Archive for April, 2020

Getting PPE to care providers and a new grant scheme for small businesses affected by Coronavirus

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

In my previous posts I highlighted the amazing work being done by our army of carers in extremely difficult times. I also said that we would do everything in our power to make sure we look after our most vulnerable residents and to make sure care staff have what they need to protect themselves and go about their work safely. 

We know there’s a global shortage of PPE and some care homes have been struggling to get supplies and that’s why we have stepped in to provide almost 400,000 Pieces of emergency Personal Protective Equipment PPE.  This is essential equipment that helps protect staff and residents from the virus and includes things  like face-masks, gloves, goggles,  gowns and aprons.

The county council has also pledged £13.6m to help care providers cover additional costs for staff and PPE during the crisis.

I know from talking to many smaller businesses that many are being quite badly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s important that businesses are supported through the outbreak and why we have launched a new grant scheme to help them through the crisis.

The £500,000 scheme will help micro businesses with nine employees or less and cannot get support from other Government initiatives. The emergency fund will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis and is expected to be able to support up to 500 local businesses.

Businesses could include, sole traders such as builders, plumbers and mechanics as well as hairdressers, photographers, cleaners and childminders.

There is a range of support available to businesses and I would urge people to get in contact with the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub team who can provide more information and advice.  You can find them at www.stokestaffslep.org.uk

1000th food parcel delivered to those without support

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

In a previous post, I spoke about the work we were doing to get food parcels out to some of our most vulnerable residents who don’t have any kind of support network.

Well, I’m pleased to report that today we’ve delivered our 1,000th parcel. It’s been a pretty remarkable operation to get up and running so swiftly and I would like to thank the team, staff and all the volunteers involved.

You can watch a short video showing parcels being packed and delivered here.

It’s vital that vulnerable people stay indoors and in the first instance look for support from family and friends, neighbours, or from local community groups. But, if they have no one to turn to they should contact the county council on 0300 111 8050 or click here for advice.

Our work to tackle the pandemic continues, and as ever, I would encourage people to follow the official guidance on Coronavirus here.

Together we’ll beat it.

Emergency money for care providers

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Yesterday we announced that an extra £13.6m would be given to care providers to help them combat the crippling effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The care sector has been hit particularly hard by the crisis and the emergency funding will provide immediate support to care homes and organisations who provide care to the elderly and people with disabilities.

Our army of carers do an amazing job looking after some of our most vulnerable residents day in and out, and from the outset we have said that we will do everything we can and spend every pound needed to allow them to continue this vital work.

The funding will be made up of just over £10m from the Government’s coronavirus battle fund, plus a further £3m to cover annual cost increases.  It will help care providers cover sickness costs, recruit agency staff, as well as allow them to purchase additional equipment such as masks, gloves and aprons if needed.

As I had said in previous posts, we’ll continue to do what is needed to beat this virus and by pulling together, and sticking to the official advice we will beat it.

Please stay safe and watch out for  your neighbours and older family members.

Cabinet agree funding to help in the fight against Coronavirus

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

This week we held our first fully virtual Cabinet meeting, with all councillors joining proceedings online.

Dominating the agenda was of course, Coronavirus and our work to manage the crisis and keep people safe, protect the most vulnerable and ease pressure on frontline services during the pandemic.

From the outset I said that the county council would do everything it takes and spend every pound it needs in order to help save lives and support families and businesses through the enormous challenges which still lie in the months ahead.

Amongst the emergency measures set out in the report include the allocation of £22.296m Government funding to the council’s coronavirus battle fund – with further significant extra costs expected

This comes just two months after the county council set out its own budget and plans to reduce spending by £64m by 2024.  Now due to the coronavirus response there is a risk that at least £10 million of savings included in the 2020/21 budget will not be delivered. This, together with additional costs arising from the crisis could well result in an overall financial impact in excess of £50m.

At the meeting we also agreed additional investment of £26m to build two new schools, along with millions of pounds worth of improvements to existing school buildings.   A £42.7 million package of highways improvements and transport schemes for the 2020/21 financial year was also agreed.

As I have said before, Staffordshire has always had amazing community spirit and it’s incredible to see everyone pulling together as never before to help not only family, friends and neighbours, but also to help people who until days ago were simply strangers.  Be assured our battle against Coronavirus continues and by helping each other and pulling together we can beat it.

Preparing food parcels for vulnerable residents

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

One of the things our staff and volunteers are busy doing is preparing food parcels for some of our most vulnerable residents who are self-isolating and don’t have any kind of support.

The parcels include basic items such as tinned vegetables, meat, fish and fruit, baked beans, tea and coffee, rice, pasta, cereals, porridge and toilet rolls, as well as sugar, pasta and long life milk.  You can watch a short video here of the team in action.

It’s a pretty major logistical challenge and we’re hoping to distribute around 20,000 parcels across the county over a 12-week period.

There are so many people stepping up to the challenge and volunteering in different ways to support others through the crisis and we’re incredibly grateful to all of them. this is another example of people doing their bit to support others and I would like to pass on my thanks to all of them.

As ever, I would urge everyone to keep staying safe, and to keep following the advice on social distancing and hygiene to give the NHS the best possible chance of coping with Coronavirus. 

And if someone has no support and is in need of help, they can call 0300 111 8050, or click here for advice.

Our fight against Coronavirus

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives is the message that we still all need to follow.

It really is an unprecedented situation that we all find ourselves in, but I strongly believe that by pulling together, and following the official advice from Government we can defeat the Coronavirus pandemic.

We continue to workclosely with Public Health England and all our local partners to help manage the situation locally. Our priority as a county council remains to protect the most vulnerable, that is the elderly, people with disabilities and children in our care and our staff continue to work around the clock to do this.

People are still receiving care and I would like to say a special thanks to the army of carers who continue to support the thousands of elderly and vulnerable residents right across the county despite the constant risk and challenges they face on a daily basis.

These residents rely on that support, day in and day out and the demand will only increase as the pandemic continues, as more and more people need to stay at home and avoid contact with people. 

That’s why we launched our ‘iCare’ campaign a couple of weeks ago. Through the campaign, we’re asking local people to help by signing up to provide personal care to people in need.

We’ve already had an amazing response, with around 360 people stepping up to the challenge. We’re incredibly thankful to them, but the truth is that we still need more. There’s training and support every step of the way, So if you can, please sign up. There’s more information at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/icare

We’re all in this fight against Coronavirus together, and there’s some brilliant work happening right across the county to help people stay safe and well.

Our voluntary and community sector also continue to do their bit providing support to local communities but we know they are under pressure too. That’s why we’ve launched our new COVID-19 Support Fund. 

This will provide grants to groups to help support communities through the crisis and to make sure that the voluntary sector continues to thrive now and after the crisis. 

If you’re interested, please speak to your local county councillor in the first instance. You can search for details of your local county councillor here and you can find out more about the COVID-19 Support Fund here too.

I know that if we all pull together we can beat Coronavirus, but it’s really vital that we all follow the official Coronavirus advice available here.

Once again, please take care,