of the email.

Welfare Grant Scheme

This scheme can help with basic essentials in the event of a crisis or emergency. Visit our welfare grant scheme page for more information.

Partner Agencies

Our partner agencies can provide further help and support if you are struggling with your finances. Details can be found on our advice agencies and Welfare Advice Partnership page.

If you are in severe financial hardship and need an emergency payment to pay utility bills or buy food you can apply for help through our local Welfare Grant Scheme.

Support with concerns about your home

If you are struggling to pay your rent, you can apply for Universal Credit. If you are already receiving Universal Credit or Housing Benefit you can apply to the council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

If you’re a homeowner, you should call your mortgage provider to explain your change in circumstances they may be able to pause mortgage payments for up to three months.

Advice available for landlords and tenants

The government has produced the following guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors on measures relating to repossessions, property access and health and safety obligations during the Covid-19 outbreak. Visit GOV.UK: Guidance COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities.

Where else can I go for assistance?

There are a number of other routes available for assistance outside of the council. These can be found on our Alternative sources of assistance leaflet.

Staying at home and social distancing rules 

Shielding and self-isolation

Check our health and wellbeing page about staying safe if you are high risk and what to do if you think you have coronavirus.

Guidance for using parks and open spaces

All of our play areas and outdoor gyms are now open.

Stay safe in these areas by washing your hands before and afterwards, keep to social distancing rules and be prepared to come back later if it’s really busy. One adult can accompany a child into a play area.

More information can be found on our Making public places safer page.

Public transport

It is now the law that you must wear a face covering when using public transport in England. Visit GOV.UK: Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers.

Service levels have been reduced. For the latest public transport information for our region visit the Travelwest website.

For the safety of both customers and staff, we urge everyone not to travel unless they absolutely have to.

Get help and support

We have created a directory of the community support groups in South Gloucestershire, where you can find the specific help and support available in your area. Each listing in the directory includes contact details for the group so you can get in touch with them directly. Visit our get help and support page.

If you have concerns about managing at home or you are worried about a friend or family member, visit our people who are vulnerable page for useful information. If you need to talk to someone, you can call our Adult Care team on 01454 868007.

If you are caring for someone you can find more resources on our support for carers page.

Additional advice

If you need further advice or have not found the information you are looking for, you can find the specific contact details for our services and teams in our directory. Check our contact us section.

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