COVID Update from Cornwall Council

COVID update from Cornwall Council. There is a lot in this post!

It starts with Business Support, and Enforcement where Businesses are not complying with the rules. Next is information on the next round of Business Grants, for those forced to close in this 2nd Lockdown and news for those that have fallen through the grants gaps, that will be published next week.

This post then looks at mental health and what we should be doing to stay well in this difficult time. It ends with information to organisations that are providing food assistance to communities and how they could apply for grants to enable them to help more local people.

Enforcement Where Businesses are not COVID Compliant BUT Support is Available

Cornwall Council has set up a dedicated Covid Enforcement Team who are on hand to deal with covid-related concerns and complaints seven days a week, where those complaints concern business practice. Gatherings and people breaching rules is a Police matter to handle.

The team is working with businesses to ensure they are complying with the current restrictions and investigate concerns from members of the public.

The multi-disciplinary team, who work closely with Devon and Cornwall Police, Public Health colleagues and other partner agencies, includes environmental health officers, trading standards officers and licensing officers.

This core group is supported by colleagues from various departments who are also helping businesses adjust to the new restrictions.

The team’s focus is to work with and provide support to businesses. Enforcement action will only be used as a last resort.

Since the start of the pandemic, Cornwall Council has received more than 4,800 covid-related enquiries.

Many of these have been from businesses asking for clarification about the restrictions and seeking advice.

Business owners and staff can request support and information via the Business Regulatory Support Hub. The hub also provides weekly webinars to keep businesses updated on the latest guidance. To date these have been attended by more than 3,000 people across Cornwall.

Cornwall Council has a dedicated email address for all queries related to Covid19 – covid19@cornwall.gov.uk.

For general covid19 enquires you can call us on 0300 1231 118 our lines are open 0830 to 1800 Monday to Friday.

Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme

This afternoon the Council is launching the application process for the Government’s new Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme to support businesses registered for business rates that have been forced to close as a result of the second coronavirus lockdown.  

Details and the application form have been published on the Council’s website https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/businesssupportgrant

As we know, businesses are under tremendous strain as it is, so it’s important that the application system is as straightforward as possible, and businesses know from the outset if they qualify or not.

Cornwall Council will be directly contacting around 20,500 businesses on our business rates database that could be eligible and encouraging them to apply.

Eligible businesses include those that have been told they must shut by law under the national lockdown such as non-essential retail shops, restaurants, holiday accommodation, cafes and bars as well as hairdressers and beauty salons. Also businesses that have been “unable to provide their usual in-person customer services from their premises” (the words in the Government guidance). So for example retail business that are still offering click and collect or a restaurant or café that has moved to take-away or offers only window/door front sales during lockdown should also be eligible.

Businesses who have not been forced by law to close will not be eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme.

Depending on whether a business meets the eligibility criteria set by the Government and their rateable value, grants range from £1,334 to £3,000 for the 28-day lockdown period.

We have been allocated £24 million from the government to support eligible businesses who have been told they must close, or who are only allowed to offer take-away, delivery or click and collect services, because of the latest coronavirus lockdown.

There is a promise from the government that if this money is not enough to pay all eligible businesses, then there is a top up available.

As with the previous government business support scheme, those businesses eligible to receive the Local Restrictions Support Grant are determined in accordance with the criteria set by the government, not Cornwall Council.  These include holiday lets registered for business rates that have been forced to close due to lockdown.

There will be other businesses who have had to close but will not be eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant.  If they are not registered for business rates, they don’t meet the government’s criteria.  There are also businesses in the supply chain, such as some of our local food and drink producers, that will be severely affected as, although they are able to stay open, they are not able to supply to restaurants which have been forced to close during lockdown.

To offer some support to those businesses not eligible under the Local Restrictions Support Grant, the Government has allocated £11.4 million to Cornwall Council for Additional Restriction Grants. (Details will be added next week as soon as I get them)

Businesses can also find out more about other support available by contacting the Growth Hub.  Their service is free, independent and impartial and their friendly team of locally based experts work directly with businesses to help identify and access the support they need no matter what their circumstances.  Contact Growth Hub on 01209 708 660 from 9am until 5pm, Monday to Friday, or visit the website for a webchat with the team or to request a call back. www.ciosgrowthhub.com

People urged to access Cornwall’s support services amid rise in anxiety and depression

There is help and support available for anyone experiencing mental health difficulties during the second lockdown.

This is the message from Cornwall Council’s Public Health team and NHS partners as once again people are asked to stay in their homes to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Statistics suggest that the number of people experiencing anxiety and/or depression in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has roughly doubled since the pandemic began.

A survey by independent group Healthwatch Cornwall over six weeks in June and July revealed that of the 1,731 participants, 13% had ‘probable’ depression/anxiety and 44% had ‘possible’ depression/anxiety.

In Cornwall Council’s residents’ survey in 2017 the figures were 5% and 22% respectively – roughly half. [See ‘Note to editors’ below.] 

Concerns focused on finances, the health of family members, fears around catching the virus, isolation and loneliness, and uncertainty about the future.

In response, Cornwall Council and its partners across the health and social care system have pulled together a range of materials including guides, web links, phone apps, z-cards for wallets and crucial information and contact details for anyone who finds themself in crisis.

Many can be found here www.cornwall.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/mental-health/coronavirus-and-mental-wellbeing/ and there is a list of other links below.

Support is being offered virtually as well as face-to-face, with targeted work going on in high risk groups and communities. Initiatives include social prescribing at GP practices, a mobile crisis lorry run by charity Valued Lives, and expansion of debt management and mental health advice and support via CAB and Pentreath.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are:

  1. Connect – Lockdown or self-isolation doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with friends and loved-ones through social media, email, facetime/video calling or a good old-fashioned phone call.
  1. Be active – Staying active is vital for your physical and mental health, and lockdown doesn’t mean this is off limits. Check out www.healthycornwall.org.uk for ideas.
  1. Keep learning – Trying a new hobby or learning something new is a great way to keep the mind active so why not learn a musical instrument, try your hand at photography or become a crossword expert?
  1. Give – Supporting vulnerable people and/or volunteering can help you make new friends as well as make a huge difference in your community. For more information visit www.volunteercornwall.org.uk
  2. Take notice – Try to be mindful of your environment and make the time to get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can, while still sticking to the rules.

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Cornwall Council is committed to helping people get safely through this second lockdown and beyond.

“Being worried during these uncertain times is completely understandable and the new measures now in place mean it is more likely people will experience feelings such as anxiety, loneliness and being overwhelmed.

“But we want everyone to know that help and support is there so please take the time to check out what’s available. This could help you improve your own mental wellbeing as well as the mental health of other people in your community. Remember, we’re all in this together.”

Emergency Food Assistance Fund

Our new Emergency Food Assistance Fund has started today to give financial help to community food groups supporting people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19 https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/foodgrant.

Existing and new community food organisations across Cornwall can now apply for funding from our Emergency Food Assistance Fund to pay for food, equipment, storage, transport costs or any other items which can build their capacity, infrastructure and resilience so they are in a stronger position to help their communities access emergency food and essential supplies.

This fund is available for existing and new community food organisations who can demonstrate that they are able to support individuals and families to access nutritious food. It is not intended to make cash payments to individuals.

Key points of the scheme are:

·         Individual grants for organisations of up to £25,000.

·         An organisation can apply for a maximum of two grants to encourage them to think longer term about the needs an operation as opposed to quick-fix budget issues which can reoccur.

·         Grants can be spent on Revenue and Capital to enable support for infrastructure costs which many of the groups have told us they need help with.

·         Recipients to have spent their grant by 31 March 2022 to allow sufficient time for the grant to have a more sustainable impact.

·         In keeping with the recent emergency community chest grants, we will allow non-constituted groups to apply as we recognise that a number of these have been set up at very short notice as part of the Covid response work and are likely to need financial support. Where a group is not constituted, we will ask them to let us know which organisation or town or parish council can hold the funds on their behalf so we are not paying money into an individual’s personal account.

We are collaborating with the newly formed Cornwall Food Access Alliance and the voluntary sector to ensure the grants scheme best fits the community food sector needs.

The Emergency Food Assistance Fund will be operated by Cornwall Council officers, jointly led by Neighbourhoods and Public Health, through the Food Security Workstream of the Communities and Wellbeing Recovery Group.

Cornwall Council has received a grant allocation of £678,000 from DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to launch this programme.

The Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies is for local authorities to use to support the community food sector in helping people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-authority-emergency-assistance-grant-for-food-and-essential-supplies

More information on our Council web page: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/foodgrant or email foodgrant@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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