Home > News > Notes from the District Councillor – 23rd April 2020

Latest Update from the South Norfolk District Council

Please find below the latest briefing on the work of our two councils during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are part-way through another busy week. Our Help Hub has taken and made just under 10,000 Covid-19 related calls in total and staff from all across the Councils have been working together to contact around 4,000 people on the NHS shielded list.

We have received some fantastic feedback from our residents, including this heart-warming note of thanks from a local mother we helped last week.

She said:

“I was absolutely blown away by the generosity of the Help Hub. Never did I imagine I would be in a situation, where I couldn’t give my 20-month-old daughter a basic necessity – food! The Help Hub was able to supply us with a care package and I was expecting some bread, milk the basics.

“I was speechless when I saw the amount of groceries which turned up at my door, literally hours later. I could have hugged and kissed the lady who delivered the food. I literally sat down after bringing the food in with my little girl and cried with the relief that we wouldn’t go hungry. I will be eternally grateful for this amazing help, and just wanted to express how grateful I am.”

Covid-19 volunteer expenses

We have now secured funding to help cover expenses incurred by volunteers who are assisting the council during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This funding will allow volunteers to recoup costs for :

• Petrol

• Car Park tickets

• Any other forms of travel

There is no minimum or maximum amount that can be claimed, mileage will be paid at 45p per mile.

Expenses are to be submitted by email to Julie Ringer (jringer@snorfolk.gov.uk), Community Officer by close of business (5pm) on a Thursday, they will be processed on Friday and monies should be in the volunteer’s bank account on the Friday afternoon. We do not need receipts; however, we would ask that dates and travel locations are sent across in the email.

This fund cannot reimburse for the purchase of food; any volunteer who is asked to purchase food for those who do not have funds to pay for it, should be redirecting residents to the Help Hub on 01508 533933 for further assistance.

Covid-19 Volunteer groups

The Covid-19 Community Response Fund has been created by Norfolk Community Foundation to support vital community projects as they respond to exceptional challenges over the coming months. Grants of up to £1,000 are available to support urgent community action to help vulnerable people affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. All grants will be paid by BACS payment so please ensure the correct bank details are given to help process grants without delay.

To apply for funding please visit https://www.norfolkfoundation.com/ funding-support/grants/groups/

Business Grant Awards

So far we have collectively supported 3,353 business to access the two government grants that help to cover operational costs. Over the next few days we will be contacting those who have not yet applied.

The two grant schemes for each district area are

• The Small Business Grant Fund, and

• The Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant Fund

For a business to be eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund of £10k for a property, that property must be rated and the business must be in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief. If someone operates a business from their home address and that part of their property has not been rated they will not be able to access this grant.

Eligibility for the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant (of £10k or £25k dependant on rateable value) is based on how the particular premises is used. The qualifying uses set out by the Government in most cases rely on the specific premises being mainly geared towards serving the needs of visiting members of the public.

Eligibility for the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant is not reliant solely on the sector in which the business operates, it is how that particular property is used. For this reason we do not make reference to SIC codes in the decision-making process (SIC stands for Standard Industrial Classification Codes, which are used as a way of identifying the primary business a company is involved in. These are used by Companies House).

The Business Rates team have been proactively identifying business premises that will qualify for the grants. We have staff working full time, every day to diligently identify further businesses that may qualify and dealing with enquiries from businesses which are putting themselves forward as potentially eligible.

They are also updating our records where businesses are now telling us we need to do so in order to accurately process payments to the appropriate parties.

We have a robust plan in place to follow up, in the coming days, the rest of those businesses who may be eligible. We are concerned that these grants should be made available to all eligible
businesses, so that we reduce the risk of business failures as a result of current events.

There has been a large amount of positive feedback from the businesses receiving the grants.

One wrote: ‘I would just like to say a massive thank you for processing this grant so very quickly. Fantastic service, clear informative advice and systems.’

Another emailed: ‘ We wanted to say a huge thank you for this much-needed and very welcome grant and for your support and help. We really appreciate all you are doing to support us while the country tries to overcome the virus and its impact on all our lives.’

Here is a breakdown of how the grants have been distributed by district:

BDC

• 1594 payments processed out of 2196* eligible

• 73% of eligible businesses • 74% of anticipated funding awarded

• £18,025,000 processed for payment

(*An additional 144 businesses have been identified as eligible for grants which has led to a slight decrease in the percentages of those awarded to date)

SNC

• 1759 payments processed out of 2721 eligible

• 65% of eligible businesses • 67% of anticipated funding awarded

£20,200,000 processed for payment

Business survey

We have also launched an online business survey to continue to support our business community through these difficult times. The results will give all businesses the opportunity to share vital
information that will add to the preparations for economic recovery and ensure that as much as possible can be done to help them. We want as much information as businesses are willing to share as this will also be linked into the wider response to central government.

Please encourage local businesses to complete this survey https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CouncilSurvey

Car parks

We have received a few queries around car parks. The Government Guidance is that car parks can remain open or rather they are not on the list of business activities that have to close, https:// www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-andpremises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-closeguidance, this is mainly because key workers may still require to use the car parks. There is also a requirement to provide free car parking for NHS and essential workers and in a number of cases car park charges are being waived.

However, a lot of authorities that own or operate car parks have chosen to close them where they can to encourage people not to make any non-essential travel in line with Government guidance, this is particularly the case where the car parks are located close to a tourist attractions etc. as there have been lots of instances of the public ignoring the social distancing requirements and travelling to such locations for exercise.

Temporary accommodation at the Officers’ Mess in Coltishall

Central government requested that people who are either homeless or sleeping rough should be found temporary accommodation for the duration of the COVID 19 lockdown.

At the moment, a number of Broadland and South Norfolk residents are being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation. This accommodation is not designed to support people for long periods of time and is not an ideal place to live, especially for families, while having to keep to social distancing guidance.

We have therefore rented 20 rooms in the Officers’ Mess at the old RAF Coltishall site. The building is owned and run by a charity that will provide support for the new residents, including delivery of food and other supplies, and each person will also have an allocated housing officer from the Council to provide additional support if needed.

To reduce some potential concerns that the community may have, people moving to the Officers’ Mess will be asked to stay within the site for 7 days and the Councils will be providing support to make this as easy as possible for them.

The Home Office is also using another wing of the building, as temporary accommodation for up to 80 asylum seekers, as part of the government’s commitment that those seeking asylum should stay in their accommodation, which has increased the amount that is needed.

This is intended to be only for the duration of the lockdown period and a time for the system to clear down afterwards. The facility will have a 24 hour staff presence, including security, which will be responsible for signing residents in and out of the facility.

We have spoken to the Home Office and asked if they can write to our local residents, members and MP about their use of the site.

Clap for Carers

We included footage and photos of both Chairmen, Broadland District Council’s Leader and the councils’ MD clapping for carers last week.

It would be fantastic to be able to make a short video montage of as many members as possible taking part in the weekly show of appreciation for our key workers. Please email your short clips from this Thursday night and in the following weeks to Jack Edwards in the Marketing and Communications team at jack.edwards@broadland.gov.uk    

Best wishes,
Catherine

Catherine Morris-Gretton,
Strategic Marketing and Communications Manager
South Norfolk and Broadland District Councils