A round up of news-
Update provided to NCC Staff & County Cllrs from the NCC CEO.
Welcome to this weeks’ Chief Executive’s briefing for all staff which will give you an update on our progress this week following the Easter weekend. May I thank every member of staff who worked over the Easter holidays to provide support and services to our residents across Northumberland. It is greatly appreciated.
Many will know that at yesterday’s daily Government briefing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that lockdown restrictions in the UK will continue for at least another three weeks, as we continue to tackle the Coronavirus outbreak.
WHERE TO FIND FURTHER INFORMATION ON CORONAVIRUS
If you are symptomatic with Coronavirus, you must follow the Public Health England Stay at Home guidance as outlined here.
NATIONAL UPDATE AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
First and foremost, I must ask you all to adhere to the continuing advice from the Government that is that we stay at home as much as we can, in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus. It is really important that you do all you can to maintain social distancing at home and when you are in the workplace delivering critical services at this time.
STAFF IN THE WORKPLACE AND USING PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
It is important that when staff are within the workplace that they follow the most recent guidance in relation to the use of PPE. This has recently been updated and can be found here.
You may have seen that the Council has appealed for manufacturers and businesses to assist us in sourcing PPE across the county. If you know of anyone who may be able to help please contact email@example.com
It is also important that staff when in the workplace adhere to social distancing wherever possible and for the national advice on social distancing please see here.
We have been made aware that as part of the national DHSC testing programme a drive through testing centre for health and care staff is now operational in the Ikea car park in Gateshead.
We have been made aware that testing has been broadened to offer a wider range of staff the opportunity to now be tested however testing is by invitation only and it is important that our staff or members of the public do not turn up at the testing centre.
We are now ensuring that those staff that need to be prioritised for testing are invited at the earliest opportunity and if you are symptomatic, in household isolation and feel that you need to be tested so that you may return to work, please do not hesitate to contact HR.
GENERAL HYGIENE AND THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
It is vitally important that staff utilise the handwashing facilities, hand sanitiser and also the cleaning equipment that we have which has been made available at our sites.
The facilities teams are doing a great job, cleaning for us and keeping our work environments in good order but could everyone who is attending work, please look after their own workspace as much as they can not only to prevent the spread of Coronavirus but also to assist our hardworking cleaning staff who are working tirelessly to support us.
STAFF WHO ARE VOLUNTEERING OR UNDERTAKING DIFFERENT ROLES
As we head into week four of a very different environment to be working in I am really very grateful for those staff who have volunteered or who are currently undertaking different duties and roles to facilitate our response to this emergency situation. Your engagement, willingness and support is hugely helpful at this time, you are truly making a difference to our residents.
RECOGNITION AND REWARD
We are currently considering how we recognise and reward those staff who are providing frontline services to our residents at this time. I hope to be able to bring you further information on this very shortly but the efforts of those staff who are coming into work and providing our critical services and volunteering to undertake wider roles has not been unnoticed and we as an Executive Team and Administration are most grateful of this, particularly given the circumstances that we find ourselves working within.
NORTHUMBERLAND NEWS – SPECIAL COVID-19 EDITION
A Covid-19 special edition of Northumberland News is now being delivered to residents across the county. This contains essential information and advice for all our residents. Distribution is being done by Council staff, redeployed from their day jobs to undertake these deliveries. Having staff on the ground is incredibly important and will help act as our eyes and ears across our communities, to help identify if there are any issues, and report those back so we can provide support where it’s needed. Safety for both our staff and the public is paramount, and all our staff have been provided with protective PPE gloves, following Government guidance, and social distancing is also being applied throughout our distribution. This is a vital part of ensuring our residents receive essential information, and I thank all those staff involved for keeping #TeamNorthumberland at the forefront of supporting our communities.
RESIDENTS AND STAFF WHO ARE SHIELDING
We now have special arrangements in place to protect the most vulnerable in society and this will involve “shielding” those with specific medical conditions, such as those who have had organ transplants, which will be up to 1.4 million people across the UK.
The Council has a lead role in providing support to those residents “shielding”. Residents information on how to access the national support dependent upon individual needs is available here.
IF YOU KNOW OF SOMEONE WHO IS “SHIELDING” AND THEY HAVE RECEIVED A LETTER SAYING THEY SHOULD BE AT HOME, PLEASE ENCOURAGE THEM TO SIGN UP FOR THE SUPPORT THAT THEY NEED WITH FOOD, SHOPPING DELIVERIES AND ADDITIONAL CARE. THIS WILL ENSURE THAT THEY RECEIVE REGULAR NATIONAL FOOD DROPS TO THEIR DOORSTOP OF A BASIC FOOD PARCEL. THEY CAN REGISTER AT: GOV.UK/CORONAVIRUS-EXTREMELY-VULNERABLE
STAFF WHO ARE SHIELDING
We recognise that we also have members of staff who are “shielding” and if you are a member of staff and you have received a letter advising you to shield, please ensure that you speak to your line manager or HR on 01670 626150 and arrangements will be made for you to be supported at home. The NHS/Government should have written to all individuals who fall into this category by now and if you have not received a letter from the NHS, and you feel that you should have received one as you are in the “shielding” category, please contact HR for further advice.
NORTHUMBERLAND COMMUNITIES TOGETHER
Our Northumberland Communities Together initiative continues to have staff volunteering from across the organisation to help staff the telephone helplines in our “hub”, deliver food parcels across the county and also make valuable outbound calls to many of our vulnerable residents. This week we have taken delivery of a fantastic donation of nappies from Proctor and Gamble as well as delivering many chocolate eggs at Easter to vulnerable families.
If you know of any organisation who can donate to support families at this time, please do not hesitate to contact the Northumberland Communities Together via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on our Northumberland Business Hub can be found here.
COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT
The County Council has launched a new initiative to help thousands of vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Over 15,000 families in Northumberland who may be struggling to pay council tax during the coronavirus epidemic could be entitled to (up to) £150 off their bills over the 2020 to 2021 financial year – meaning that 12,262 claimants will now pay no council tax for the year.
A further 3,638 will have their bills cut by £150 and for further information please see here.
As the County Council’s flexi scheme period ends this week, we have taken the decision to suspend the Council’s flexi time scheme for those staff working at home at this time. Individuals will now receive an automatic set daily credit of hours on a pro-rata’d basis to ensure that extreme deficits are accrued.
Due to the nature of some roles and individuals who are volunteering at this time, some staff groups may continue to operate the flexi scheme dependent upon demand and the flexi rules for these teams will be considered on an individual basis.
Flexi balances will remain as they are at the end of this flexi period unless individuals choose to take flexi leave and in the first instance individuals should discuss their flexi arrangements with their line manager who can contact HR if clarity is required.
Please be assured that as a Council, we are continuing to be well prepared to respond to this situation, but we are grateful for the engagement and support of all of our staff to support our efforts across the county at this time.
Update provided to County Cllrs from the CEO of Karbon Homes.
Following the Government announcement that the current lockdown measures will remain in place for a further three weeks, I would like to update you on our continuing response to coronavirus.
We will continue to undertake emergency repairs, while non-essential repairs will only be scheduled once the lockdown has been lifted. We are phoning residents in our retirement living and Extra Care schemes at least once every day to check how they are doing, and we are contacting older and more vulnerable customers who live in individual homes to find out if they need any further support.
Our offices remain closed and our colleagues who can, are working from home. Any colleagues who are out and about undertaking essential services are maintaining the Government’s social distancing guidelines. The health and safety of our customers and colleagues remains our top priority.
Rent, money matters and Universal Credit
We know that a small number of our customers are having difficulty paying the rent either because they have lost their jobs, been furloughed or have a reduced income, as a result of coronavirus. We are providing specialist advice and support to those customers, through our Money Matters team, helping them claim the benefits they are entitled to and prioritise essential household bills. If you do hear of customers in this situation, please encourage them to contact us so that we can work with them to find a solution.
We have seen a significant increase in the number of customers who are claiming Universal Credit since the lockdown begun, taking the total to more than 4,700 – 19% of our overall tenancies. Just over 1,000 of our customers claiming Universal Credit live in Northumberland.
We have seen an increase of £100,000 in overall rent arrears in recent weeks, but we remain committed to ensuring no customer will be evicted due to the coronavirus.
Support for community groups
We are providing funding to community groups that are providing vital support to local communities during the coronavirus crisis. In Northumberland, we have already supported a number of groups including:
- £2,900 to Briardale House to support vulnerable people in Blyth
- £2,800 to Hadston House Youth and Community Projects, to deliver meals, medication and essential supplies to local households
- £2,500 to Dry Water North East to provide food, medication and other supplies, and telephone support to vulnerable people in Northumberland
- £1,000 to Bacmans Community, to match volunteers with people who need support in East Northumberland
- £1,000 to Friends of Eastwood Park to support its food bank and the delivery of food aid parcels
- £1,000 to Lynemouth Day Centre, to provide hot meals and welfare checks for its service users
We are keen to support many more groups that are helping their local communities. If you know of any community groups looking for funding to boost their efforts during this time, please signpost them to www.karbonhomes.co.uk/support where they can apply for our support.
We have had reports of anti-social behaviour related to the coronavirus and are tackling all incidents robustly. We have advised customers that they should not be receiving external visitors to their homes unless it is for essential activities and we will take action if there is evidence that customers are inviting multiple visitors to their home without good reason. We have also reminded customers to dispose of their waste responsibly in the bins provided by Northumberland County Council.
Contact number for Karbon related queries
If you receive enquiries from any Karbon customers looking for further support, for example, because they are socially isolated, they are struggling with their rent payments or they want to report an issue, please ask them to call our main telephone number – 0808 164 0111 – where we will put them in touch with the most appropriate team.
Please visit www.karbonhomes.co.uk/coronavirus for the latest information on all aspects of our response and how we are continuing to provide services to our customers.
Misc local information-
Change to Council services – CLICK HERE
We are dealing with a very large number of enquiries every day and continue to work closely with PTC , Prudhoe / Covid 19 support team and many other organisations.
We maintain regular contact with NCC officers.
We are as always available to support our residents everyday of the year.
But we do not respond to comments or queries on social media.
Our secondary facebook page PrudhoeNland is there to support Prudhoe community groups & businesses who are welcome to use it at anytime.
We are also posting Govt guidance there on a regular basis.
Check out our dedicated COVID 19 Webpage – CLICK HERE
Importantly, please ensure you take care of yourself, and those around you, and stay safe and continue to follow the Government’s guidance.
These are unprecedented times, and we really do need to work together to get through this.