Coronavirus Update (10th Apr 2020)


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Our 10th April Easter update contains:

  1. Help us to improve these emails
  2. Lib Dem Councillors Response Update
  3. Haringey Response Update
    1. Bulky waste collections - update
    2. Planning applications - update
    3. Parks
    4. Donations needed
    5. Local Food Banks in urgent need
    6. Volunteering opportunities
  4. National Response Update
    1. Free School meals to continue over the Easter Holidays
    2. Education advice for parents and carers from the National Education Union
    3. Energy providers - paying your bills
    4. TV, Internet & mobile providers
    5. Tax payments - Updated Guidance
    6. VAT deferrals - Updated Guidance
    7. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - Updated Guidance
    8. Job Retention Scheme - Updated Guidance
    9. Furlough - additional advice
    10. Pregnany and maternity leave rights and benefits
    11. Visa & immigration - new advice
    12. How to care for your pets during the Covid-19 crisis
    13. SCAM: email about over-75s TV Licenses
 

1. Help us to improve these emails

We hope you are finding our email updates on the Coronavirus useful. We are continuously looking to improve the content, and with this in mind are asking residents to feedback their suggestions by completing a short survey.

Click here to complete our e-newsletter feedback survey


2. LIB DEM COUNCILLORS RESPONSE UPDATE


Supporting our residents

Whilst our in-person councillor surgeries have been cancelled in line with government guidance, we are still operating telephone surgeries and you can continue to reach us by email. To find you local councillor please refer to our Councillors webpage.

Alternatively if you have any questions about COVID-19, or need to get in touch for support on any other issue and are not represented by a Lib Dem councillor but would like for us to assist you, please email me directly at liz.morris@haringeylibdems.org
 

3. HARINGEY RESPONSE UPDATE


3.1 Bulky waste collections - update

The council’s bulky waste collection service has stopped until further notice in order to prioritise waste and refuse collections in the borough which are under pressure with staff off sick and self isolating.


3.2 Planning Applications - update

At the moment any planning applications received on or after 24 March will be registered by the council and can be viewed on the council’s planning portal but no public consultation will take place and therefore no planning decisions will be made until further notice.

However the planning service is still issuing decisions on applications that have already been consulted on as well as seeking to resolve a number of older cases.

They are also exploring the possibility of a remote printing service to send out consultation letters which would enable planning consultations to start again. We will continue to keep you updated.

Finally on this, the Council are also looking into virtual Planning Committee meetings in line with Government Guidance – again we will keep you updated.


3.3 Parks

Green spaces are important for residents’ health and well being, particularly residents who do not have access to outdoor space. This is why parks in the borough will remain open for the purpose of exercise including the exercising of dogs.

A reminder that parks are not for social gatherings and residents found doing this will be advised to leave and may receive a fine if they persist.

Ahead of the bank holiday weekend the council have drawn up plans for managing and keeping the parks open which will involve deploying local police teams and a team of council officers who will be patrolling throughout the day.

The council will also be re-securing outdoor gyms and play areas as well as removing equipment where there have been persistent issues with residents ignoring the restrictions. More banners and pavement stencils will also be put in place and new bench signs have started to go up this week – all reminding residents to social distance.

Concerning dogs, the council have consulted with the RSPA and The Dogs Trust and are asking that dogs should be kept on leads at all times and kept 2 metres away from people and other dogs.


3.4 Donations needed

Food Distribution Hubs at Tottenham Hotspur and Alexandra Palace
Haringey Council’s food distribution hubs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Alexandra Palace are running low on supplies and are looking for businesses and the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) to donate the following:
  • Food that can be stored (e.g. dry goods, tins, cans, packets – NO FROZEN FOOD)
  • Essential household items (e.g. sanitary products, soap, kitchen roll etc)
  • Cleaning products (for food preparation purposes)
  • Nappies, baby formula, milk
  • Plastic bags and boxes
  • Pet food
Due to government rules on social distancing and non-essential travel, the council is not asking for donations from individuals. Businesses and VCS organisations can contact connectedcommunities@haringey.gov.uk to arrange a pick up.

Individuals can make a monetary donation to Haringey Giving (a fund managed by people in the Haringey community and endorsed by Haringey Council) which is aiming to raise £50,000 to support the borough’s most vulnerable people and community initiatives in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

All donations will be doubled up to a total of £40,000 by Linklaters LLP: https://www.haringeygiving.org.uk/appeal/haringey-covid-19-appeal
 

3.5 LOCAL FOOD BANKS are in urgent need of supplies & monetary donations

Food banks continue to support residents across the borough and all also seeing supplies running desperately low. If you are able to support them please consider doing so.

Muswell Hill Foodbank (The Trussell Trust)
  1. If you need food
    • The Muswell Hill Foodbank on Pembroke Road is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You will need to get a  voucher from one of the Referral Agencies (Citizens Advice, Social Services, Job Centres, some schools and doctors surgeries and other local charities) before going to the foodbank. Strict social distancing is in place to ensure the safety of clients and volunteers.
  2. The foodbank urgently needs donations

The Holy Trinity Food Bank Stroud Green
  • Open every Sunday from 1.30pm – 3.30pm.
  • Please drop off donations at the food bank between 1.30pm - 3.30pm on Sundays. Alternatively there are dedicated collection bins at:
    • Sainsburys, 175-179 Stroud Green Road, N4 3PZ
    • Londis, 9-11 Ferme Park Road, N4 4DS
If you would like to make a monetary donation please email: htfoodbank@gmail.com and for more information visit: http://www.holytrinityfoodbank.org.uk/


Other Local Foodbanks

Trussell Trust foodbanks, including the Tottenham Food Bank, that you may wish to donate to please visit this link.


3.6 Volunteering opportunities for local residents

Our voluntary organisations are working under huge pressure and looking for more help from the community:

4. NATIONAL RESPONSE UPDATE

         
4.1 Free school meals to continue over the Easter Holidays

We are pleased to see that after Liberal Democrat MPs called on the UK Government to ensure children on free school meals will continue to receive vouchers over the Easter holidays (covered in our last update), the government has announced this week that families eligible for free school meals (FSM) will continue to receive financial help to buy food over the Easter break: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52183713


4.2 Education advice for parents and carers from the National Education Union

The National Education Union has created a site to support parents and carers to help children carry on engaging in learning while schools are closed: https://coronavirusandschools.org.uk


4.3 Energy providers - paying your bills

The government has launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to ensure you don’t face any additional hardships in heating or lighting your home during the coronavirus outbreak. If you are struggling with money problems or are repaying a debt, options will include:
  • reviewing bill payment plans, including debt repayment plans
  • payment breaks or reductions in how much you pay
  • giving you greater time to pay
  • in some cases access to hardship funds
Customers with prepayment meters who are self-isolating or unable to leave their home can now speak to their supplier about support during this time, including:
  • someone being sent to top up your prepayment card or token
  • having funds added to your meter credit
  • having a preloaded gas or electricity card sent to you in the post.
When contacting your supplier, they must tell you:
  • what customer service support is available, particularly if you are vulnerable
  • how you are supported if you can’t top up or could go off supply. 
If you think you can’t afford to pay for any extra gas or electricity used because you’re having to self-isolate at home, support will be available through your energy supplier. Your supplier must take into account how much you can afford, and will explain your options.

Note: no credit meters (where you pay for your energy after you have used it) will be disconnected during the outbreak.

Now may also be a good time for you or a loved one to join your energy provider's Priority Services Register, which can give the registered recipient priority support in an emergency, as well as allowing a nominated person to receive account information and bills. The account holder is eligible if they:
  • are of pensionable age
  • are disabled or chronically sick
  • have a long-term medical condition
  • have a hearing or visual impairment or additional communication needs
  • are in a vulnerable situation

Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register so you will need to contact your energy supplier to get on their Priority Services Register.

For further general advice on household energy bill support, please see the following page from the National Regulatory Authority: Ofgem
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-energy-supply
and for information on the Priority Services Register click here.


4.4 TV, Internet & mobile providers

The UK’s major internet service and mobile providers, namely BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone and Three have all agreed to a set of commitments.

  • All providers have committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of Covid-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
  • All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband
  • All providers have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
  • All providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out.

For TV subscribers:

Virgin Media and Sky TV are allowing customers to pause payments on Sky Sport and Bt Sport channels. You'll still be able to watch the channels you’ve paused, but you won’t be charged. Complete the following forms to pause your subscription

If you’re having trouble paying your bills please contact your provider directly.


4.5 Tax payments – Updated Guidance

All businesses and self-employed that find themselves in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. This support is available now, and arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. Anyone who is running a business or is self-employed and is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus, can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222

View the following links for more information on:


4.6 VAT deferrals – Updated Guidance

For those who are unable to pay VAT due between 20 March and end June 2020, payment can be deferred to 31 March 2021. There is no need to apply as eligibility is automatic. Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. It is very important this is done in sufficient time.

Updated guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19


4.7 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme - Updated Guidance

Over the weekend the Government announced an extension to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme to support small businesses.

Previously only viable small businesses unable to secure regular commercial financing were eligible - now all viable small businesses are eligible. The Government is also waiving the requirement for personal guarantees for loans under £250,000.

To find out more about the scheme click the following link: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils-2/


4.8 Job Retention Scheme - Updated Guidance

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows businesses to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Updated guidance for employers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Updated guidance for employees: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


4.9 Furlough – additional advice

The government has issued additional advice on the furlough scheme. Notably, it provides advice for those wanting to take on a temporary job whilst being furloughed from a permanent one; on paternity/maternity leave; and includes details for those in specific categories such as agency workers; company directors; a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership; Limb workers and office holders.

Importantly, if you were made redundant, changed jobs and are therefore not eligible for the furlough scheme with your new employer, or stopped working for your employer after 28 February 2020, your previous employer can agree to re-employ you and place you on furlough. They’ll still be able to claim a grant to cover 80% of your regular wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500 if you were on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020.

More information on the Job Retention Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Information on being rehired to be placed on furlough: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/04/left-a-job-after-28-feb-and-new-job-fell-through--you-can-be-reh/


4.10 Pregnancy and maternity leave rights and benefits

Maternity Action has produced COVID-19 related advice for pregnant women and new parents. There are FAQ sections on health & safety adjustments at work; maternity pay and benefits; the furlough scheme; and other issues. They are advising that, under existing health & safety law, pregnant women should be offered home working or safe alternative work, or suspended on full pay, and have produced a model letter for pregnant women to send to their employer.

The advice is here: https://maternityaction.org.uk/covidmaternityfaqs/
The letter is here: https://twitter.com/MaternityAction/status/1246355587287453697


4.11 Visa & immigration – new advice

The government has issued new guidance for visa applicants and temporary UK residents, including for doctors, nurses, paramedics and their families: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

General Covid-19 visa and immigration related content can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-and-borders


4.12 How to care for your pets during the Covid-19 crisis

The RSPCA’s Q&A can be found here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/blogs/details/-/articleName/how-to-care-for-your-pets-if-you-re-ill-or-have-to-self-isolate-due-to-coronavirus


4.13 SCAM: email about over-75s TV licences

Please note that over 75's do not need to pay anything yet for their TV licence. There are a lot of scam emails asking for payment for the TV licence fee.

The TV licensing website  https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/coronavirus says the following:

"Due to the impact of Coronavirus the BBC has delayed the planned changes to the free over 75 TV Licence. This means you don’t need to do anything right away and your current free licence will be automatically extended. We’ll be writing to all current free over 75 TV Licence holders before the policy changes to let them know what they need to do."


We thank you for all you are doing to support the community during this difficult time. As ever, please do get in touch should you require any support, have any questions, or for any other matter we can assist with.

And please consider completing our e-newsletter feedback survey so we can continue to provide the most useful information to our residents.
 
Click here to complete our e-newsletter feedback survey
Yours faithfully,
Cllr Liz Morris
Haringey Leader of the Opposition | Haringey Liberal Democrats
liz.morris@haringeylibdems.org | www.haringeylibdems.org

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