Busy First Week For Highland Council's Covid-19 Helpline
1st April 2020
Since The Highland Council's dedicated helpline went live last Wednesday afternoon staff have dealt with over 1,600 calls.
The helpline has been set to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support. In the first 7 days the majority of the callers have been seeking support for businesses, along with providing offers to volunteer. Already we have over 240 groups offering assistance.
The single line helpline - 0300 303 1362 - is open between 8am and 6pm and is staffed by volunteers from Eden Court and the Council. As well as directly assisting callers, staff, who are all home based, are also signposting people to other organisations that can provide help and assistance too. All calls are free.
The Council is encouraging people to also continue to use their online forms to make payments, report problems and request a service. There are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from www.highland.gov.uk
To make a payment visit https://www.highland.gov.uk/pay
To report a problem visit https://www.highland.gov.uk/report
To request a service visit https://www.highland.gov.uk/request
A council spokesman said: "The statistics for the first week show how busy our staff are. This is a helpline for customers requiring or offering support during the coronavirus situation. If anyone has a query relating to other urgent council business, they should contact our Service Centre on 01349 886602 or continue to use on-line forms and resources as much as possible to ensure those most in need of assistance can be supported."
If anyone receives a Sheilding letter from NHS requiring them to self- isolate for 12 weeks and they require support, they should contact the Council’s dedicated shielding helpline at 01349 886669 and if they require food support, they should telephone the number provided in their letter.
Following discussions at the recent Council meeting, the Council Leader has formally written to the Local Government Boundary Commission on their proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in the Highland Council area. She advised the Boundary Commission that the Council rejected the Commission's proposals in their entirety and formally requested that they halt this process immediately and review the whole issue of remote and rural area boundaries and councillor numbers in consultation with the Highland Council and other local authorities who have mainland councils with inhabited islands.
The Scottish Government has launched a £1,500 grant scheme to assist each individual licensed taxi or private hire driver with their fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. The Highland Council's Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said: "The Highland Council has been asked by the Scottish Government to deliver this grant scheme on their behalf.
Applicants for the Scottish Government's Temporary Business Closure Grant can now apply even if they do not have a formal business bank account. Businesses will now be able to use a personal bank account as evidence, if the account is mainly used for their business banking.
A significant top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level 4 restrictions will be paid following an announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of.
Members at yesterday's previously adjourned and re-scheduled meeting of Highland Council voted to carry a motion introduced to make adjustments to the agenda in light of the situation in relation to COVID-19 and Brexit. The urgent motion was proposed by Highland Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson and supported by the Leader of the official Opposition, Cllr Raymond Bremner.
The Highland Council has issued a letter to all parents providing an update regarding the reopening of schools and early learning and childcare settings following the announcement made yesterday by the First Minister that the country is now in a national lockdown. All Highland schools will remain open but the only pupils who should attend are those identified as vulnerable and the children of Key Workers when no other arrangements can be made.
The Highland Council met today (7 January 2021) and took the opportunity to discuss Brexit. A number of issues arising from the UK's exit from the EU were discussed and the complexity of the situation was recognised particularly since there are a number of other concurrent issues such as COVID.
The Council wishes to provide re-assurance to communities that it's Winter Gritting teams are continuing to work extremely hard throughout the area during the current lock-down, providing a road and pavement gritting service following the Council's policy on prioritisation of routes. Details of the council's highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the Council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.
The Highland Council today launched the Temporary Business Closure Grant. This grant is available for businesses who have had to close due to the COVID-19 protective measures introduced on Boxing Day.
The Highland Council is giving more time for people to take part in it's draft food growing strategy - Growing Our Future. The extension, until the 28 February, will allow outcomes from the up-coming Highland Good Food Conversation to be incorporated in the strategy.