Trafford Council leader Andrew Western insists his “top priority” is keeping essential services going in the borough as he unveiled a series of measures to help residents and businesses.
Cllr Western said the escalating coronavirus outbreak presented an “unprecedented challenge” for the local authority.
He laid out a range of measures for residents and businesses who had been so badly affected:
- All recovery action on debts, including for prior years, has been suspended for three months.
- Staff are being redeployed from recovery work to proactively ensure residents get access to financial support, such as the 100% Council Tax Support award to those out of work from day one.
- The authority will also ensure that its Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS) continually changes to reflect changes in national benefits through the Council’s discretionary schemes.
- Businesses who have received money from Trafford’s town centre loan schemes can now benefit from a six month repayment holiday to help them.
- Trafford companies entitled to the extended 100% rates reliefs will no longer be required to pay their 2020/21 business rates bill and therefore Direct Debits due for the 1 April will be cancelled;
- The council will agree special payment arrangements with any/all other businesses who contact us, initially delaying the 1st instalment due to 1 July 2020, and spreading the remaining instalments over the rest of the year. We will encourage those business to re-contact us again in June if they will have difficulty with the July instalment
- As with residents, all recovery action against businesses, including for prior years, has been suspended for 12 weeks.
He also detailed a series of measures linked to services, including:
- The council’s Adult Services team is working closely with NHS partners and care providers to continue those services
- It is also increasing the delivery of local welfare assistance (Trafford Assist) schemes food and gas/electricity awards to cover self-isolation periods.
- Council staff are working with Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK, Trafford Housing Trust and Thrive to support the many local community groups that have sprung up to help those most in need. The intention is to establish a telephone line and five community hubs across the borough where volunteers can be assigned to help for example, with food parcels and vouchers
- Libraries in Altrincham, Sale, Urmston and Coppice will remain open for the time being, with reduced hours.
- The council is reducing green bin collections and concentrating on making sure the grey, blue and black bins are emptied as normal.
Cllr Western said: “We are facing an unprecedented challenge and our priority is to ensure that we continue to deliver essential services to everyone in Trafford but with a particular focus on those who are most vulnerable.
“We have already been working closely with health services and other partners to ensure we respond as effectively as we can to what is a very fast-moving situation where national guidance is, by necessity, changing on a daily basis.
“Throughout the delay phase the health and wellbeing of our residents, Council staff and people coming to work in the borough will continue to be one of our priorities.
“I recognise the Council has a vital role to play in providing civic leadership and setting out what the latest government guidance means for the borough.”