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.
Nominations are being invited from people seeking election to 15 Highland community councils covering areas in Caithness Sutherland, Easter Ross, Wester Ross, Isle of Raasay, the Black Isle, Inverness, Nairnshire, Badenoch and Strathspey and Lochaber. Community Councils are voluntary organisations that express the views and concerns of local people within their area across a wide range of issues from new buildings and roads to local services and facilities.
COSLA leaders meet tomorrow (Friday 5 August 2022) to discuss the local government pay offer and how they can avert substantial, long term, strikes in 1200 schools and early years centres and waste and recycling centres in councils across Scotland . UNISON is urging COSLA to use this leaders meeting to agree a substantially improved pay offer to avert serious disruption across Scotland - otherwise few if any councils will avoid some level of significant disruption.
The Highland Council is urging businesses - particularly those in the tourism and hospitality sectors - to be prepared for the end of relaxation of planning and building warrant controls on 30 September 2022. In line with changes to the COVID-19 guidance from the Scottish Government many of the pandemic mitigations that were put in place in terms of the provision of temporary structures and their uses – are no longer required.
The Highland Council has launched a public consultation to ask people's views on where and how they would like to see free period products made available in the Highland area. In 2021, Scotland became the first country to pass a law to make period products freely available and reasonably easily accessible to anyone who needs them.
At the Highland Council meeting held on, 30 June 2022, elected Members agreed to progress the submission of two separate bids for round two of the UK Levelling Up Fund, these include the North Coast 500 (Transport Bid) and Portree Harbour (standalone Heritage bid). Economy and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans said: "The Levelling Up Fund offers Highland an opportunity to bid for funds that will make a transformational impact across our communities.
Members of full Council, who met yesterday - Thursday, 30 June – were presented with a report on the UK Government's Shared Prosperity Fund and provided with an update on the process currently underway to develop a Highland Investment Plan which will determine how the funding may be used locally. A financial allocation of £9,445,515 has been awarded to Highland Council over a three-year period, which runs from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025.
At the Highland Council meeting held yesterday, 30 June 2022, elected Members approved a package of support totalling £3.639m for low-income households and economic growth. The approved package consists of: £0.591m - one-off grants of £125 each will be paid automatically for around 4,700 vulnerable children and young people in Primary 1 to 6th year who received school clothing grants as at 31 May 2022.
A report outlining the key points within The Highland Council's annual accounts for the year to 31st March 2022 was presented to full Council today (30 June 2022), ahead of their submission for full audit. The report shows that the Council continued to demonstrate strong financial management during financial year 2021/22, with an overall surplus of £9m recorded against the revenue budget for the general fund.
Councillor Ron Gunn, who represents the Thurso and Northwest Sutherland Ward of The Highland Council, has been appointed as Chair of the new Caithness Committee which met for the first time (Friday 1 July 2022). After taking the Chair, Cllr Gunn thanked Members for their support and then called for nominations to the roles of Vice Chairs and Civic Leaders for Thurso and Wick.
A pioneering bid for Green Freeport status by the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium today received seismic boost after Members of Highland Council homologated the local authority's cross-chamber support. Members agreed their continued support for the OCF project and Green Freeport bid and acknowledged the potential benefits to the Highland region.