Update on GBC response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Chief Executiveprovided Cabinet with an update on the activities of various council departments in the continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic since the last update in March 2021.
The Chief Executiveguided Members through the report and highlighted the following key points:
- The overall financial support administered by the Council for local residents and businesses over the past year was just under £11m.
- The Woodville became a vaccination centre for the borough and over 104,000 vaccines were delivered.
- The council continued to support the NHS Test and Trace service in contacting over 600 cases who had tested positive and many of which required detailed record checks, door knocks and follow up calls to ascertain specific information.
- Procured and started running the Rough Sleeping Service which meant more overnight sleepers were taken off the streets.
The Leader thanked the Chief Executive and Officers for a detailed report. Covid has not gone away but we are going to have to learn to live with it. The report indicated that the council allocated a significant amount of government funds to residents and businesses within Gravesham. This report does not reflect the amount of time and effort that Officers have had to do on top of their day job and trying to keep within budget.
Following questions and comments from Members, the Chief Executiveexplained that:
- The rebate of £150 for Council Taxpayers living in Band A-D will not be easy to administer based on the limited amount of information received to date regarding the scheme. The expectation will be a direct payment made by Gravesham to all our council taxpayers in Band A-D on a day to be determined using bank details held for them. There are 34,000 A-D Band properties in the borough and only 14,000 of these pay by direct debit so the council holds their bank details. Once the information has been received from Government, the council will need to obtain 20,000 bank details from residents before the payment can be actually paid out. Nationally, this could introduce a significant fraud risk obtaining bank details and setting up a portal to administer this payment. The council and other local authorities / partners will experience a number of challenges including data protection information to overcome this, but more information will be received next week.
- The New Burdens funding could meet the costs of additional staff writing to residents to obtain the relevant information. The council currently does not know the quantum and so is unable to quantify what these costs will be.
- A portal will need to be developed for these repayments. It is unsure if each authority will need to develop this portal or whether it will be a Kent wide or national portal.
- As it stands at present, any resident living in a Band A-D property on the designated date will receive that payment even if they move out the next day which will mean the new resident will not receive the payment.
- Payments will be made to the named person on the council tax system. For example, for student accommodation the payment will go direct to the landlords not the students direct where rent is paid inclusive of Council Tax. Those occupants would not have an opportunity to claim the £150 but would have to liaise with their landlord.
The Leader thanked all the Officers involved and the council is appreciative of what they have done and will be doing.
The Cabinet were asked to note the updates provided in the report.