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.
Highland Council Trading Standards are keen to raise awareness of the role of The Small Business Financial Ombudsman Service in resolving disputes between small and medium sized businesses (SME's) and financial service providers which include banks, insurance and money lending businesses. David MacKenzie, Highland Council Trading Standards Manager explains: "We realise the financial struggle that some SME's have had recently because of Covid 19 restrictions.
At the Caithness Area Committee on 22 October 2020 members unanimously confirmed their full support to the business case for Wick John O'Groats Airport to receive Public Service Obligation (PSO) status by putting forward a motion and reinforcing their commitment to working with stakeholders and partners to deliver this as a matter of urgency. The motion lodged recognises the fundamental strategic importance of Wick John O’Groats Airport to the economy of the region, and the energy, business and tourism sectors in particular.
Members of the Caithness Committee have identified fuel poverty as their number one concern and are pleased to announce that the member-led capital housing budget has increased to 10% as they welcome £2,253,000 of investment which will be used to carry out improvements to the housing stock across the county. A specific priority of the capital programme is improving heating and make homes more energy efficient, with over £1,300,000 of budget approved to replace the oldest and most inefficient heating systems with a further £150,000 for one-off heating replacements.
Highland Council Trading Standards supports FASathon - the Friends Against Scams marathon day Highland Council Trading Standards is encouraging Highland residents to take part in ‘FASathon', the Friends Against Scams marathon day, on 21st October 2020. The aim of the FASathon campaign is to get as many people as possible to complete the free Friends Against Scams online awareness session to learn about the different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others against scams.
By intervening, Local Government has reduced the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable in our communities, COSLA said today (Wednesday). COSLA also said that is why their Blueprint outlines the lead role of Local Government in securing a fair and inclusive recovery with a strong focus on human rights, tackling poverty and addressing inequalities.
In advance of the 2021 tourism season, Members of The Highland Council's Tourism Committee have agreed that the local authority will continue to work and engage with partners, national agencies and local communities to meet the challenges and opportunities that exist in the region for motorhomes and wild camping tourism. Councillor Maxine Smith, Tourism Committee Chair said: "While coronavirus and the increased demand for staycations in the UK have played a large part in the massive increase in demands placed on the Highlands of Scotland from across the UK, the evidence does show that motorhome ownership and hire has been increasing over recent years.
The Highland Council has published new information on the Coronavirus Covid-19 button on the front page of its website on how people can access the new Covid-19 Self-Isolation Support Grant. https://www.highland.gov.uk/coronavirus Funded by the Scottish Government, the new grant is available for individuals who are asked to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Protect Service, in receipt of low-income benefits and who will lose income as they are unable to work from home.
Highland Council is currently looking at options to secure the future of the lifeline ferry service at Corran Ferry, Lochaber. The local authority is responsible for operating the Corran Ferry service, which is the busiest single vessel route in Scotland.
The Highland Council would like to thank householders who have purchased a Garden Waste Collection Service permit for 2020/21. The current permit started on the 1st of September and will run until the 31st of August 2021, with collections continuing until the end of November.
The Highland Council is reminding the public that although their offices and buildings remain closed to the public a full range of support and information is still available. Access into all service point buildings continues to be currently restricted for people to complete birth registrations and other high priority registrations by appointment only, and following all current social distancing and hygiene guidance.