Statement from Lewes District Council and Eastbourne Borough Council

The Local Councils wish to share an update:-

“During these unprecedented times we are sharing regular updates about the council services that residents in Eastbourne and Lewes district rely on.

The grant scheme to support local businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis will go live Thursday morning (9/4/20) at 9am with payments to eligible businesses following once registered and the information they supply is validated.  Subject to eligibility, grants of £10,000 or £25,000 are available to local SMEs.

Letters and emails will be sent to businesses to confirm the system is live and signpost them to a dedicated area on the council website – www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk

The launch was delayed by the government making numerous changes to the guidance for implementing the scheme, meaning each payment system had to be reconfigured by the council.  Council officers have worked tirelessly to provide businesses with an automated system that will speed the process up and ensure grants are received more rapidly.

Service updates include:

  • Our customer contact centre received 148 requests for assistance on Monday (6/4/20) as a result of Covid-19.  We have received 907 requests for support to date.  The types of requests include assistance with food and shopping, medication and befriending.
  • The community hub has ramped up the packaging of food parcels and their distribution.  4,500 boxes have been packed so far and after various distributions 3,150 remain in stock.  Notably, 550 have been distributed to foodbanks.  To help people over the Bank Holiday weekend we have also arranged for fresh fruit and vegetables to accompany the food parcels.
  • Customer contact advisers will be answering Covid-19 calls and emails between 10am and 4pm on Good Friday, Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday.  Neighbourhood First officers will also be on standby to deliver emergency food parcels.
  • Our rough sleeper initiative team continue to do incredible work across both authorities, Since March 18 the have found accommodation for 50 rough sleepers in Eastbourne and 9 in Lewes district.  The current number of rough sleepers in Eastbourne (6/4/20) is 10 and 3 in Lewes district.  We are working closely with the voluntary sector to provide support packages and shopping deliveries to those placed.  This will ensure those who were rough sleeping are offered support in line with social isolation guidance. 
  • We moved very quickly to activate contingency plans and a key strand of our response was preparing for staff redeployments across business critical areas.  We undertook assessments of skills and experience and have been overwhelmed with the flexibility staff have shown in their agreement to change roles.  Listed below are a few examples of this:

The benefits team has been boosted by redeploying former benefits assessors who have the necessary expertise, but have recently been working in different roles.

The regeneration team is now focused on business grants and has welcomed five members of democratic services to work with them:-

Staff from our theatres are packing food parcels for the most vulnerable

  Tourist information advisers have joined customer contact team to staff the new Covid-19 email and telephone support line

 With the number of calls and emails increasing significantly every day, the customer contact centre has been reinforced with staff from across numerous different service areas

Vulnerable tenants received weekend calls from a bank of 20 volunteer staff, this in addition to the usual daily welfare calls they are receiving.”

  • Updates and latest news is being posted regularly on Twitter @LewesDC and @EastbourneBC