The Council is intending to issue an updated statement on its response to Coronavirus every Friday. This is the 8th such statement. From time to time there may well will be a need for major statements to be issued on other days.
Each of these statements will now have three sections – as follows:
A short summary of key items
A brief comment from the Council’s Chief Executive – or in his absence – his Deputy.
In addition, we will also publish - at the same time - a longer list of all the Council’s previous Coronavirus related decisions (etc) that remain relevant:
The Prime Minister is expected to make a major announcement on Sunday on plans to ease the lockdown. The implications for Borough Council services will be set out next week but, in the meantime, we should all continue to follow current Government instructions.
We should commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day today but it is vital we do so safely and responsibly. While we must not come together to celebrate we can still get involved through all the many ‘events’ highlighted on the special website www.veday75.org.
Brown bin collections will resume next week. Residents will get their garden waste collected during next week if that is their scheduled week and they normally put their brown bin out with their blue bin. Those residents who normally put their brown bin out at the same time as their black bin will get their brown bin collected during the week commencing 18th May.
The Council is telephoning all of its tenants aged 70 or over to check on their welfare. If further support or assistance is required we are making referrals for help with food, medication and other support. Around 1,000 calls (66%) have already been made and 31 referrals made.
The Council is to furlough over 200 employees (in a mix of full and part-time roles) under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. Those affected work in services such as theatres and sports centres that are unable to operate fully. We have redeployed nearly 120 staff - but we are taking this additional action and it should save the Council about £100,000 over the next three weeks.
The Council has already paid more than £20 million to 1,673 companies in Ipswich who qualify to receive either £25,000 or £10,000 from the Government’s Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. We have written again to the remaining eligible businesses (around 440 businesses) who have not yet applied. Ipswich Central are supporting the Council in trying to reach the remaining eligible businesses in the town centre.
In response to the challenges of Coronavirus, Ipswich Borough Council’s position has been updated in the following areas this week:
Vulnerable People in the ‘Shielding Group’: Data continues to be sent through from Government to Suffolk County Council (SCC) on the residents who are part of the ‘shielding group’. The Suffolk list has increased to over 22,000 in Suffolk as the NHS continues to update the list (over 2 million across the nation). The county, districts and boroughs have been proactive in contacting shielding residents that had not responded to the original NHS letter (approximately 15,000 across Suffolk) to enquire whether urgent support was required. Government food parcels are being delivered to almost 6,000 shielding residents across Suffolk. Since 2nd April 147 emergency food parcels had been delivered to Ipswich residents, with 24 of those being in the week 27th April – 3rd May.
Food Parcels: In addition to the parcels delivered by Suffolk County Council referred to above, Ipswich Borough Council has delivered 344 food parcels to 222 properties since the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ started. These are to people who are not in the shielding group but who are unable to access food any other way. We continue to work in close partnership with FIND as well as liaising with others to meet the need of Ipswich residents. An increasing number of food banks are signing up with FareShare, who are working alongside county partners to ensure an uninterrupted food supply to those food banks. Since the ‘lockdown’ started FareShare have delivered 4,000kg of food supplies to food banks across Suffolk.
Prescription Deliveries: From 20th April the County, district and borough councils, NHS, Clinical Commissioning Groups and transport providers established a system for the collection and delivery of prescriptions for those patients unable to collect themselves or without friends and family to collect on their behalf. The Borough Council’s role is to take the calls via the Home, But Not Alone number and take relevant details and pass them on to the community transport provider to collect the medicines and deliver them. From Monday 27th April to Sunday 4th May inclusive, we received 18 requests relating to collection and delivery of medicines.
Other Vulnerable People: Suffolk County Council staffed phone line, Home, But Not Alone, 0800 876 6926, diverts most people that are not in the ‘shielding group’ to the various district councils across Suffolk and the districts then provide appropriate support. Last week, 54% of the calls received to the 0800 number were diverted to the 5 Districts & Borough councils via an automated system. Of the diverted calls, 35% of these calls were diverted to Ipswich Borough Council – i.e. 19% of the total calls received on the helpline. The remaining 46% of the calls were answered by a County Council Customer Services Advisor. Last week the calls received by the Borough Council from the Home, But Not Alone helpline reduced to 169 from 205 the previous week with the two main call reasons being related to ‘food’ and ‘medicine’. These two areas accounted for 61% of all issues raised on the calls received. In the same week the Borough Council received just under 3,000 phone calls to its Customer Contact Centre – the 169 Home, But Not Alone Calls amounted to 6% of the total calls received at the Council’s contact centre. There were just over 1,000 queries raised by people via the Council’s online forms last week, a slight increase on the previous week.
Progress with homelessness: The Council provides temporary accommodation to the homeless where there is a statutory duty. During the current pandemic this has been extended to those who have certain underlying health conditions, have nowhere to safely self-isolate and rough sleepers. As the current temporary accommodation in Ipswich is at capacity, 35 rooms in an 80+ room hotel have now been block booked with an option to extend if necessary. The hotel is now accommodating 30 single people. This is in addition to the 10 single people that are being supported in bed and breakfast accommodation. Support agencies, including Health Outreach, have extended their services to support these two groups and every person will have a personal plan.
New Benefit Claims: The Council has received over 2,500 claims for benefits since 1st March this year. The number of applications received each week has been reducing since 12th April but is still significantly higher than would normally be expected each week. The number of customers who qualify for working age Local Council Tax Support is increasing as determinations of entitlement are made. The number of customers entitled to working age Local Council Tax Support and has increased from 6,999 on 1st March to 7,473.
Car Park Usage Data: The use of Council car parks over the last week was 94% lower than last year; in line with the trend of previous weeks. Crown Car Park remains closed until further notice. The car parks that are being used more frequently are Norwich Rd Shoppers, William Street and Upper Orwell St South, with the largest reductions in use being Portman Rd, West End Rd and St Peter’s Dock. The free to use parking for those in the NHS and Social Care sector increased slightly to an average of 13 stays per day with the number of registered users increasing by 17 to 123 registered users last week.
Environmental Health: The Council is working with the Police and the Trading Standards service to consistently enforce the temporary business closure legislation. To date we have received requests for advice from 18 food businesses and 8 non-food businesses as well as complaints concerning 19 food businesses and 21 non-food businesses. A significant number of complaints concern social distancing within work places – this is not enforceable under the legislation but we do contact the businesses concerned. One prohibition notice has been served.
HEARS: Ipswich Borough Council’s Home Emergency Alarm Response Service (HEARS) - which provides a much needed service to many customers - continues to provide 24/7 cover. Since the start of the pandemic (23rd March) HEARS have received 3,412 calls and made 379 safe visits to customers’ homes. HEARS has successfully contacted all of its 1283 customers to check on their welfare with 8% being provided with the Home, But Not Alone number - as it was identified that they may have been in need of more support.
Council House Tenants: The Council is contacting all of its tenants aged 70 or over by telephone to check on their welfare. The Customer Services team have adapted the Council’s inbound Community Response form for this purpose. This means that if further support or assistance is required details are being captured on the call so the tenant does not have to call back via the Home, But Not Alone number. To date 965 calls have been made (66% of this group), 710 of these have been successful and 31 referrals have been made for help with food, medication or other support.
|Scheme anouncement by Government||17th March 2020||n/a|
|First letters sent by Council to known affected businesses||26th March 2020||2,207|
|Money received from Government||1st April 2020||£26,500,000|
|First grant payment made||1st April 2020||£530,000|
|Follow up phone calls started by the Council||15th April 2020||900|
|Estimate of eligible businesses/premises||26th April 2020||2,117|
|Number of businesses paid||28th April 2020||1,673|
|Amount of money paid||28th April 2020||£20,040,000|
|Applications still awaited||28th April 2020||444|
|Received applications to be processed||28th April 2020||58|
|Borough Council national ranking as published by Government (% of money received that has been paid out)||27th April 2020||114th of 314|
Brown Bins (Garden Waste): The collection of garden waste in brown bins will re-start in the week commencing 11th May. This will be widely publicised by the local media and through the Council’s social media channels. Additionally we have been putting a sticker on all black bins presented for collection this week that advises that the service is restarting next week and asks that residents put out their brown bin on their next scheduled brown bin collection day and leave it out until it is collected as our collections may be delayed. Our publicity will be clear that residents will only get their brown bin collected week commencing 11th May if that is their scheduled week and they normally put their brown bin out at the same time as their blue bin. Those residents who normally put their brown bin out at the same time as their black bin will get their brown bin collected week commencing 18th May which is their next usual scheduled week of collection. We are increasing our resource to handle what we expect to be more brown bins than usual, with much heavier weights of material collected. We will not be collecting additional material left beside the brown bin, as this has the potential to be a manual handling and littering issue for our teams with heavy bags that may split etc.
VE Day: It is important that we commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day today (8th May) but it is vital that we do so safely and responsibly. While we must not come together to celebrate and honour the heroes who made victory possible in 1945 we can still get involved through all the many ‘events’ highlighted on the special VE Day website www.veday75.org. You can, of course, have a quiet moment of reflection by joining the national two-minute silence at 11am.
Arts / Cultural Performances: A decent summary of arts and cultural activities going on in the town during these challenging times can be found at: www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/events-activities/online-and-streamed-events/arts-activities/. Each week we will draw attention to one organisation and what performances (etc) they are making publicly available. This week, the spotlight is on Red Rose Chain Theatre Company who are live streaming (free) a play reading of The Secret Heart of Ann Boleyn: Fallen in Love at 19:30 on Tuesday 19th May. They also release a new video every Friday afternoon. For more information visit: www.redrosechain.com.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the Council’s car parks (except Crown), the Cemeteries and Crematorium and our parks will remain open. Core services such as black bin refuse collection and the HEARS service will be maintained. The Council also continues to collect blue bins and is about to re-start brown bin collections. The Council HQ at Grafton House will remain open for staff (not public access).
Council buildings [including the Regent Theatre, the Town Hall & Corn Exchange, Shop Mobility, Swimming Pools & Sports Centres, the Tourist Information Centre, the kiosks and visitor centres in Christchurch and Holywells parks, and the Museum, Art Gallery and Christchurch Mansion] will remain closed until at least 22nd May and – also - until such time as the Government restrictions are lifted and we have the ability to re-open them. We are working with the promoters of shows that were due to be at the Regent and Corn Exchange to find new dates for shows in the autumn and beyond and will continue to contact ticket holders as these arrangements are made. We have not been accepting bookings for any of our venues to hire until at least the end of June and this will remain our position for now.
The Borough Council intends to issue a full updated summary position every Friday while communicating more regularly about individual issues and services.
If you wish to contact the Council about anything please contact us via www.ipswich.gov.uk or 01473 432000 rather than visit Grafton House or the Customer Services Centre).
We know that these statements will generate a number of customer queries but we ask you to use the ‘contact us’ form on our website.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor David Ellesmere, should be available to comment if there are any media enquiries – he can be contacted via the Council’s Press Office (07736 826104).
“Ipswich Borough Council, like everyone in the country, is awaiting the Prime Minister’s proposed statement on Sunday. He is expected to announce measures to ease the current lockdown but like everyone else we do not know what these measures will be or when they will come into force.
“Needless to say, the Council will follow Government guidelines and adapt quickly to any changes. In the meantime – and moving forward – we must continue to concentrate on providing support for vulnerable residents and delivering other key services such as waste collection. Next week we will restart collecting garden waste in brown bins.
“We face an unparalleled crisis and even if we are past the peak - as health experts believe - the effects of the Coronavirus will continue to affect all of us for a long long time to come. Certainly, the Council is facing severe financial pressures as we deliver additional key services without the usual levels of income from services such as the Regent Theatre, sports facilities and car parks.
“This is why I have taken the decision to furlough more than 200 full and part-time staff under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. This is a temporary measure but it should save us around £100,000 over the next three weeks.”
Russell Williams, Chief Executive, Ipswich Borough Council