The NHS and Public Health England are well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal.

Coronavirus: 10 things you need to know and do

23/11/2020

COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Swindon and the simple truth is that halting this depends on each of us doing the right thing for ourselves and our communities.

That means each of us taking responsibility for knowing what we need to do to in the different situations we could find ourselves in, plus knowing where to go for support and help.

Sadly we’re seeing too many examples of people who think they can disregard the rules and take unnecessary risks. This risk taking has the potential to expose you to the virus and increases the chances that you have to self-isolate along with everyone you’ve been in recent close contact with.

If the thought of cutting corners ever does cross your mind, remember what is at stake: our health, wellbeing and livelihoods. It’s down to each of us to avoid overwhelming the NHS so it can continue to provide the treatment and advice we depend on.

Forewarned is forearmed. Keep yourself and others safe by reading below 10 things you need to know and do.

Swindon: it’s up to all of us.

  1. What should I do if someone in my household has COVID-19, or has symptoms?
  2. What do I need to do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?
  3. How and where can I get tested for COVID-19?
  4. What do I need to do if I receive a negative COVID-19 test result?
  5. What do I need to do if I receive a positive COVID-19 test result?
  6. What can I do to look after mine and my families’ mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic?
  7. How can I reduce the spread of COVID-19 in my household?
  8. What do I need to do if I’m clinically extremely vulnerable?
  9. What support is available to me if I’m employed but cannot work due to COVID-19?
  10. What help is available if I lose my job due to COVID-19?

Grants available for businesses in Swindon impacted by national COVID-19 restrictions

23/11/2020

Eligible firms in Swindon who have been affected by national COVID-19 restrictions can now apply for the next set of government grants being processed by Swindon Borough Council.

More than £30m has already been distributed to businesses on behalf of the Government and applications for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) are now open.

Eligible businesses which have been impacted by the national restrictions can receive grant payments for the period between 5 November to 2 December 2020.

The LRSG scheme is aimed at supporting businesses which have been mandated to close since 5 November and have live business rates accounts with the Council, even if rate relief has been awarded. Unlike the previous scheme, there is no upper limit for business rates values.

Businesses who can apply include those providing direct, in-person services on their premises, including those which have found alternative, safe methods of trading such as new takeaway services from a restaurant. Levels of funding for these grants are set by the Government and will be allocated to eligible applicants based on the business property’s rateable value.

Applications for the LRSG scheme are open until 5pm on Wednesday, 2 December 2020.

Alternatively, the ARG scheme aims to support small businesses which are not eligible for the LRSG scheme but have lost income since 4 November due to the national restrictions. Businesses which are eligible for this scheme do not need to have a live business rates account.

The ARG scheme is open for applications until 5pm on Friday, 11 December 2020.

Full guidance, criteria and application forms for both schemes can be found on the Council’s website at: www.swindon.gov.uk/covidbusiness

Businesses can apply with a simple online form and grant payments will be made as quickly as possible once applications have been approved.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “We know these are challenging times for many businesses, but our officers are working incredibly hard to get this money into eligible firms’ bank accounts as soon as possible.

“I would urge any business which is facing financial challenges as a result of the pandemic to head to our website and see if you might be eligible for one of these grants. Here, you’ll also find plenty of other advice and places to go for the support you need.”

Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health

17/11/2020

We are now over a week into the four week period of new national restrictions in force in England until 2 December.

We continue to see a rise in Swindon’s case rate – there will be a time lag before the impact of the national restrictions shows up in the data. As of today (13 Nov), Swindon’s case rate was 197.1 cases per 100,000, which remains above the average for the South West region of 167.3 per 100,000 but below the 254.5 per 100,000 case rate for England as a whole. In the last seven days, there have been 438 new positive cases in Swindon.

COVID-19 continues to impact communities across Swindon. This week the Council wrote to over 8,000 clinically extremely vulnerable residents to explain the support available to them. These residents are advised to stay at home, except for exercise or essential health appointments. Others living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend work and school following the general national restrictions guidance.

I know that some residents rely on car sharing to get to work or as part of carrying out their duties. As it is difficult to keep your distance during car journeys, we have seen how car sharing has helped the virus to spread in Swindon. You can reduce the risk of transmission by not car sharing if at all possible but if you must then:

  • share transport with the same people each time
  • minimise the group size at any one time
  • ensure the driver and passengers wear a face covering
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • face away from each other
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • ensure the car is cleaned between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch

There are no shortcuts to protecting ourselves, our loved ones and the community. Our behaviours, decisions and the actions we take each day are critical – they all count towards our collective effort to reduce the spread of infection in the community to save lives and protect the NHS.

For more information and updates read the full E-Newsletter.

Council highlights local support to vulnerable residents at risk of COVID-19

16/11/2020

Thousands of local people who have been identified by the NHS as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus will receive a letter from Swindon Borough Council over the coming days.

The letter, which is being sent out to around 8,000 residents, sets out the local support available to vulnerable residents who do not have any support network.

New government guidance says people who are at the highest risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 should stay at home as much as possible and only leave their homes to exercise outdoors or to attend health appointments.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable were also advised in a letter from the Government to refrain from going to shops or pharmacies due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the country.

In order to help those affected, the Council has offered to assist anyone who does not have a support network so they can continue to get their food and medication.

This includes providing advice on how to join priority shopping schemes and how to sign up to the NHS Responder scheme for shopping and medication collection. For those who do not have family and friends to help them, the council will use local volunteers do people’s shopping and deliver it to their doors.

Council staff will also be on hand to signpost people to the most appropriate local support for wellbeing advice about staying well and connected during this time.

The letter offers advice on staying active and highlights the support available from Citizens Advice Swindon, which offers all Swindon residents free, confidential, impartial and independent advice on a range of topics.

A range of support measures are also available on the Council’s webpage at www.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus and vulnerable residents can find information on how to access essential food, household supplies and prescriptions by visiting www.swindon.gov.uk/helpandsupport

Anyone who is in urgent need of food and essentials and does not have the funds to pay or anyone to support them, can apply to the Council’s Emergency Assistance Fund online at www.swindon.gov.uk/emergencyhelp or by calling 01793 445500. Each application is considered on its own merits.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “This is an unbelievably difficult time for those people who have underlying health conditions and are being asked by the Government to take extra precautions to protect them from this terrible virus.

“But I want to assure them that help is at hand and we will do everything we can to support them should they need it.

“It is our duty to support the most vulnerable people in our communities and I am incredibly proud of the work of our staff, and our partners in the health and voluntary sectors, who are continuing to go the extra mile during this pandemic.”

National Lockdown: Where Swindon goes from here

10/11/2020

Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health

The next four weeks will be challenging for all of us, as we live with the new national restrictions now in force in England until 2 December. But the Government’s decision to introduce them, agreed by Parliament, was informed by clear evidence that hospitals across the region were projected to run out of capacity in a matter of weeks.

As of yesterday (5 Nov), Swindon’s case rate was 177.3 cases per 100,000, which is now above the average for the South West region of 153.3 per 100,000 but below the 236.6 per 100,000 case rate for England as a whole. In the last seven days, there have been 394 new positive cases in Swindon.

It is more important than ever that we all take steps to reduce the spread of infection in the community to save lives and protect the NHS.

Early next week we will be contacting Swindon residents who are considered to be ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. This group includes those with reduced immune systems, for example due to organ transplants, or those with specific cancers or severe respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past. Clinically extremely vulnerable residents should have received a letter from the Government this week advising on what you need to do during lockdown. A letter from the Council next week will explain the local help and support on offer to you.

I would like to stress that during these national restrictions, the Government is supporting the NHS to safely carry out urgent and non-urgent services. It is vital that anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help.

If there is anyone in your household with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection: this is what you need to do.

Thank you for playing your part to protect yourself, your loved ones and the thousands of vulnerable and at-risk residents across our community.

For more information and updates read the full E-Newsletter.

New National Restrictions from 5 November

03/11/2020

Information on the new national restrictions, including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available.

Please view the latest Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november?mc_cid=365fbc5323&mc_eid=e42e575539

We are here

03/11/2020

Throughout lockdown, over Christmas or any when else if you are on your own and need help – please contact the Parish Council on clerk@chiseldon-pc.gov.uk or 07570 167455. We will ask a volunteer to assist you where possible or signpost you to some help if it’s something we cannot help you with. We can help with shopping, collecting prescriptions or electricity card top ups etc. Thanks (The phone line isn’t actively monitored but any missed calls will be replied to)

Extra efforts deployed to help keep town safe

02/11/2020
Swindon's covid safety marshals and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)
Swindon’s covid safety marshals and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)

This weekend will see the first patrol from Swindon’s Covid safety marshals.

Using funding from Central Government, Swindon Borough Council is working with Wiltshire Police to keep people safe during busy periods of the evening in areas such as the Town Centre and Old Town.

The Council’s Covid safety marshals will work alongside Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to help support businesses to follow COVID-19 guidelines while also encouraging the public to follow safety measures such as social distancing, wearing face coverings in appropriate settings and hand washing.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “We will work with the police to ensure the Covid safety marshals are deployed in areas where we have local intelligence and public health information as to areas of highest risk.

“This is about adding an additional resource to what we’re already doing, to try to keep people as safe as possible by reminding them about social distancing and face masks. And to help businesses to follow the rules. We want to help everyone to keep COVID-19 within manageable limits in Swindon.

“Please continue to follow the guidance and visit the Council’s website if you’re not sure about what you need to be doing or if you want any further information and advice.”

Superintendent Adrian Burt, head of policing in Swindon, said: “We welcome this move from Swindon Borough Council and know that these Covid marshals will provide an increased capacity for proactive patrols of the night-time economy in Swindon during the coming weekends and in the build up to Christmas.

“Our police officers and police community support officers will be working closely with these marshals to ensure our communities understand the importance of the Government’s Covid restrictions, as well as issuing warnings and enforcement action when needed.

“Partnership working with our local authority colleagues is a key part of our approach, as we engage with residents, businesses and licensees to ensure cooperation to help keep the people of Swindon safe.”

Further information about keeping safe in Swindon can be found at: www.swindon.gov.uk/itsuptoallofus

Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health

30/10/2020

Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health

20/10/2020

Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health

12/10/2020

Mental Health and Covid-19

07/10/2020

For information about how Covid-19 pandemic may have impacted on our mental health and some positive actions we can make to reduce the impact, please visit: www.rehab4addiction.co.uk/coronavirus/coronavirus-mental-health-infographic. There is also advice on how we can look out for signs and symptoms that our loved ones are struggling with their mental health and how to help them if they are.

Have you downloaded the NHS COVID-19 app?

28/09/2020

Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health

Steve Maddern, Director of Public HealthEarlier this week, the Prime Minister announced new England-wide measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus as we head towards winter.

It can be a challenge to keep up with the changes, but please read these frequently asked questions to make sure you’re up to date and able to keep you, your loved ones and the wider community safe. It’s important to know that from next Monday (28 September), people are required by law to self-isolate when instructed to by NHS Test and Trace.

The NHS COVID-19 app is now available, which will be used alongside traditional contact tracing to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus. The app allows people to report symptoms, order a coronavirus test, check in to venues by scanning a QR code and it helps the NHS trace individuals that have coronavirus. Businesses and venues are now displaying the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises, using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details.

Taking the essential prevention measures and following government guidance needs to remain front and centre in our daily lives for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for continuing to play your part.

Read the full news story: https://www.chiseldon-pc.gov.uk/have-you-downloaded-the-nhs-covid-19-app/

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed

22/09/2020

The government has today announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England. To read the changes see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-what-has-changed-22-september

Council reinforces COVID safety messages to local residents

11/08/2020

People in Swindon are being reminded to follow public health advice in order to bring the town’s COVID-19 case rate down.

Swindon Borough Council’s Public Health team is writing to thousands of households following an increase in cases across the Borough in recent weeks.

Last Friday (7 August), the Government described Swindon as “an area of concern” on its national COVID-19 watchlist following a spike in cases in the week up to 2 August involving workers at the XPO Logistics distribution centre in Penzance Drive.

Although that outbreak is now well under control, with no new cases reported for several days, the Council is taking additional steps to contain the disease and prevent a community spread of COVID-19, which may result in local lockdown measures. This comes after just under 50 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Swindon over the weekend.

The current fast-evolving situation is being closely monitoring by the Council working alongside central government. The latest case and contact tracing data shows that a high proportion of new confirmed cases are among residents living in the SN1 and SN2 postcodes.

This week the Council is delivering letters to residents in the SN1 and SN2 areas of the town to remind them of what they need to do to control the virus.

In the letter, the Council’s Director of Public Health, Steve Maddern, has urged people to protect themselves and others by continuing to wash their hands, cover their faces if in enclosed spaces, and to stay at least one-metre apart from people not in their own household.

Mr Maddern also reinforced the need for people to stay at home, even if they have mild symptoms of coronavirus, namely: a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change to people’s sense of smell or taste.

Crucially, if anyone has any symptoms they must book a test and not leave home for at least 10 days. Those living in households should self-isolate for 14 days if they or any members of the household receive a positive test. Staying at home, means not going out for any reason, including to work, or to the shops.

Steve Maddern, Swindon Borough Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “The events of the last few weeks have shown us quite clearly that COVID-19 has not gone away.

“We are waging an ongoing battle against an enemy we cannot see and, with lockdown restrictions having eased, there is a temptation to think everything is okay. We are a long way from that point. My message to everyone is simple – do not let your guard down.

“If you have even the slightest COVID-19 symptom, stay at home, book a test and make sure you self-isolate for at least 10 days. If you are part of a family, they too have to self-isolate if you fall ill. This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but if you don’t act, Swindon won’t be able to control the virus.”

Find out more about the Job Retention Bonus Scheme

13/07/2020

Dear customer,

Today the Chancellor announced the introduction of the Job Retention Bonus.

This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.

To be eligible, employees will need to:

  • earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January
  • have been furloughed by you at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • have been continuously employed by you up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

Other new measures announced

The Chancellor also announced other measures, including:

  • the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – during August, diners can get 50% off Monday to Wednesday on meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, when eating at participating restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments that have registered
  • VAT reduction – from 15‌‌‌ ‌July until 12‌‌‌ ‌January 2021, the UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos
  • an increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold in England and Northern Ireland – increasing the threshold under which no SDLT is paid on the purchase of a main home from £125,000 to £500,000, with immediate effect until 31‌‌‌ ‌March 2021.

For more information, search ‘plan for jobs’ on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

Updates on CJRS scheme

We would also like to make you aware of some key dates on the CJRS scheme that might affect you:

Claiming for employees furloughed on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌June

You need to claim by 31‌‌‌ ‌July for employees furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for periods ending on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌June.

Get ready for changes from 1‌‌‌ ‌August

You will no longer be able to use a CJRS grant to cover National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions for furloughed employees from 1‌‌‌ ‌August. You can submit your August claim in advance, from 20‌‌‌‌‌‌ ‌July.

Working out your claims

You can use our online examples and calculator to help you work out what you can claim, for claims ending on or before 31‌‌‌ ‌July. From 10‌‌‌ ‌July you will also be able to use these to help you work out claims ending on or before 31‌‌‌ ‌August. Search for ‘calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK.

Made a mistake on your claim?

You can now delete a claim online within 72 hours of submitting it. Search ‘claim for wages through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

Calls to customers

We are contacting selected employers to discuss their claims. These calls will be to check they haven’t made any mistakes and to help make sure they’re claiming the correct amount.

Further support

Live webinars on changes to the scheme and how they impact you are available to book online – search ‘help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus’ on GOV‌‌‌.UK. Please leave our phone lines open for those who need them most.

Protect yourself from scams

Stay vigilant about scams which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening. Search ‘scams’ on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

I hope this information helps you and your business, and we’ll continue to keep you updated on scheme developments over the coming weeks.

Yours sincerely

Jim Harra

Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary – HMRC

Update on Covid 19

29/06/2020

You can see the full newsletter here.

Dear residents,

The past few months have been a challenge for all of us but I’m incredibly proud of how the community across Swindon has rallied round to support one another.

This newsletter can help you find out more about the important announcements made by the Government this week on the further easing of lockdown restrictions.

It’s important we all understand and follow the latest guidance, so that we continue to keep each other safe and limit the risk posed by COVID-19.

The Council is carefully reviewing this information, to plan how and when we can re-start, extend or deliver services in a different way that is safe for you and our staff.

As we all adapt to the situation, we will of course keep you updated.

Latest government updates

From Saturday, 4 July 2020:

  • Where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission
  • Two households of any size will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures
  • Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen
  • You can stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, including hotels and bed & breakfasts, as well as campsites
  • Outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades as well as libraries, social clubs and community centres can reopen if they can do so safely
  • Venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, water parks and spas will remain closed

Find out more about what you can and can’t do until the 4 July.

Coronavirus: Guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable

Those classed as extremely vulnerable who have been told to shield should continue until Monday, 6 July 2020.

  • After 6 July, you can gather outdoors in groups of up to six people from different households whilst maintaining social distancing
  • You no longer need to social distance from other members of your household
  • If you live alone, you can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household

From Saturday, 1 August 2020 shielding will be replaced by social distancing.

Here for Swindon

A lot has changed recently. From the places we’re able to visit to the people we’re able to see. What hasn’t changed though, is the incredible support you continue to show to the people in your community.

We know that the road ahead is uncertain and you might be feeling a little anxious, but we, along with the emergency services, our partner agencies and charities are here for you whenever you need us.

Here are just a few examples of the ways we’ve been HereForSwindon.

Next week Cabinet are due to decide whether to roll out a food waste recycling service across the entire borough following the successful trial.

Love Food, Hate Waste

In our waste strategy consultation over 70% of respondents said they would use a food waste recycling service if it was offered to them. If agreed, food waste collections could be extended to all 97,000 households in Swindon, in the future.

You can visit Love Food Hate Waste for help reducing your food waste.

Household Waste Recycling Centre

The Household Waste Recycling Centre(HWRC) is open, with a reduced capacity, for pre-booked visits only. This is to ensure we can maintain the safety of residents, staff and other site users and operate within the social distancing guidelines.

Please note if you attend the site without a booking you will be turned away and asked to return once you have a confirmed booking.

Get more information on the HWRC or book a slot here.

Thank you to Morrisons

Thank you to Morrison’s Haydon Wick, for kindly donating food to Fessey House care home. Your continued support is really appreciated by our staff and residents.

Visiting shops in Swindon

As lockdown restrictions ease, more retailers have begun to reopen their doors. The Government has advised that non-essential retailers can reopen, as long as they make sure customers and staff are able to follow social distancing and public safety measures. If you are planning to visit the town centre or other shopping areas, you might find this key information helpful.

Garden waste

Are you gardening more than usual? Why not subscribe to our garden waste collections. Our team will collect your garden waste straight from your home. No contact. No hassle.

Other news

More sources of information

Help for vulnerable residents to access food parcels and prescriptions

Latest status of all council services

How the Council is supporting residents and businesses

How you can support your community

See our daily report of waste and recycling collections

Pre-book a slot at the Household Waste Recycling Centre

Book a coronavirus test if you or someone in your household has symptoms

Notice from Ridgeway View Family Practice

24/06/2020

We have received the following communicationn from Ridgeway View Family Practice:

The latest Government advice is to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces: face coverings may be beneficial where it is hard to follow social distancing measures and you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

With immediate effect we are asking ALL patients attending the surgery to wear a FACE COVERING to help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease. Face coverings should NOT be used on children under the age of 3 or those who may not be able to manage them correctly.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Additional help for residents claiming council tax support

17/06/2020

Working Age people claiming council tax support in Swindon are eligible for a further one-off grant following additional funding from the Government.

Swindon Borough Council has been allocated just over £1.3m in funding from the Government to help working age council tax claimants who are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has asked councils to grant each council tax support working age claimant an additional one off payment of £150 council tax support or pay off their outstanding council tax balance if their council tax is less than £150. This will be applied to council tax accounts automatically and revised bills should be received in the middle of June.

Due to more people experiencing financial hardship during the current period, the number of people claiming council tax support has increased with the Council receiving an additional 1,300 claims between April and May 2020.

The latest support for people facing financial hardship is the latest in a series of measures from the Council to help residents and businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

The #HereForSwindon package of support includes providing free parking for NHS staff and volunteers, free childcare for key workers and extending bus passes for older and disabled people.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the ‘Swindon Emergency Assistance Fund’ has also been used to provide food and essentials to people who could not make payments and are being ‘shielded’.

Councillor Russell Holland, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and Cabinet Member responsible for Finance, said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone and the Council is doing everything it can to help.

“This latest funding from the Government is very welcome. More than 3,300 people in Swindon are already receiving 100 per cent council tax support, but we know there are likely to be many more residents who may be entitled to this one-off funding.

“If you are currently in financial hardship and believe you may be entitled to council tax support please get in touch and our officers will be only too happy to help.”

Further information about the Council’s #HereForSwindon package of support can be found at: www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon

Brighter Futures Update

10/06/2020

COVID-19 Support Appeal Update

We would like to say a big thank you to everybody who has supported us during the last six weeks during these unprecedented times.

So far donations to our COVID-19 Support Appeal has reached £73,219.52.  This includes a grant from NHS Charities together of £35,000 which we have gratefully received.

Not only have we been overwhelmed by the monetary donations but we have also received amazing support from local businesses which has helped us to provide wellbeing packages to all staff across the hospital and our community healthcare sites.

With your continued support we hope to maintain the service we are offering to boost staff morale and provide the added extras for as long as this situation goes on.Click here for more information.

How can you be a hero?

Looking for some inspiration for your daily exercise allowance?

Why not take on our Virtual Superhero Run/Jog or Walk?

This virtual activity is open to all ages and one way you can fundraise for our COVID-19 Support Appeal.

Click here to enter.

Important Information from GWH

If you need any information regarding Great Western Hospital, please go to the hospital’s website.

There is information about how you can help, work or volunteer opportunities and information for patients and visitors.

The information is being updated all the time with new information.

Click here for GWH main website.

Donation Information

With regards to the transmission of COVID-19 we are not accepting cash and cheques into the office until further notice.

If cheques are received during this time, these will be stored until our Cashier Department reopens and we will write to thank you as soon as we can.

If you do wish to donate to our COVID-19 Appeal our preferred method is through our appeal page. However, we are able to accept bank transfers, please call us on 01793 605631 and we will share the charity bank account details with you or we can take a card donation over the phone.

Event Information

In response to the guidance and advice about the COVID-19 Virus, the Brighter Futures Team have taken the decision to postpone all of our events until it is safe to do so.

We know this will be disappointing, but the safety of all our supporters is our priority as well as our colleagues within the NHS.

We are in the process of confirming new dates and we will contact everyone already signed up with all the information they will require about new dates in due course.

 

Latest Government Updates on Covid-19

01/06/2020
  • From Monday (1 June) groups of six can meet outside, including in private gardens and outdoor spaces, provided people from separate households stay two metres apart. Find out more
  • People who have been told to shield must continue until 30 June 2020
  • The NHS Test and Trace service will begin emailing, phoning and texting people who have been in close contact with confirmed coronavirus cases. Those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms
  • Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from Monday (1 June). All other non-essential retail including shops are expected to be able to reopen from 15 June. Retailers must follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines
  • Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage because of COVID-19 can extend their mortgage payment holiday for a further three months, or start making reduced payments

Council encourages residents to book for COVID-19 test following Government change in eligibility

25/05/2020

Swindon Borough Council is encouraging members of the pubic who have COVID-19 symptoms to register for a test following the expansion of the Government’s National Coronavirus Testing Programme.

From Monday (18 May), everyone in the UK who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 became eligible to book a swab test to find out if they have the virus.

Where testing was previously reserved for key workers, health and social care staff and those over 65, it has now been expanded to include everybody over the age of five-years-old who is showing symptoms of the virus.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “This new expansion of the eligibility for coronavirus testing is welcome news and I would urge people in Swindon to apply for a test if they are showing symptoms.

“The Government’s ambition is to implement a national testing and tracing programme within a local delivery system, and we will work closely with our public sector partners to ensure that the local delivery system for Swindon is as good as it possibly can be.”

When people book a test online they will be given details about their closest testing site. There is also a postal test kit option.

The four UK Chief Medical Officers also announced on Monday (18 May) that anosmia – the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell or taste – has been added as a symptom of coronavirus.

This means that individuals need to self-isolate immediately – and will be eligible for a test – if they have a new continuous cough, or they have a high temperature, or they feel a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste.

All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.

People can register for a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, after checking their symptoms.

Testing spaces are limited, so the Council would encourage those that do book to attend.

Food Supply in Swindon

13/05/2020

The attached document details the help available in Swindon with food supply for various groups, including people who are self-isolating and those who cannot afford food.

Please note, this is not an exclusive list and we recognise that there may be local organisations that are offering support that are not mentioned.

View or download the document (pdf)

People in Swindon urged to reach out to care home residents

11/05/2020

People are being asked if they could spare a few minutes to put smiles on the faces of isolated residents as Swindon Borough Council launches a new initiative to help those who live in care homes.

As part of the Council’s #HereForSwindon support measures, people across the borough – children in particular – are being encouraged to write letters to care home residents while the lockdown measures are in place.

People who live in care homes are among the most vulnerable in society and the coronavirus pandemic has left them unable to see friends and family, or to take part in other social activities.

The initiative, called Care Mail, will see letters being sent that would contain messages of support and reassurance, which could be seen as a valuable lifeline for elderly people during this difficult period. The Council is encouraging people to make their messages as colourful and creative as possible.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “We thought this initiative would be a wonderful way of putting smiles on the faces of some of our most vulnerable residents.

“It will also help to connect people to each other and to give our younger residents the chance to think about how this pandemic has affected those on the opposite side of the age scale.

“Throughout this difficult period there have been some heart-warming displays of kindness and gratitude from members of the public, and we want to harness that goodwill for the benefit of those who are really struggling at the moment.”

The Council would welcome letters of support from people of all ages, though messages from children would be particularly well received by the residents.

The letters do not need to be addressed to an individual, and the person writing the message will not know those who would be receiving them – just that they will be received and enjoyed by someone who is feeling isolated at this time.

All messages should be addressed to Care Mail, Civic Offices, Swindon, SN1 2JH.

The Council’s #HereForSwindon campaign has seen a number of support measures put in place for residents and businesses during the pandemic.

To date, more than 700 food parcels have been delivered to vulnerable residents who are unable to do their own shopping, as well as many more food deliveries being organised by local charities and groups.

The Council continues to work closely with parish councils and the voluntary sector to ensure vulnerable residents are not forgotten about during these difficult times.

Pharmacy Opening Hours - May Bank Holiday

08/05/2020

Download a full list of pharmacy opening hours for the bank holiday today, and the rest of the weekend.

Download (Excel File)

Coronavirus — Information for PCoronavirus — Information for Parish & Town Councils from NALCarish & Town Councils from NALC

07/05/2020

NALC has updated its dedicated webpage on the coronavirus. This includes a letter to local (parish and town) councils from Robert Jenrick MP and information on getting testing and homeworking. See the updates below:

Letter to local councils

On 30 April, Robert Jenrick MP, secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, wrote a letter to local councils thanking them for their work supporting communities during this pandemic. Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, responded saying “I am pleased the local government secretary has acknowledged and praised the fantastic response from local (parish and town) councils across England in supporting their communities during this pandemic. I welcome the recognition of the financial challenges facing local government and the need for support. We will continue to discuss how best to address this with the government and the Local Government Association.”

Getting tested

The government guidance on getting tested for COVID-19 is available which includes information on who would be regarded as an essential worker and so be prioritised for testing.

Homeworking

As an employer, if the council provides homeworking expenses for your employees, you have certain tax, National Insurance and reporting obligations. The council as the employer is has the same health and safety responsibilities for staff working from home as they do for those in an office. The Health and Safety Executive has useful information that could inform your approach.

 

This information forms part of a NALC’s dedicated webpage on the coronavirus. It should not be used as a substitute for government advice, however, there are some practicalities specific to local (parish and town) councils where we hope this information will help you plan ahead and manage your risks. If you would like further advice and support on any of these topics for your local council then please contact your local county association. This is a fast-moving situation and we will be updating the webpage regularly.

Find Out More from NALC

Council extends parking season tickets to support business during lockdown period

06/05/2020

Parking season tickets which were due to expire during the coronavirus lockdown period will be automatically extended free of charge by Swindon Borough Council to support businesses and their employees.

The Council has introduced the extension for car parking season tickets and leases for parking spaces in the Town Centre, Old Town and the Croft Park and Ride in recognition of the fact many employees are currently working from home.

Season tickets and leases for car parking spaces that were valid on the date the coronavirus started (24 March) will be eligible for a 12-week extension from their expiry date without any additional charge.

Any season tickets with an expiry date within 12 weeks of 24 March (and which have not been renewed) the extension period will match the equivalent number of days left between 24 March and the expiry date.

This is subject to any updated government guidance that is forthcoming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The season ticket extension is the latest in a series of measures the Council has introduced to support businesses and employees.

Under the #HereForSwindon package of support, charity, volunteer groups and all NHS and social care staff can apply for parking permits to allow them to park for free in all of the Council’s surface level car parks and on-street pay and display parking bays.

The car parks included in the season ticket and lease extension include:

  • Dammas Lane, Old Town
  • Brunel North Car Park
  • Brunel West Car Park
  • Fleming Way Car Park
  • Whalebridge Car Park
  • Croft Park and Ride Car Park

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “We recognise there are people who are working from home in line with government advice and therefore are not using the season tickets to park their cars while they are at work.

“I am therefore pleased we have been able to introduce this new support measure as we recognise the financial pressure on local businesses and their employees during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“If you park in one of the car parks listed above and have a season ticket or lease a space please do get in touch so we can extend your ticket accordingly.”

Eligible employees of businesses can extend their season tickets or leases by contacting: parking@swindon.gov.uk  Any businesses that buy in bulk, or by lease, these will be extended automatically and there is no need to contact the Council’s Parking team.

Further details about the Council’s package of support can be found at: www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon

News and Information from Swindon Borough Council

04/05/2020

Help for our shielded residents
Over 5,000 residents of Swindon who have been advised to shield themselves to protect them from contracting coronavirus are being contacted again by the Council to inform them of the guidance around the delivery of food and medical supplies and to outline the support that is available for those experiencing loneliness as a result of isolation. This is in addition to the support the Council has been providing as a part of the #HereForSwindon campaign. To read the letter click here and to learn more about the support available, click here.

Message from Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to Parish and Town Councils
Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Local Government, has written an open letter to all local Parish and Town Councils to express his gratitude for your work during this pandemic. To read the letter, click here.

Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire’s open letter to the people of Wiltshire
HM Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton, has written an open letter of thanks to residents and all those working in the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Resilience Forum. To read the letter to the LRF, click here and for the letter to residents, click here.

Celebrating the 75 anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day safely
In line with the Government’s guidance on mass gatherings, national plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe on the 8 May have now been changed.
But there are still lots of ways that the local community can get involved and show your support, like marking the day on social media and using digital channels. For more ideas and information on ways to get involved, click here.

Announcement from the Royal British Legion about celebrating VE Day from home
View announcement.

Join in the Headway Swindon Fundraising Quiz
Every Thursday at 7pm, Headway Swindon are hosting a virtual quiz to help raise emergency funding for the charity during COVID-19. It is only £2 to play and there will be cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
To get started, head to: www.virtualquizevents.com to sign up in advance so you can log in and play on time for when the quiz starts:

  1. Log in just before 7pm on the day to start playing the quiz for 7pm and search for “A Headway Swindon Fundraising Quiz”
  2. Your £2 to play will go towards Headway Swindon

Please circulate to your friends and contacts to get more people involved.

Working from home guide available
If you are currently working from home, we have created a helpful guide which has information about  IT, mental health and wellbeing information and tips on how to make sure you get the most out of your day. You can read the guide here.

An update from Nick Read regarding the precautions the Post Office is taking during the pandemic
View update

A message from Phil Turvey (Anglia Research) regarding heir hunters offering ‘free’ services during COVID-19
View message

Help and Advice with Mental Health Issues and Self-Harm

30/04/2020

Nationally and locally there have been an increase in mental health issues and self-harm. MIND are available to help and provide advice. You can find their contact details here: www.mind.org.uk

Paying Your Water Bill During Covid-19

29/04/2020

Thames Water has guidance for their customers who may be struggling to pay their bills during the pandemic. Please visit:

www.thameswater.co.uk/my-account/billing-and-payment/help-paying-your-bill

Advice for approach to Ramadan during Covid-19

27/04/2020

The link below has advice about how to comply with Ramadan during Covid-19:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52363397

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from David Renard

23/04/2020

Dear resident,

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping well, as we continue to get through this challenging situation.

The Swindon community continues to pull together, particularly to support our most vulnerable residents who depend on emergency food supplies and medication being delivered to them by the Council, partners and our fantastic volunteers. I know from residents’ feedback how much this help is appreciated.

The whole country has been asked to maintain the ‘stay home’ and social distancing measures for at least the next three weeks. Thank you for continuing to play your part in denying coronavirus the opportunity to spread, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

The Council is #HereForSwindon – contact us on 01793 445500 if you need help.

Councillor David Renard

Leader of Swindon Borough Council

Council rolls out further support measures to improve personal wellbeing

23/04/2020

Swindon Borough Council is urging members of the public to look after their mental and physical health during the coronavirus outbreak after the Government extended the current lockdown period until May.

As a result, the Council has published important advice on its website that residents can follow to ensure they keep fit and healthy during this time.

Vital measures to support residents and businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have already been put in place by the Council, but the local authority is now encouraging residents to think of themselves now they are being asked to stay in their homes for longer.

Advice on how to keep active, including special tips on exercising at home offered by fitness experts at Sport England, are on the Council’s website, along with tips on how to get a good night’s sleep if people are feeling worried or anxious, as well as advice on how to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Mental health is a big focus of the support and there is a section on the website dedicated to staying connected with others through social media and digital technology. There are also links to charities such as MIND and The Mental Health Foundation.

Help is available for victims of domestic abuse and advice for people worried about falling victim to scammers and fraudsters, reports of which have recently been received by the Council’s Trading Standards team.

People can also find tips on how to manage their waste and recycling and there are how-to videos for council housing tenants who may wish to carry out small repairs to their properties.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “Now the lockdown has been extended, it is incredibly important that people continue to take good care of themselves and look after their mental and physical wellbeing.

“Isolation presents challenges to all of us and I would encourage people to take a look at our website to see if there any pieces of advice that would be helpful to them during this uncertain time. We must look after ourselves and each other.”

The website can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2VaJ5P0.

Give A Heart To Domestic Abuse Victims

23/04/2020

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Wiltshire Police and partners are backing a government campaign supporting victims of domestic abuse.

The “you are not alone” campaign aims to let anyone who may be at home with a violent or abusive partner during the lockdown know that help is still at hand through a number of agencies – the police, local authorities and national and local charities.

To show their support, a number of leaders have posted selfies having drawn a heart on their hand, accompanied with the hashtag you are not alone.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Domestic Abuse is never acceptable and my office and the police are constantly publicising the message that help is out there for victims; and despite these difficult times, that same help is still available.
“Through the police, partner agencies and services we commission through the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner like Swindon’s Women’s Aid and Splitz, there is a wealth of support for those who are in an abusive relationship.
“There is also help for the abuser through education and rehabilitation support, again offered by our partners.
“I am keen to support initiatives like this government one because the more this sort of thing is in the public eye the more people talk about it and the more we can save people from the harm of domestic abuse.”

Det Supt Ben Mant, Head of Wiltshire Police’s Public Protection Department, said: “Despite the current lockdown we want to remind people that we, the police, and our partners are here if they are suffering any form of abuse.
“If you are at home with an abusive partner please reach out for help; there are a number of ways you can do this by contacting the police through 101 or 999 if it’s an immediate emergency and via the number of partner agencies which can be found on our website.
“Our message is also aimed at those who abuse; despite the current situation, the police, if necessary, will arrest you and pursue a prosecution.  Domestic abuse is a crime and we will investigate any reports of this kind.
“Initiatives like the government’s are one of many that we are running to ensure that people know that they need not feel alone and helpless, especially at this difficult time.”

Read the full story here. 

Information for all volunteers

23/04/2020

If you are a volunteer, please take note of the safeguarding and other information from the Swindon Safeguarding Partnership.

See information for volunteers

Citizens Advice - How They Can Help

20/04/2020

An update from Citizens Advice on how they can help at this time:

  • Benefits issues, overpayments, change of circumstances
  • Benefits entitlement and help to claim UC for the first time
  • Help to claim PIP, Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance
  • Debt – although much has been put in place in relation to payment holidays it is imperative that those with existing debt still seek advice at this time to avoid this spiralling out of control
  • Housing issues – renting or mortgage, problems with landlords
  • Employment – understanding rights, job retention scheme and self employed income support

You can contact Citizens Advice on 03444994114 or email advice@swindon.cabnet.org.uk

Returned calls may come from a withheld number.

Help to Claim – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

20/04/2020

Dear customer,

We wrote to you last week to help you prepare to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are now writing to tell you how and when to access the system with some more information about what you will need to have ready before the system goes live.

We are also updating you on an important change to the scheme relating to employee eligibility:

  • you can claim for employees that were employed as of 19 March 2020 and were on your PAYE payroll on or before that date; this means that you will have made an RTI submission notifying us of payment of that employee on or before 19 March 2020
  • employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to us on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.

More information on this can be found on GOV.UK.

How to claim

As you prepare to make a claim, please note:

  • the online claim service will be launched on GOV.UK on 20‌‌ April 2020 – please do not try to access it before this date as it won’t be available
  • the only way to make a claim is online – the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK; this will include help with calculating the amount you can claim
  • you can make the claim yourself even if you usually use an agent
  • claims will be paid within 6 working days; you should not contact us unless it is absolutely necessary – any queries should be directed to your agent, representative or our webchat service
  • we cannot answer any queries from employees – they will need to raise these with you, as their employer, directly.

Information you will need before you make a claim

In addition to the information in our previous email, you will need to have the following before 20‌‌ April 2020:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for:
  1. Name.
  2. National Insurance number.
  3. Claim period and claim amount.
  4. PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee
  • if you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; we will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

If you want an agent to act for you

Please note:

  • agents authorised to act for you on PAYE matters can make the claim on your behalf using their ID and password
  • you will need to tell your agent which UK bank account you want the grant to be paid into, in order to ensure funds are paid as quickly as possible to you.

You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims.

Guidance on GOV.UK is being regularly updated so please review it frequently.

We continue to wish you all the best at this challenging time.

Yours sincerely

Jim Harra

Council and fire service urge residents to avoid bonfires

15/04/2020

Swindon Borough Council and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service are urging residents to avoid lighting bonfires during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With some residents taking to burning their waste, the authorities are calling for residents to keep hold of their waste and not burn it to protect people’s health and avoid placing unnecessary pressure on emergency services.

Bonfires can cause many issues for people, especially those who may have breathing difficulties, which is a common symptom of COVID-19.

Although bonfires are not illegal, it is an offence to burn materials including household waste, DIY waste, plastics and treated wood. Many of these materials can produce toxic smoke.

During this period the Council will be investigating reports of people lighting nuisance bonfires and will prosecute if necessary. This action, it is hoped, will deter people from lighting bonfires and help protect vulnerable residents who may be affected by bonfire smoke.

The fire service has also seen recent incidents of fire crews being called out to attend out-of-control bonfires, which have caused damage to properties. Attending these incidents wastes the time of key frontline workers during this critical period and potentially exposes them to coronavirus.

The Council is urging residents to temporarily store any excess waste until the government restrictions are lifted and they can either take it to the Household Waste Recycling Centre or use a licensed waste carrier.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “Please be considerate of the people who live nearby. By lighting bonfires we can unintentionally cause a lot of upset and distress, not just to our immediate neighbours who might be enjoying their gardens during this very difficult time, but across a wider area where we live.

“The smoke can also cause problems for anyone who has breathing difficulties, including anyone suffering from COVID-19. And many people need to keep a window open so they have a connection with the world outside their home.

“Our Environmental Health officers are proactively investigating reports of bonfires which may result in enforcement. So, please avoid burning anything during this period. Please keep hold of any waste until the tip reopens and you can take it there to be recycled. If you would like advice on how best to deal with additional waste or anyone who has concerns about bonfires, please visit the Council’s website or, if you don’t have internet access, please call us.”

Group Manager Glyn Moody, from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Wherever possible, we would prefer people not to have bonfires at this time. We do fully appreciate that it’s the ideal time to get out in the garden, but bonfires can get out of control very easily, which pulls our crews from other vital work in the community and puts firefighters at risk of exposing themselves to coronavirus.

“If you must have a bonfire, please site it well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures, and stay in attendance at all times with a garden hose to hand.”

Residents can find out more information about how to reduce their waste and more advice around bonfires by visiting the council website at swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus

Council extends free parking measures to benefit charities and volunteer groups

15/04/2020

Charities and volunteer groups are now able to apply for free parking permits as part of a package of support aimed at helping residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Swindon Borough Council’s #HereForSwindon support features measures ranging from providing council tax relief and emergency household supplies for residents facing hardship from coronavirus through to free childcare for key workers.

The Council previously announced that all NHS and social care staff would be able to apply for a parking permit, allowing them to park for free in all of the Council’s surface level car parks and on-street pay and display parking bays.

Now that offer has been extended to local charities and volunteer groups as of today (9 April).

The permit will initially be valid until the 18 June.

The on-street parking bays available for charities and volunteer groups are located in Wood Street and Market Square in Old Town; and Commercial Road, Harding Street and Sanford Street in the Town Centre. The scheme does not include barrier-controlled car parks.

All NHS and social care staff, together with charities and volunteer groups, can apply for a free permit in all of the Council’s surface level car parks, and on-street pay and display parking bays. To apply simply visit https://secure.mipermit.com/swindon

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “We are very fortunate to have some fantastic charities and volunteer groups in Swindon who are doing an incredible job supporting some of our residents who need help during this current coronavirus crisis.

“Like our colleagues in the NHS and social care they are pulling out all the stops for their community just when we need them most. I hope that by providing this free parking it goes some way to helping them during this extremely challenging time.”

Paul Moorby, CEO of Chipside, Swindon Borough Council’s parking software provider, said: “Frontline workers are doing vital work, with some risking their lives to help in the fight against coronavirus. It is our duty as innovators, business owners, and as citizens to support them in any way we can.

“Some NHS staff, care workers and volunteers have told us they are worried about receiving PCNs whilst at work. We want to take this worry away and make the process as easy as possible.”

For more information on the Council’s #HereForSwindon measures of support visit: www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon

Message from Asda regarding Volunteer Shopping cards

15/04/2020

Asda has launched a new cashless Volunteer Shopping card scheme to help vulnerable people who are self-isolating. Ideal for those who are self-isolating, the card provides a contactless, safe and secure way to allow family/friends/volunteers to shop on their behalf and means no bank or credit card details are exchanged with the volunteer and removes any risk of handling cash.

The card can be bought easily online and then emailed to the volunteer or printed out and left in a safe place for the volunteer to collect. The volunteer uses the card in-store (by simply scanning the barcode) and can return the shopping in a safe place for the recipient. Any change due is left on the card for future use and can be ‘topped-up’ if necessary.

More information about the card can be found here.

Advice on Walking Someone Else's Dog

13/04/2020

List of Useful Web Links

13/04/2020

This document, supplied by SBC, lists some websites that you may find useful.

View or download the document.

Self-Employed? Find Details of the Covid-19 Income Support Scheme

13/04/2020

Find out if you can claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Use this scheme if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus.

Visit the Government website

Doctors Surgery & Prescriptions Over Easter Weekend.

09/04/2020

The surgery is going to be open Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday. Patients can still ring in for call back from a doctor who will triage over the phone. Prescriptions can still be collected from Chiseldon.

Jephsons pharmacy is open Friday and Monday from 2-5pm. It is to try and ease pressure on 111 service but patients must not turn up to surgery they must ring.

 

Eligibility for support from Government for village and similar rural community buildings

09/04/2020

For information, please view or download the linked pdf file.

View or Download the Eligibility Document

Online Scammers Capitalise on Coronavirus Pandemic

09/04/2020

Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic via phishing emails, websites and text messages to scam members of the public out of large sums of money and sensitive information during these uncertain times across the nation.

Together with other law enforcement, Government and private sector partners, we are supporting a national campaign to raise awareness and help people become more vigilant against fraud, particularly sharing their financial and personal information.

Criminals are experts at impersonating people and organisations you trust, even the Police and Government. They spend hours researching for their cons, in order to make you believe what they are saying, and even a brief moment with your guard down is often enough for their scam to be successful.

We want to urge the public when online to:

Stop. It’s important to stop and think a moment before parting with any money or information.

Challenge. Challenge the origin of your email, text or website. Could it be fake? Check with the sender using another method of communication.

Protect. Protect yourself with added security measures where possible and report anything suspicious to your bank or Action Fraud.

Criminals are sending emails offering fake medical support or supplies, tricking people who may be vulnerable, frightened or increasingly isolated at home. These fraudsters try to lure people in with offers that look too good to be true or make appeals to support bogus charities.

Reports from the public have included online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other items via auction sites, which have never arrived. There have also been a number of cases where fake testing kits have been offered for sale.

Criminals are sometimes using Government branding to try to scam people, including false offers of financial support through unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages. The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.

Since the virus took a hold in the UK there have been more than 100 victims of Coronavirus related fraud, with losses of almost £1m recorded.

Wiltshire Police Detective Inspector, Gemma Vinton, said “Criminals are using the Coronavirus pandemic to their advantage and we have seen examples of them adapting their methods to play upon people’s fear and anxiety. So far we have seen limited incidents in the South West but we are warning everyone to be vigilant, not just the vulnerable or elderly.

“Huge increases in the number of people working remotely means they could be more vulnerable to computer service fraud where criminals will try and convince you to provide access to your computer or reveal logon details and passwords. People are using the internet for shopping more than usual, and relying on the telephone and social media to stay in touch and obtain information, yet these are common arenas in which fraudsters operate.

“We have seen a surge in phishing scams, and are expecting to see even more e-mails and calls claiming to be from government departments offering grants, tax rebates, or compensation, so we must all be cautious. Please also remember that neither your bank nor the police will ever ask you to transfer money to any so-called “safe” account.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Angus Macpherson, added “This situation is likely to continue, with criminals looking to exploit consequences of the pandemic further down the line, such as offering those with financial concerns false loans or even pension releases. They are callous individuals, looking to line their pockets at the expense of others at a particularly difficult time.

“It’s important to be aware of these scams and take the suggested precautions. As people become more isolated from communities and support networks they are increasingly vulnerable to become targets, and ultimately victims, of cyber scammers. We also ask you to please look out for vulnerable people you know who could be a target and talk to them of the possible dangers.”

If you have been a victim of a cyber crime, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or via their website at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk

Message Sent By
Sian Rivers (Police, Communications Officer, HQ)

People Urged To Stay At Home and Avoid Unnecessary Travel Over Easter

09/04/2020

“Wiltshire’s beauty spots aren’t going anywhere”

That’s the message from the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum (LRF), as people are urged to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Read more

Updated Supermarket Opening Times

09/04/2020

Co-Op – Opening times for key workers and the vulnerable: For NHS workers, vulnerable customers and people that care for them, Co-op stores have dedicated from 8am to 9am on Saturdays and 10am to 11am on Sundays to accommodate them.

AldiOpening times for key workers and the vulnerable: Aldi has announced it will be introducing a dedicating browsing time for emergency workers (NHS, police and fire service) 30 minutes before the regular opening times. You will need a relevant ID in order to enter the store.

IcelandOpening times for key workers and the vulnerable: The last hour of trade in Iceland stores will be dedicated to NHS customers, with photo ID as proof. In its food warehouse stores, NHS workers will be allowed early access for the first-hour trading at 7am. Again, this varies by stores, so make sure to check your nearest store online.

SainsburysOpening times for key workers and the vulnerable: For the elderly, disabled and carers, Sainsbury’s is dedicating 8am to 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for shopping. NHS and social care workers will be able to shop in supermarkets for 30 minutes before they open, from 7:30am to 8am, from Monday to Saturday.

TescoOpening times for key workers and the vulnerable: For vulnerable and elderly customers, Tesco stores will be prioritised between 9am and 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

LidlOpening times for key workers and the vulnerable: While there are no priority shopping times for key workers and the vulnerable, Lidl has partnered with Royal Voluntary Service to donate fruit and vegetable bags to NHS workers.

Morrisons – Opening times for key workers and the vulnerable: It has introduced an NHS hour at all of its stores Monday to Saturday from 7am to 8pm.

COVID-19 – SSPR update for businesses with fewer than 250 employees

08/04/2020

Dear customer,

At Budget 2020 the Chancellor announced details about a new coronavirus (COVID-19) Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

This scheme will allow small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees.

Today HMRC has published new online guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep.

HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

Details about when the new Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme can be accessed and when employers can make a claim will be announced as soon as possible.

We will continue to update you and the new GOV‌.UK guidance when these details are available.

HM Revenue and Customs

To find out all of the ways you can contact us and our opening times go to

GOV.UK – contact HMRC

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme update

08/04/2020

Dear customer,

On 27 March I emailed you to advise that the latest guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had been published at the links below, and we committed to keep you regularly updated.

I can now confirm that the employer guidance and guidance for employees have been further updated in line with some of the main queries we have received from stakeholders. Whilst all the guidance has been refreshed, the main areas I would draw your attention to are:

  • the more detailed information on scheme eligibility
  • further information on how to calculate a claim
  • clarification of what constitutes wages.

I would encourage you to please review the links above if you would like more information about the scheme.

We will continue to keep you informed to ensure that you have access to the assistance you need.

HM Revenue and Customs

To find out all of the ways you can contact us and our opening times go to

GOV.UK – contact HMRC

Council is #HereForSwindon as vital support measures are taken up

08/04/2020

More than 1,000 requests have been received by Swindon Borough Council for business support, council tax relief and volunteering opportunities as the Council’s coronavirus support measures continue to be rolled out.

The 11 measures, launched last week with the #HereForSwindon campaign, range from providing essential food and medical supplies to vulnerable residents, to ensuring millions of pounds of vital government funding reaches eligible businesses in Swindon.

Updates on the Council’s support measures are as follows:

Support for businesses

  • 800 requests received by the Council from local businesses seeking financial help during the pandemic
  • More than £7m has already been applied for and £3.25m has been processed
  • More than 1,200 letters sent to businesses in Swindon alerting them to the support scheme – any businesses that haven’t received a letter can check swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus for details

Council tax relief for vulnerable residents

  • 360 applications received, which compares to around 90 in a normal week
  • Officers are processing these claims and revised council tax bills will be issued to show the support awarded

Any resident who is struggling to pay their council tax due to COVID-19 should contact the Council urgently on 0345 302 2316. Officers will be able to help people who may now be eligible for Council Tax Support or be able to discuss the rescheduling of payments.

Compassionate Swindon

  • Over 500 Swindon residents have signed-up for volunteering opportunities, including speaking to someone over the phone to offer some companionship or collecting shopping for those who are staying at home

Emergency household supplies for residents

  • More than 388 calls into the Live Well Hub this week for emergency food supplies, prescription collections and advice
  • Made more than 140 calls to check on the welfare of vulnerable residents who are shielding in their homes
  • Packed 55 food boxes and delivered them to those in need
  • Delivered 117 emergency bags to those with a urgent or critical needs
  • Brokered deals with local supermarkets to provide free supplies for those most in need (we even collected 13, 25kg bags of potatoes from a local chip shop)

We are continuing to work with the army and local food suppliers to make sure those ‘shielding’ and in need of food are getting deliveries and we have set up a separate food delivery service to get food to people self-isolating who don’t have support.

Support for taxi drivers

  • Helped over 60 taxi drivers to extend their licences

 Libraries

  • In the past two weeks over 60 residents have applied online for library membership to access eBooks, audio books and eMagazines
  • For the first time, Swindon Libraries can offer library members free use of Find My Past from residents’ homes. Residents should email their name and library card number to localstudies@swindon.gov.uk to find out more and begin researching your family tree. Libraries staff have had up to 120 requests already

In further changes to how day-to-day services are delivered, the Council has allowed all NHS and social care staff to apply for a free permit in all the Council’s surface-level car parks, and on-street pay and display parking bays.

For the crews collecting waste and recycling, measures have been developed to enable staff to follow proper social distancing rules. We are also asking members of the public to help keep our crews safe. For example, we are asking people who have, or are suspected of having, COVID-19 to place waste tissues, cloths or wipes in a plastic bag which should be tied up when full. This bag should then be placed in a second bin bag, which should also be tied when full.

Our crews already wear full protective clothing and new measures are being explored to see how we can go even further.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “I am delighted by how quickly the Council has been able to get these vital support measures in place for residents and businesses who are struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Council officers are working round the clock to ensure support is in place for people who need it and that the process is as smooth and hassle-free as possible, and I have already received positive feedback from local businesses.

“I am extremely grateful to everyone who is continuing to work to help people. This includes our NHS staff, police, carers and everyone connected with the supply of food, energy and other vital services.”

Residents and businesses can find out more information about the package of support measures by visiting www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon.

Council to Fund Continued Childcare for Key Workers Over Easter Holidays

08/04/2020

Key workers fighting coronavirus on the frontline will be offered free childcare during the Easter holidays and May half-term.

Swindon Borough Council is providing funding for 24 hours of childcare per week (6 hours a day or as flexibly as required) to help key workers carry out their essential work during the ongoing crisis.

The Council is providing funding to childcare providers to enable them to stay open when they will be needed most, while at the same time keeping childcare staff in employment.

Information will be sent to all parents with children still in school to inform them if their school will be continuing to provide childcare over the Easter holidays. If the school is not providing childcare the parent can speak to the Council’s Education and Childcare team to make alternative care arrangements.

Parents who are classed as key workers and who have not been able to secure childcare to enable them to carry out their critical roles should get in touch with the Council’s Education and Childcare teams as soon as possible.

As long as one parent is classed as a key worker under the Government definition the family qualify for childcare through local schools and other local providers. However, children should be cared for at home wherever possible to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Many schools and childcare providers have stayed open during this period to provide childcare meaning not only are children of key workers cared for but they are kept in small groups to prevent spread of the virus.

The Council has been working with a number of these providers over the last week to ensure there is provision overnight, at weekends, during the school holidays and bank holidays.

One nursery, the Nursery of Narnia in Stratton, has offered to operate 24/7, providing childcare for key workers who may work night shifts.

This comes after the Government announced that free school meal vouchers will be made available directly through schools. Headteachers have been approached directly by the Government and will be reaching out to parents of children eligible for free school meals to distribute the vouchers.

Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Education, said: “On behalf of everyone in Swindon I would like to express our heartfelt thanks for the vital work that keyworkers are carrying out to save lives in these very difficult times. We are grateful to our schools and childcare providers who continue to step up to provide support for Swindon’s key workers.

“We have been able to keep most of our school and childcare providers open in Swindon and are carefully following government guidance to keep everyone safe.

“If there are any key workers who are still looking for suitable, safe childcare provision please get in touch with our Education and Childcare teams, who will be only too happy to help.”

Any parents who are not in a position to be able to safely leave their children at home should email the Council at: earlyeducation@swindon.gov.uk

Support and advice available for Swindon businesses

08/04/2020

More than 800 businesses have applied to Swindon Borough Council for the Government grants announced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting businesses in the town is one of the 11 measures which make up the Council’s #HereForSwindon package to help residents and businesses through the public health emergency.

The Council has issued more than £3.25m in grants so far and continues to work through hundreds of applications for funding for small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries.

Support is also available for businesses in Swindon, which are not eligible for these government grants.

Swindon and Wiltshire’s Growth Hub, run by Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), has launched a website with up-to-date information and advice for businesses.

Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Economy and Skills, said: “We are doing all we can to support businesses through this challenging and unsettling time. The Council has been working extremely hard since these grants were announced to process them as quickly as possible.

“We recognise there are other businesses in Swindon which will not be eligible for these government grants, which is why we have worked closely with our colleagues at SWLEP to offer helpful information and advice to support those who need it.”

Paddy Bradley, Director of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, stated: “Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership continues to do everything possible to protect our  economy from the worst effects of the coronavirus outbreak. This extraordinary package of funding from the Government acts as a safety net for many local small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is vital we stand with our local businesses and those that rely on them for work and income.”

The Growth Hub offers help and advice around how businesses can protect their employees through this public health emergency, the local support available to businesses in Swindon, and advice on how to access government funding.

Information from Swindon and Wiltshire’s Growth Hub can be found at: growthhub.swlep.co.uk or by calling their helpline on 01793 698005.

Adjusting to Life Under Lockdown

06/04/2020

From ‘Total Guide to Swindon’:

We hope you are keeping safe and enjoying the Spring weather where you are able to! We don’t know when everything is going to go back to ‘normal’, but with the outbreak of the Coronavirus dictating our lives at the moment, we’ve created a range of content with ways to adjust yourself to the new norm and keep you entertained and informed during lock-down…

Read our Total Guide to Adjusting to Life Under Lock-Down

TOP TEN ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS DURING QUARANTINE

If the thought of keeping your kids entertained for weeks on end sends you into a panic spiral, rest assured you’re not alone. We’ve put together 10 ways to keep your kids amused during lock-down.

Keep the kids entertained at home

WIN THE ULTIMATE EASTER SET

We know that it’s been a difficult few weeks for everyone and that this April our Easters are going to be incredibly unusual. However, with our Easter giveaway, one lucky winner can get their hands on the ultimate Easter set to help make this Easter that little bit better!

Enter our competition

FOOD DELIVERIES IN SWINDON

With the recent government instruction issuing the closure of restaurants, many businesses in Swindon have turned to offering delivery services so the community can still enjoy their delicious food safely. We’ve also created a handy guide for essential food supplies here.

Get a delicious delivery

HOME EDUCATION GUIDE

With all schools, colleges and universities closed, we know that all the parents out there are looking for ways to help make sure their kids are still getting the education they need. We’re here to help by giving you all the best homeschooling websites and much more.

Get education ready

ONLINE COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROUPS

The pandemic is a worrying time for all of us. But you don’t have to worry about it all on your own. Communities up and down the country have grouped together to create online support groups on social media to help each other get through this difficult time.

Discover the groups here

We Must Be Patient and Allow the Police To Navigate the New Legislation

02/04/2020


Blog post by Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson:

This week there has been a sharp focus on policing and the different interpretations of how to enforce the Government guidance and the new legislation.

Whilst some feel that the police are being ‘heavy-handed’, others want the police to do more and, unfortunately, our hard-working officers, staff and volunteers find themselves in the middle.

My view on this, which is echoed by the Chief Constable, is that we, in Wiltshire, want to use enforcement action as a last resort.

Our officers will engage with our communities, explain the importance of this situation and encourage them to heed the guidelines as set out by Government – if enforcement is needed however, it will of course be utilised.

This is a very fast moving issue and these are unchartered waters for policing, legislation, public health and, ultimately, us all.

The Prime Minister has been clear in the guidance he laid out – stay home and save lives.
I would encourage you all to think about your actions and the personal responsibility we must now all take.

We will all need to change our habits as a result of Coronavirus and many have had to make changes to their daily routine but ultimately, it is a small price to pay to save lives, protect our NHS and support our keyworkers.

We must also remember that it is not the police who write laws and pass legislation – their responsibility is to engage, encourage, explain and only when necessary should they enforce.

Ordinarily, legislation goes through years of checking and testing to ensure that it is practical and works in society. Whereas this legislation was created and passed in a few weeks to help slow and reduce the spread of the virus.

We need to be patient and allow the National Police Chief’s Council, and our local forces, time and space to understand what this means for them and our communities.

In a time of great uncertainty, I think we all need to take the opportunity to be kinder to one another and less judgemental. It is reassuring to see just how much different communities are pulling together to help those in self-isolation or vulnerable and unable to get groceries and medicine. The community effort in supporting others has genuinely been incredible across our county and further afield.

I am proud of the way in which the police in Wiltshire are operating during this emergency, alongside their partners, and the way in which they continue to work together during what is a national public health emergency for all.

We all have a role to play in keeping people safe and protecting the NHS, and only by working together will we be successful.

101 Non-Emergency Police Calls Free from Today

01/04/2020

Yesterday the Home Office announced that the charge for calling the police non-emergency number is to be scrapped from today.

The Home Office will spend £7 million a year to meet the connection costs. At present, the telephony provider charges 101 callers a 15p connection fee.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon has welcomed the news: “Reporting crime, passing on intelligence or ringing for an update should not cost callers 15p, and this is good news for victims and the people of Wiltshire.

“The police are currently working in unchartered territory, having to engage with the public in different ways and it’s important to me that the police are as accessible as possible and today’s announcement is a really positive step forward.

“That said, I would continue to encourage people to only call 101 when absolutely necessary, to report a crime/ incident, request an update or make a complaint. The Force are currently facing a high level of calls regarding the current Government restrictions in place.

“You should always call 999 if a crime is in progress or in an emergency.

“Many crimes can also now be reported on the Force’s website and there is also the option to raise concerns that people are not adhering to the restrictions set out by the Government online.”

Over the past two years, significant investment has gone into improving the performance of the Force’s crime and communications centre after concerns about its performance.

The time is takes to answer a 101 call has also improved from just over 5 minutes in 2017 to 1.20minutes at the end of 2019.

Since then, abandonment rates have also dropped 18% from 22.2% in 2017 to 4.3% for 2019.

The vast majority of people will be able to use the service free of charge from tomorrow. However, from 1 April to 1 July there remains a chance that users of small operators will be charged for using the 101 service. The Home Office will be urging those providers to refund their customers.

Council website offers advice for businesses requiring further support

31/03/2020

Businesses in Swindon still looking for advice and support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should visit the Council’s website where updated guidance is now available.

This support for businesses is part of a package of measures, known as #HereForSwindon, launched by the Council last week.

In response to the public health emergency, the Government announced support for businesses including grants for those in retail, leisure and hospitality industries as well as business rate holidays for these industries and nurseries.

The Council has identified businesses in Swindon which are eligible for these government grants and is now working to make sure these businesses receive the money as quickly as possible.

Letters have been sent to these businesses and should have been received on either Saturday (28 March) or Monday (30 March). Recipients of these letters should now follow the instructions given to access the money.

Any business which believes it is eligible for the government grant but is yet to receive a letter from the Council should visit swindon.gov.uk/covidbusiness to find out how to get in touch with the Council.
Businesses are urged to check the criteria, which can also be found on the Council’s website, before getting in touch to make sure they are eligible.

Further information about support available to businesses and residents in Swindon can be found at swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus

Food supplies to be delivered with military precision

31/03/2020

Military planners are helping Swindon Borough Council respond to the coronavirus crisis as part of the local authority’s #HereForSwindon campaign.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Paul Townsend and Staff Sergeant Alan Gray have been working with the Council’s Community Health and Wellbeing team to set up a new Community Resilience Hub, which will support vulnerable members of the community.

WO1 Townsend and SSgt Gray have been scenario planning with council officers to ensure the successful delivery of emergency food parcels to those that need them.

Over the weekend the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) delivered food supplies to the Council’s Civic campus and these will now be packaged up and sent to members of the community who have been forced to self-isolate following advice from the Government.

Over the weekend, 16 council officers from various teams volunteered to call 140 vulnerable Swindon residents who the Government has asked to shield for 12 weeks.

The Council will also put food parcels together for other residents who may be isolated in their homes with no support network to fall back on. This will include offering food boxes for £30, which will be delivered free of charge by volunteers. Additional bags of fruit and vegetables will also be available.

The logistics of the delivery service are still being finalised, but the Council is hoping to offer a same day delivery service if ordered before 1pm. Any orders placed after 1pm will be delivered the following day.

The food boxes are part of a series of local measures designed to help residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

#HereForSwindon features 11 measures ranging from providing council tax relief and emergency household supplies for residents facing hardship from coronavirus through to its volunteering scheme, Compassionate Swindon, which will help people who have no one to turn to.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “We all have a part to play in looking after the most vulnerable people in Swindon. I am so proud of the council officers, the scores of volunteers who have come forward and the members of other agencies who have all pulled together in the last few days.

“The fact we have had to call on the help of the military to help us with the logistics around the food supplies tells you all you need to know about the scale of the operation. I would like to thank both Warrant Officer Townsend and Staff Sergeant Gray for their help at this difficult time.

“I must also say a special thank you to the various supermarkets for their very generous food donations they have made over the past week. It is gestures such as these which will go a long way to seeing us through this public health emergency.”

To find out more information about the Council’s food box scheme call 01793 445500 or email: livewell@swindon.gov.uk

For further information about #HereForSwindon visit: www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon

Action Fraud Have Received Reports of Covid19 Related Scams

28/03/2020

Please note, this is the second in a series of messages we are sending over the next few days, all relating to the current situation. This email does contain links, please click here for guidance about whether you can trust links in emails.

Action Fraud have received reports of #COVID19 related scams. The majority relate to the online sale of protective items such as facemasks and other items in short supply due to the outbreak, that don’t exist..

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-related-fraud-reports

What scams are we seeing?

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products, which have never arrived. Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud

Protection advice

Detailed counter fraud advice is available online, including from Scamsmart, ActionFraud, CIFAS, TakeFive, Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and the National Cyber Security Centre.

Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

To report offers of financial assistance from HMRC contact phishing@hmrc.gov.uk.

How are we doing?

We hope this information is useful, please use the Rate button below to provide feedback about the value of this service. If this and subsequent messages are useful, please use the Share button below to share it to your own email lists and social media channels.

If you would prefer not to receive these messages from Action Fraud, please click the red Settings button below and un-tick Action Fraud.

Key workers urged to contact Council for priority childcare

28/03/2020

NHS staff and critical workers are being asked to contact Swindon Borough Council if they are struggling to find suitable childcare provision during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the Department for Education issued guidance to parents asking them to keep their children at home, wherever possible, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

Schools, and all childcare providers were asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children, including those that are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Parents who are classed as key workers and who have not been able to secure childcare to enable them to carry out their critical roles should get in touch with the Council’s Education and Childcare teams as soon as possible.

There are more than 350 early years and childcare providers registered in Swindon ranging from childminders, preschools, nurseries, schools and holiday clubs. All are regulated by Ofsted to ensure the highest level of care will be provided for children aged from 0-14 years old.

The Council has been working with a number of these providers over the last week to ensure there is provision overnight and at weekends, including bank holidays.

Many providers have changed their registered opening hours to ensure Swindon’s critical workforce can continue to do their vital roles, while ensuring children are safe.

Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Education, said: “I would like to thank all our schools and childcare providers for their support in caring for the children of our key workers over the past week. It is very much appreciated and is allowing frontline staff in professions such as the NHS and social care, to continue to provide incredible support for those that need it.

“If there are any key workers who are still looking for suitable, safe childcare provision please get in touch with our Education and Childcare teams, who will be only too happy to help.”

Any parents who are not in a position to be able to safely leave their children at home should email the Council at: earlyeducation@swindon.gov.uk

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme update

27/03/2020

Dear customer,

The government is committed to doing whatever it takes to support businesses and individuals through the Coronavirus pandemic. On 20 March as part of these efforts the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This funding will be open to all employers with a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, including charities. Employers can apply for grants of 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage, provided they keep the worker employed. The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020, if applicable.

HMRC have been working night and day to develop this scheme, and we can now confirm that we have been able to publish further details of the scheme on GOV.UK. We are aiming to have the scheme up and running by the end of April 2020. More detailed guidance will be published in due course and please be assured we will advise you when the scheme is open.

Guidance for employers is available on GOV.UK. You may also find the guidance for employees helpful.
We recommend you view the guidance which will be updated as the scheme is further developed, and in line with any further government announcements.

In the meantime, we will continue to keep you informed to ensure that you have access to the assistance you need.

Yours sincerely

Jim Harra
First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive – HMRC

Council makes support available to businesses in Swindon

27/03/2020

Millions of pounds in lifeline funding will be given to small and medium-sized businesses by Swindon Borough Council as part of the large package of support available to residents in Swindon.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has announced that grants are available for small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries.

There will also be business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses alongside nurseries.
The Council has identified businesses in Swindon which fit the Government’s criteria and is now working to process these grants and make the money available to businesses as soon as possible.

Those eligible will receive a letter from the Council on either Saturday 28 March or Monday 30 March providing details of how to access the funding.

Any businesses which believe they fit the criteria and do not receive a letter from the Council by Tuesday 31 March should visit the Council’s website on that day for advice.

The full eligibility criteria and further information will be available via swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus from Monday (30 March) and businesses should check they qualify for funding before contacting the Council.

All applications will be screened for eligibility and any business caught falsifying an application may face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to clawback.

Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We know this is an unsettling and worrying time for many businesses in Swindon so we are working hard to provide as much support as we can. I’m really pleased that the Government have worked so hard to be able to provide this support.

“We have been able to very quickly identify all those businesses currently eligible for the Government grant available through the Council and we will be distributing funding as fast as possible.

“All businesses should check they have received our letter while also checking the criteria on our website to make sure they can claim the grant before contacting us.

“For those who can’t claim these grants, information on the other Government support is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.”

Deferral of VAT payments as a result of COVID-19

27/03/2020

Dear customer,

The Chancellor announced a VAT payments deferral on 20 March to support businesses with cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means that all businesses with a UK VAT registration have the option to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June.

You therefore have until 31 March 2021 to pay any VAT deferred as a result of this announcement.
You do not need to inform HMRC if you wish to defer payment. You can opt in to the deferral simply by not making VAT payments due in this period. If you pay by Direct Debit you should cancel this with your bank. You should do so in sufficient time so that HMRC does not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of their VAT return.

Should you wish, you can continue to make payments as normal during the deferral period. HMRC will also continue to pay repayment claims as normal. You must continue to submit VAT returns as normal.
For more information please go to GOV.UK.

Yours sincerely

Jim Harra
First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive – HMRC

NHS and social care staff to receive free parking during coronavirus crisis

27/03/2020

Free parking will be available to all NHS and social care staff over the next few months, Swindon Borough Council has announced.

The Council has joined other local authorities across the country in waiving parking charges as part of a joint campaign with the Local Government Association.

It also comes after the Council outlined a series of local measures designed to help residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

#HereForSwindon features 11 measures ranging from providing council tax relief and emergency household supplies for residents facing hardship from coronavirus through to a new volunteering scheme to help people who have no one to turn to.

All NHS and social care staff will be able to apply for a free permit, which will let them park for free in all of the Council’s surface level car parks and on-street pay and display parking bays.

The permit will initially be valid until the 18 June.

The on-street parking bays available for staff to use are located in Wood Street and Market Square in Old Town; and Commercial Road, Harding Street and Sanford Street in the Town Centre. The scheme does not include barrier-controlled car parks.

NHS and social care staff can apply for their free permit by emailing PBusinessSupport@swindon.gov.uk and providing their name, email address, and a copy of either their staff ID, or paperwork confirming they work, or are volunteering for, the NHS or Social Care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “Our NHS and social care staff are doing an absolutely fantastic job for us locally here in Swindon and across the country in caring for those most affected by this pandemic.

“They are all heroes and I know each and every one of us appreciates the work they do, which was reflected in the show of support last night during the Clap for Carers tribute.

“I am pleased we are introducing the free parking for them at this time, it is the least we can do as a Council.”

Further information on the Council’s #HereForSwindon campaign can be found at: www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon

Residents can get the latest updates on council services during the pandemic by visiting: www.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus

Why are you here today?

27/03/2020

The government restrictions currently in place DO NOT permit you to use your vehicle to travel to this location to exercise.

Each and every one of us has been instructed to avoid ALL UNNECESSARY TRAVEL.

You are entitled to exercise once daily. This should be walking, running or cycling etc from your home address. You should not be driving to a location away from your home to carry this out.

Please refrain from unnecessary travel until the restrictions placed upon us all to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic have been rescinded.

We appreciate your co-operation and your understanding at this time.

A message from the SBC Waste & Recycling centre

26/03/2020

Update on the waste and recycling centre – the centre is now closed to the public.

All Wiltshire Police Enquiry Offices Have Temporarily Closed Following New Social Distancing Advice

26/03/2020

All Wiltshire Police enquiry offices have been temporarily closed in a move to protect both the public and our officers and staff.

The decision has been made following the latest Government advice on social distancing and staying at home as part of the ongoing fight against coronavirus.

However, we want people to be reassured that they will still be able to contact us through a variety of means, including the 999 emergency and 101 non-emergency numbers, our website, and using the yellow phones positioned outside our enquiry offices.

The temporary closure will also include the police desks within the front counter services at our shared premises at Monkton Park, in Chippenham, and Bourne Hill, in Salisbury.

At the moment, the Wiltshire Council enquiry offices at these sites will remain open as a necessary contact point for vulnerable people.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Swindon and Wiltshire Angus Macpherson said: “The Government advice is clear – all non-essential social interactions need to stop, and one way that we as a police force can help with that, is by introducing these temporary closures.

“Footfall at our enquiry offices has fallen dramatically in recent days, and there are a number of other, more appropriate ways that people can contact the police at this time.

“Calling us or visiting the Wiltshire Police website is safer for everyone. Not only will it keep the public safe, but it will allow us to redeploy those staff who usually work on a front counter, to a more critical role.”

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “I want to reassure people that this is a temporary measure and I hope people will see that we have made this decision for very practical and safety-conscious reasons.

“This will not impact our visibility in your communities. Our police stations are still running as normal, and you will continue to see our Community Policing Teams out and about on patrol and responding to 999 and 101 calls.

“I want to thank you all for you continued support for Wiltshire Police. These are unprecedented times, and I know there will be challenges and uncertainty ahead, but we are committed to providing the very best service to the communities of Swindon and Wiltshire.”

Anyone who has a pre-arranged, essential appointment at a police station can attend as normal, but use the yellow phone outside to alert an officer or member of staff.

Council announces package of measures to support community during COVID-19 crisis

26/03/2020

The Leader of Swindon Borough Council has today (26 March) outlined a series of local measures designed to help residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor David Renard has announced a package of support to benefit both local residents and businesses most affected by the current public health emergency.

The 11 measures range from providing council tax and emergency financial help for residents facing hardship from coronavirus through to relaxing parking restrictions.

Millions of pounds in lifeline funding will also be given to small and medium-sized businesses by the Council as part of the large package of support announced by the Government last week.

Top of the list to help households is the Government’s £500m hardship fund, which will provide council tax relief to vulnerable households as it is anticipated there will be an increase in both claims and payments to those already being supported.

Swindon has been allocated £1.3m and the Council can use this funding to help people who are not already claiming support, and need to do so, to make a claim online.

The support offered by the Council also includes a new volunteering scheme. Compassionate Swindon is a partnership with Voluntary Action Swindon and the Volunteer Centre, which will pair volunteers with those people who have no one to help them. This could involve speaking to someone over the phone to offer some companionship or collecting shopping for those who are staying at home.

Key workers and volunteers helping vulnerable members of the community will be allowed to park in areas with parking restrictions and car parks will be opened up for use by residents with parking permits.

Businesses who are unable to pay their rent will not be evicted and some not-for-profit and commercial operators will be able to take a three-month rent holiday following new guidance from the Government. Council housing tenants affected by coronavirus who have fallen behind on their rent will also be given extra support.

All library books will be automatically renewed until the Borough’s libraries are reopened and any memberships due to expire before the end of June will be automatically renewed for six months.

There is help too for Hackney and Private Hire drivers with the Council set to extend drivers’ licences for six months with no charge.

Couples who have had to postpone their weddings at the Register Office will be given first refusal on booking their rearranged wedding. They will also have their charges waived for re-announcing their Notice of Marriage.

The package of measures includes support already announced by the Council over the past few days including business rate relief for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality industry, as well as extending the use of free bus passes for older and disabled people.

Announcing the package of support, Cllr Renard said: “The coronavirus crisis is affecting all our lives and we will face tremendous challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

“We are working closely with our health partners, business groups and the voluntary sector to minimise the impact on our local communities in what is a fast-moving situation which is changing on a daily basis.

“I want to reassure those who live and work in Swindon that we are here to help you. Whether you own a business that has been hit hard by the events of the last few weeks or a resident who has no support network around you, help is at hand.

“The package of measures we are putting in place today is designed to ease some of the pressure and worry that some people may be facing in these uncertain times. We’ll be adapting these local measures in line with further national guidance and support announced by the Government.

“We know they will not solve everyone’s problems, but it is important that as a Council we do as much as we can to help the residents we are here to serve.

“We have an amazing community here in Swindon and we all need to support each other.”

Residents and businesses can find out more information about the package of support measures by visiting www.swindon.gov.uk/HereForSwindon

Council to prioritise waste collections over coming months

26/03/2020

Swindon Borough Council will prioritise certain waste collections over the coming months amid the continuing coronavirus crisis.

Black wheelie bin, blue bag, food waste and clinical waste services have been classed as a priority by the Council due to the perishable nature of the waste.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many council services and the waste collection team has faced staff shortages due to a combination of the ongoing self-isolation measures and illness. The nature of the work means that staff have to be trained and have a good level of fitness, making staff redeployment from other areas of the Council more difficult.

Measures are being put in place to protect the waste crews by ensuring they follow proper social distancing rules which will have an impact on how much waste can be collected. As a result, crews will be reduced to just a driver and a loader and, if additional manpower is needed, other crew members will be taken via a second vehicle to help complete the round.

In order to keep the priority collections running, the Council may need to suspend other services to divert staff to the priority collections. As of today, garden waste collections will be suspended until Wednesday, 8 April 2020 to allow crews to assist with priority collections.

Subscribers to the paid-for garden waste service are being informed by email or letter with the Council looking at either extending the current subscription year or reducing the cost of next year’s subscription.

Residents can help the Council during these unprecedented times by changing the way they handle waste to help keep vital collection services running. This includes:

  • Avoiding DIY or garden work that will produce large amounts of waste that can’t be disposed of
  • Reducing food waste, tips for this can be found at lovefoodhatewaste.com
  • Reducing waste in general
  • Avoiding creating bonfires

Members of the public are also being asked for their help in keeping crews safe. Anyone who has, or is suspected of having COVID-19, should place waste tissues, clothes or wipes in a plastic bag which should be tied up when full. This bag should then be placed in a second bin bag, which should also be tied when full and presented for collection only after 72 hours have passed.

The Council will be continuing fly tipping investigations over the current period to discourage anyone from fly-tipping waste they cannot dispose of. Fly-tipping is illegal, especially during this time when collections may be limited. Any residents who witness fly-tipping are asked to take photos and report it to the Council via the website.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “The crews are working as quickly and efficiently as possible to deliver your waste and recycling collections.

“We are constantly reviewing the service in these uncertain times to ensure we are prioritising perishable waste collections, however like many other front-line services we are contending with ongoing self-isolation measures and staff sickness.

“We thank our residents for their patience during this time and encourage our residents to keep up to date with any changes to our services on the Council’s website.”

Changes to services may happen at short notice over the coming weeks so the Council is urging all residents to keep up to date with services through the Council’s dedicated service status update page swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus and through its Facebook page.

Open Letter from Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner

26/03/2020

Please find attached an open letter to the communities of Wiltshire and Swindon from Chief Constable Kier Pritchard and Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson.

https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/media/4819/Open-Letter-260320/pdf/Open_Letter.docx.pdf?m=637208212523000000

We are #HereForSwindon

26/03/2020


As coronavirus continues to affect us, this remains a difficult time for everyone. Today we’re announcing a package of measures which we hope will ease the pressure and worry some of you may be facing. We are #HereForSwindon

Support for residents

1. Compassionate Swindon: volunteer support for those who most need it

2. Council tax relief to vulnerable people and households to help those affected most by coronavirus

3. Providing emergency financial assistance for residents most affected by coronavirus

4. Support for Council housing tenants

5. More parking options for key workers and residents making essential journeys

6. Helping residents access library services online

7. Extending bus pass use for older and disabled people

8. Priority re-booking and waiving fees for marriages postponed due to coronavirus

Support for businesses

9. Supplying vital financial support to businesses

10. Supporting not-for-profit and commercial tenants in council properties

11. Support for Swindon’s taxi drivers

You can find out more about how we are #HereForSwindon here

Community hot meals

25/03/2020

The Community Hot Meals service is available for lunchtime deliveries to your home on every day of the year and has been specifically created for older people living in Wiltshire and Swindon.

Our meal delivery service has been specifically created for older people living in Wiltshire and Swindon.

We will bring you a hot, freshly prepared midday meal and dessert for just £6.50, delivered direct to your door by our own experienced and dedicated team from Age UK Wiltshire.

The meals are produced in Wiltshire by a team of chefs, dietitians and nutritionists using sustainably sourced ingredients and supporting British food and farming to create a wide menu choice designed for older people.

In addition to over 100 standard menu choices, we can also accommodate specific dietary requirements including low sugar, gluten free and texture modified meals.

What are the costs?

The meal delivery service is available for lunchtime deliveries to your home on every day of the year and costs £6.50 for a main course and dessert.

Payment for the service will be collected on a monthly basis by Direct Debit, bank transfer or card payment over the telephone. You will only be charged for the service on the specific days when you have requested a meal delivery.

Holy Cross Church opening update

25/03/2020

The Church of England has closed all churches with immediate effect. Please call Rev Roger Powell on 01793 740 369 for any care and support you may need at this time.

Spar shop notice

25/03/2020

To enable social distancing

For the safety of staff and customers, whilst our orders from spar are being delivered
(tuesday, thursday & saturday mornings)
We will close the shop for 60 minutes to enable us to get new produce on the shelves and for staff and customers to remain safe.

We will also be limiting the amount of customers in the shop to 6 at any one time.

We all thank you for your continued support.

Voluntary Action Swindon (VAS) update

25/03/2020

Thank you Swindon for a phenomenal response – we are currently closing the registration form for new volunteers whilst we manage and match the 500+ who have already registered.

If you want to volunteer and haven’t registered already through Compassionate Swindon there is now the opportunity to join the national NHS led ‘Volunteer Responder’ scheme who will be matching volunteers with the 1.5 million people who are specifically being asked to shield themselves due to underlying health conditions.

Thank you for your compassion.

Best regards
Claire

Commissioning Manager – Voluntary Sector Commissioning

New Road allotments

24/03/2020

Parish Council statement:

The Parish Council is keeping the allotments open for as long as Government guidelines permit it, and as long as tenants can agree to work within the confines of social distancing/no gatherings over 2 people.

Please continue to enjoy your allotment and get some fresh air and exercise.

Any growing tips for easy fruit & veg to the rest of us for our gardens would be appreciated.

Restricted Access

24/03/2020

Sir Henry Calley Memorial Gardens and Butts Road Cemetery:

By order of H.M. Government as part of the UK Coronavirus response.
Effective from Midnight 23rd March for a minimum period of 21 days.
No maintenance or checks will be carried out in this area whilst this restriction is in place.
Do not enter this area unless absolutely necessary. No gatherings of more than 2 people. Practice social distancing. Burials and interments should only be carried out if your funeral director advises you should do so without delay.

Castle View Play Area:

Play area closed by order of H.M. Government as part of the UK Coronavirus Response
Closure effective from Midnight 23rd March for a minimum period of 21 days
No equipment safety checks will be carried out whilst the play area is closed.

Station House surgery update:

24/03/2020

The waiting time for prescription medication is now 72 hours from the point at which prescriptions are dropped off. Make sure your prescription is submitted in plenty of time.

Church service changes

23/03/2020

All church services in the ridgeway benefice have been suspended until further notice

However, the churches –
Holy Cross, St George and
St Andrew
– will be open for private prayer and quiet reflection as follows:

Sundays, 10am to 11.30am

Wednesdays – Holy Cross, 10am to 11.30am
Maundy Thursday – Holy Cross, 10am to 11.30am, 7.30pm to 9pm
Good Friday – all churches, 1.30pm to 3pm
Ogbourne St George church is open every day

Rev Roger Powell is available as usual on 01793 740369

Eligible Swindon businesses to receive business rate relief from next month

23/03/2020

From Swindon Borough Council:

Swindon businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industry who are eligible for the Government’s 12-month business rate holiday will see it reflected in their bills from next month.

Swindon Borough Council will be administering the financial help to all firms who qualify following a package of support announced by the Chancellor yesterday evening (17 March) aimed at helping businesses through the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government also revealed it will make £330bn in loans available via banks, with the Treasury as guarantor, for firms of all sizes so they can keep paying employees’ wages, plus a further £20bn in funding, including grants of up to £25,000 for small firms.

The latest measures are in addition to a previously announced range of support including business interruption loans; statutory sick pay relief; time to pay arrangements; business rate retail discounts and cash grants.

Details on when the funding will be available are still being finalised, but the Council and its business support partners are working with government departments to ensure that businesses have accurate information and the most efficient methods of accessing any support for which they are eligible.

The Council’s Business and Economy Team is also liaising with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), the Federation of Small Businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce to provide up-to-date information and advice for Swindon businesses.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “This is a challenging time for many people, not just in terms of the impact of the virus on people’s health, but also their livelihoods.

“I would like to reassure everyone in Swindon that we are doing everything we can to support people to be safe. Our officers are also working incredibly hard with our local partners and government departments to ensure local businesses, who are going through a very difficult time at present, have the support they need.

“The Chancellor’s package of measures provides significant support for local businesses and I am delighted we will be able to facilitate the 12-month business rate relief to those eligible businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industry from next month.

“We will making the case to Government to make the other support available to companies as quickly as possible.”

Information on the support available to Swindon companies will be published on the Council’s website and social media channels as soon as it is available. Business can also sign up to SWLEP’s Growth Hub for the latest advice and information at: growthhub.swlep.co.uk.

Finding Things For Kids to Do Indoors

23/03/2020

For tips to help children find things to do indoors, visit:

www.scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors/

Help with Coronavrus from Local Organisations and SBC

23/03/2020

If you know someone outside Chiseldon who may need help in the current situation, you can direct them to this website which offers help from local organisations and SBC:

Coronavirus – Compassionate Swindon

 

Latest Updates from SBC, 23rd March

23/03/2020

Latest Government announcement on the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced that cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from tonight (20 March), except for take-away food, to tackle coronavirus.
  • All the UK’s nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been asked to close “as soon as they reasonably can”. The situation will be reviewed each month.
  • The Chancellor has said the Government will pay 80 per cent of wages for employees who are not working, up to £2,500 a month.

Health Advice

If you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough – even if it’s mild, everyone in your household must stay at home for 14 days and keep away from others.

  • Do not visit your GP or local hospital
  • Visit nhs.uk/coronavirus for further advice
  • Continue washing your hands for 20 seconds

If you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough – even if it’s mild✅Everyone in your household must stay at home for 14 days and keep away from others.❌DO NOT go to the GP or hospital ❌✅Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get online or your symptoms worsen.Find out how to isolate your household: nhs.uk/coronavirus

Posted by Swindon Borough Council on Thursday, 19 March 2020

 

General Coronavirus Information

Helping those who need it most

We’ve launched a new voluntary initiative aimed at helping our vulnerable residents who have been forced to self-isolate.

We’ve teamed up with Voluntary Action Swindon and the Volunteer Centre Swindon to match volunteers with those who have no one else to help them.

This could involve speaking to someone over the phone to offer some companionship through to collecting their shopping.

Could you help an isolated or vulnerable resident in Swindon? Get in touch below.

Sign up here.

Unrestricted travel for concessionary bus pass holders

Older people and those with disabilities will be able to use their bus passes before 9.30am from Monday (23 March).

We have decided to help both older and disabled residents get to the shops earlier allowing them to make the most of early opening hours at supermarkets.

Parents must keep children at home

Parents are being encouraged to keep their children at home, following the Government’s decision to close all schools from today (20 March).

Schools, and all childcare providers are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

The Department for Education has issued a number of key principles for parents to follow during the COVID-19 response:

  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  • If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them, should they not be able to be cared for at home.
  • Parents should not rely for childcare from those who should be social distancing such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  • Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  • Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or who work in one of the critical sectors outlined by the Government, and cannot keep their children safe at home, then their children will be prioritised for education provision.

Other Information

You can also access the latest health advice and information on the government’s response to the ongoing pandemic.

Information on the latest government guidance for employees, employers and businesses can be found on the GOV.UK website.

 

 

New webpage goes live with updates on Council services affected by COVID-19

23/03/2020

Only a small number of services delivered by Swindon Borough Council have so far been affected by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In order to keep residents fully up to date with services, the Council has published a new page on its website with real-time updates on services, which residents can see here: www.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Yesterday (Wed), STEAM Museum temporarily closed its doors to the public until Friday, 1 May. The closure is in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment, while also following recommendations by the Government to reduce the spread of the virus.

Likewise, the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery on Bath Road is now also closed until May, as is Lydiard House and Park. Lydiard hotel is open Monday to Thursday but remains under review.

Council-run parks – Stanton, Coate Water, Mouldon Hill and Barbury Castle – are open as usual, though the pitch and putt course at Coate Water is closed until further notice.

In line with the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this week, schools in Swindon will be closed to the vast majority of pupils from Monday, 23 March until further notice.

Parents are encouraged to visit the websites of individual schools to find out what provisions are being made to support the children of key workers. Schools should also communicate their plans directly to parents and carers.

The Council is currently able to ensure its five core libraries are kept open, though all events, exhibitions, activities and groups have been cancelled for March and April.

Beechcroft Library, run by Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, will close from Monday (23 March) and four libraries run by Swindon North Parish Council – Penhill, Pinetrees, Moredon and Even Swindon – closed yesterday (Wed).

The following Council services are currently operating as normal:

  • Waste and recycling collections
  • Education and social care transport
  • Housing services
  • Homeline
  • Homeless support
  • Customer Services
  • Register Office

As reported yesterday (Wed), limited meetings will take place at the Civic Offices up until Thursday, 21 May. A review will take place at the end of April to assess the situation.

Kingsdown Crematorium and the Council’s three cemeteries are open for visitors, though the crematorium office has a reduced service and is only taking urgent enquiries by telephone.

The Household Waste Recycling Centre in Cheney Manor Industrial Estate is also operating as usual, though it is currently experiencing significant pressures. Residents are therefore asked not to use the facility unless it is absolutely necessary.

Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that we are continuing to deliver as many vital services as we possibly can.

“Like local authorities all across the country, we are facing significant and unprecedented challenges but we will continue to do all we can to make sure that, where possible, services are not interrupted unnecessarily.”

Support for Older People Who Are Self-Isolating

23/03/2020

Latest Government announcement on the COVID-19 pandemic

22/03/2020
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced that cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from tonight (20 March), except for take-away food, to tackle coronavirus.
  • All the UK’s nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been asked to close “as soon as they reasonably can”. The situation will be reviewed each month.
  • The Chancellor has said the Government will pay 80 per cent of wages for employees who are not working, up to £2,500 a month.

If you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough – even if it’s mild, everyone in your household must stay at home for 14 days and keep away from others.

  • Do not visit your GP or local hospital
  • Visit nhs.uk/coronavirus for further advice
  • Continue washing your hands for 20 seconds

Station House surgery

22/03/2020

As we have entered the delayed phase of coronavirus (COVID-19) the surgery is providing a restrictive service to protect vulnerable patients and staff. All appointment requests will be triaged by a Clinician. Ring 01793 812221 for a telephone appointment. If you have been asked to come to the surgery please ring the buzzer on arrival. Post prescription requests through the letter boxes on either site. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Station House Surgery

21/03/2020

Only one person at a time may enter the lobby. Please wait outside until the person before you leaves. This is in the interest of confidentiality and for patients own safety and well-being.

Thank you.

Bus pass restrictions to be lifted for older and disabled people in Swindon

20/03/2020

Older people and those with disabilities will be able to use their bus passes before 9.30am from Monday (23 March).

Swindon Borough Council has made the decision in conjunction with local bus companies to enable both older and disabled residents to get to the shops earlier during the current COVID-19 pandemic so they can take advantage of designated shopping slots from the major supermarkets.

Holders of a senior citizen and disabled bus pass were previously only able to travel for free on buses after 9.30am.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment said: “I would like to thank all our local bus companies for their support in extending the period in which people can use their bus passes.

“This will make a real difference to the older generation and those people with disabilities, giving them greater access to shops during what is a really difficult time for our local communities.”

Swindon Borough Council has a statutory duty to provide passes for free bus travel throughout England for older and disabled people under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS).

Spotting the Scammers

20/03/2020

Wiltshire Police wants to remind residents to be aware of fraudsters trying to take advantage of others during the current global situation.

We’ve heard from other police forces of new scams which are targeting the elderly and most vulnerable who are self-isolating at home.

Examples of fraud include, people visiting homes posing as police officers and/or health officials trying to gain entry with a view to burgle them. The criminals will often offer fake coronavirus testing as well as bogus food and medicine delivery services.

So far, we have not seen any such cases in Wiltshire – but we want to make people aware.

Top tips to thwart the fraudsters:

  • Be a good neighbour – keep an eye on an elderly or vulnerable person living near you.
  • Check ID – volunteers working with the health and emergency services will be in possession of the necessary documentation to prove they are genuine.
  • If in doubt call us – if you are not sure about someone, don’t engage and report any serious suspicious behaviour.
  • Online fraud – don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • Shopping online – if buying from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

The majority of groups are well intentioned and will be working with charities or a local authority and should have proof that they are doing so.

Remember, currently in Wiltshire, police officers and medical professionals are not doing door-to-door checks or administering tests.

Report any suspicious person or activity to us straight away so we can gather evidence and take action against the individuals.

Call 101, if non-urgent, or 999 in an emergency. You can also report crime online now via our website www.wiltshire.police.uk

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website.

Coronavirus (Covid-19): latest NHS advice and information

19/03/2020

Please follow the link to see the latest NHS information and guidelines:

www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

 

Takeaway Food - Baker's Arms, Badbury

19/03/2020

COVID-19 UPDATE

Throughout this uncertainty we will be operating a FULL TAKEAWAY MENU

This will be BY collection ONLY

Bottled drinks will be available to take out too.

But we please urge you if you’re visiting the pub for a collection to wash your hands, so we can run this for as long as we can.

Orders can be placed in person or over the phone. 01793740313

PLEASE SHARE TO KEEP YOUR LOCAL LITTLE PUB THRIVING.

Takeaway Food - Calley Arms, Hodson

19/03/2020

Calley Arms in Hodson are offering take away fish and chips and pie and chips. If you want something off our main menu – ask us and we will try to accommodate this. We are also offering bottled beers and wine to takeaway.

calleyarmshodson.co.uk/dining/

 

Takeaway Food - Chiseldon Smokehouse

19/03/2020

Take away menu

Starters £5

  • Spicy chicken wings
  • Cauliflower and mushrooms fritters
  • Calamari and red velvet prawns
  • Vegetables samosas
  • Mix bhajis

Mains £10

  • Burgers with chips ( chicken, pulled pork, sinollona chicken) Or Portobello mushroom and red red pepper burger
  • Scampi and chips Cod and chips
  • Homemade pie and chips
  • Curry(chicken or lamb) rice and papadum
  • 16 hour slow cooked Brisket Slow and low JD and cola Ribs
  • Chilli and rice Lasagne garlic bread and salad

For more please call us or leave message drinks can place order on phone

Takeaway Menu - Plough On The Hill

19/03/2020

Update from Sainsbury's Chief Executive, Mike Coupe

19/03/2020

I wrote to you last week to tell you about some of the steps we are taking to support increased demand for food and other essential items.

After I wrote to you last week, many of you replied. You wrote to share your concerns about our elderly and vulnerable customers and to ask if we can do more to restrict the number of items each person can buy. I have listened to feedback from you and from Sainsbury’s colleagues across the country and wanted to share some of the extra steps we are taking to make sure everyone has access to the items that they need:

A number of you suggested that we reserve an hour in stores for elderly and vulnerable customers. In response to this request, we will set aside the first hour in every supermarket this Thursday 19th March, for elderly and vulnerable customers. I hope that you can respect this decision and will work with us as we try our best to help those that need it the most. If you or an elderly family member, friend or neighbour would like to shop during this hour, please check online for your local supermarket opening hours.

We will also help elderly and vulnerable customers access food online. From Monday 23rd March, our online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots. We will contact these customers in the coming days with more details.

For any online customer who can travel to our stores, from Monday 23rd March, we will operate an expanded ‘click and collect’ service. We are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country over the coming days in preparation for this. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. We believe this will also work for people who are self-isolating.

As we work to feed the nation, we are also focusing all of our efforts on getting as much food and other essential items from our suppliers, into our warehouses and onto shelves as we possibly can. We still have enough food for everyone – if we all just buy what we need for us and our families.

To help us get more essential items onto the shelves, from this Thursday 19th March, we will be closing our cafes and our meat, fish and pizza counters in supermarkets. This means we can free up warehouse and lorry capacity for products that customers really need. It will also free up time for our store colleagues to focus on keeping the shelves as well stocked as possible.

I mentioned last week that we had put limits on a very small number of products. Following feedback from our customers and from our store colleagues, we have decided to put restrictions on a larger number of products. From tomorrow, Wednesday 18th March, customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger numbers of customers.

Finally, I wanted to end by saying a huge thank you to Sainsbury’s colleagues across the business. Everyone is working flat out in difficult circumstances to do their best to serve our customers. If you’re able to say thank you to them when you see them, I know they would hugely appreciate it.
Best wishes

Mike

Age UK Helpline for COVID-19

18/03/2020

If there are any elderly people who have health concerns at this time, Age UK has a free helpline on 0800 055 6112, open 7 days a week, 8.00am to 7.00pm. They can also help with welfare, care and housing issues.

 

Eligible Swindon businesses to receive business rate relief from next month

18/03/2020

Swindon businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industry who are eligible for the Government’s 12-month business rate holiday will see it reflected in their bills from next month.

Swindon Borough Council will be administering the financial help to all firms who qualify following a package of support announced by the Chancellor yesterday evening (17 March) aimed at helping businesses through the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government also revealed it will make £330bn in loans available via banks, with the Treasury as guarantor, for firms of all sizes so they can keep paying employees’ wages, plus a further £20bn in funding, including grants of up to £25,000 for small firms.

The latest measures are in addition to a previously announced range of support including business interruption loans; statutory sick pay relief; time to pay arrangements; business rate retail discounts and cash grants.

Details on when the funding will be available are still being finalised, but the Council and its business support partners are working with government departments to ensure that businesses have accurate information and the most efficient methods of accessing any support for which they are eligible.

The Council’s Business and Economy Team is also liaising with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), the Federation of Small Businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce to provide up-to-date information and advice for Swindon businesses.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “This is a challenging time for many people, not just in terms of the impact of the virus on people’s health, but also their livelihoods.

“I would like to reassure everyone in Swindon that we are doing everything we can to support people to be safe. Our officers are also working incredibly hard with our local partners and government departments to ensure local businesses, who are going through a very difficult time at present, have the support they need.

“The Chancellor’s package of measures provides significant support for local businesses and I am delighted we will be able to facilitate the 12-month business rate relief to those eligible businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industry from next month.

“We will making the case to Government to make the other support available to companies as quickly as possible.”

Information on the support available to Swindon companies will be published on the Council’s website and social media channels as soon as it is available. Business can also sign up to SWLEP’s Growth Hub for the latest advice and information at: https://growthhub.swlep.co.uk.

Free Access to Pupil Learning Resources from TWINKL

18/03/2020

We have received the following from TWINKL:

 

Latest on COVID-19 from SBC

18/03/2020

Dear colleagues,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) remains a fast-evolving issue which is why we continue to signpost colleagues and the public to official government sources.

Please assure residents we are taking this very seriously, following the latest national advice.

To assist you in advising residents, people with symptoms are no longer required to call NHS 111, as the system is under strain, but are instead urged to look for information on the NHS website and 111 online. The public should:

Practice good hygiene:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Stay at home for 7 days if they have either:

  • a high temperature (over 37.8 degrees Celsius or above)
  • a new, continuous cough

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

We have also made live a webpage on the borough website signposting to the latest advice: www.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Senior officers are also in the process of compiling updated business continuity information so we can manage and mitigate risks across all our services and we have also met with social care and housing providers.

Are you self-isolating? Can we help you?

17/03/2020

Hello, we hope you are all keeping well and looking after yourselves. It is a bit of a scary time at the moment, and we would like to do what we can to help make your life easier.

If you live in the local villages and are;

  • Aged over 70
  • Have underlying health conditions
  • Are self isolating on the recommendation of the Government

Then we can help as we are offering local deliveries or a quick pre-paid pick up service. If you require this service please phone (01793 741436) or email (info@threetreesfarm.co.uk) and we can talk you through the options.

The farm shop is open as usual.

Don’t forget to follow us

Do keep an eye on our Website, Facebook and Instagram for details of upcoming events and offers in the shop.

Self-Isolation Printable Poster

17/03/2020

Download an print the following poster if you are self-isolating and want to alert visitors to the fact.

Swindon coronavirus update - Friday 6 March 2020

06/03/2020

Dear colleagues,

The UK Chief Medical Officer has today (6 March 2020) confirmed further cases of COVID-19 infection in the UK. One of these cases is a resident from Swindon who became infected while in Northern Italy and is self-isolating.

The individual is getting all necessary support from relevant agencies. Public Health England, the council and local NHS colleagues are working closely together to respond.

Public Health England is currently contacting people who may have had close contact with the confirmed case. Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after they had contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure that any risk to them is minimised and the wider public is protected.

Based on current evidence, Coronavirus COVID-19 presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.

There is a lot going on nationally to ensure we are prepared to manage this risk and locally, we have tried and tested plans in place which means we are prepared to deal with a whole range of issues.

Whilst the confirmation of a case in the county will undoubtedly increase people’s anxiety, it’s important to remain calm but vigilant and take necessary steps.

The best action we can all take is to ensure we continue to have good personal and hand hygiene, which includes:

  • Giving your hands a good wash with soap and water is the most effective action you can take (but hand gels can be a good substitute).
  • Maintaining personal hygiene when coughing or sneezing is also important – use a tissue rather your hands and then throw it away.
  • It is good general practice to use cleaning wipes to give your keyboard, desk, phone etc. the once over on a regular basis.

Anyone who is concerned about their health symptoms is advised to follow the advice about what to do on the Government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

The advice for anyone who is experiencing a cough or fever or shortness of breath, is to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

People are asked NOT to turn up at their GP surgery or other health services (e.g. hospital).

If people have trips planned, they should follow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice.

To stay up to date with the national situation and response and any advice PHE is giving you can visit their website. Alternatively, you can follow the Department for Health and Social Care on Twitter- @DHSCgovuk

I will keep you up to date with local developments.

Sue Wald
Corporate Director Adult Social Services and Health
Swindon Borough Council

Neighbourhood Watch Encourages Protecting the Isolated and Vulnerable During the Covid 19 Outbreak

05/03/2020

Dear Neighbourhood Watch supporters,

You will all be aware of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Neighbourhood Watch exists to look out for communities across England and Wales and at a time like this we encourage you to consider ways to keep yourself, your loved ones and those in your community safe, particularly the isolated and vulnerable. We are following the advice from the government and encourage you to do the same: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

10 ways you, as a Neighbourhood Watch supporter, can protect yourself, your loved ones and your community:

  1. Meet with household members, other relatives, friends and neighbours to discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community and what the needs of each person will be.
  2. If your neighbourhood has a website or social media page, consider joining it to maintain access to neighbours, information, and resources. Alternatively, share phone numbers and email addresses particularly with those who are isolated or vulnerable.
  3. Consider establishing a ‘buddy’ system within your community to ensure everyone stays connected to COVID-19 related news, services and can receive support safely, such as essentials deliveries.
  4. Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications.
  5. Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy.
  6. Learn how to self-isolate. Guidance can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
  7. Create a list of local organisations that you and your neighbours can contact in the event that one of you need access to information, healthcare services, support, or resources. Consider including organisations that provide mental health or counselling services, food, and other supplies.
  8. Create an emergency contact list of family, friends, neighbours, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.
  9. Learn about the emergency operations plan at your child’s school or childcare facility, and your employer’s emergency operations plan.
  10. Practice everyday preventive actions including regular hand washing.
    1. The NHS provides guidance on how to wash hands: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/.
    2. The World Health Organisation provides guidance on basic protective measures: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
    3. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance on handwashing for families https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/handwashing-family.html
      Please note: whilst we encourage you to follow advice from UK Government we are also sharing links to organisations such as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention an agency which works 24/7 to protect the safety, health, and security of America from threats here and around the world. Some of our key points above have been sourced from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also published (14th February 2020) Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Homes and Residential Communities which you may find useful: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html.

Regards and keep well,
Central Support Team at Neighbourhood Watch

Advice from Health Watch Swindon

27/02/2020

Health Watch Swindon have put together some advice and information about the virus, as well as what you should do if you think you may have it.