Council ”leads from the front” with Covid-19 response

Cabinet councillors were updated about Lewes District Council’s rapid and far-reaching response to the pandemic at its first “remote” meeting since the Coivid-19 outbreak.

The Co-operative Alliance welcomed the raft of council schemes that were speedily implemented with positive impacts for residents and businesses, such as setting up a community hub to distribute thousands of food parcels to vulnerable people, writing to every resident in the district with offers of help and reassurance and processing over £20m in emergency grants for businesses faster than any other East Sussex local authority.

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “I am delighted that we have led from the front with our Covid-19 response and continue to do so, to make sure the most vulnerable in our community are given vital support they need at this unprecedented time.

“With our partners, we are continually assessing our covid-related operations against a backdrop of changing demand to plan for the future.”

Other steps taken included:

Setting up the Community Hub helpline which has so far handled more than 2,000 requests from people who are vulnerable, isolated or experiencing financial hardship

Launching the new website eatlocal.info to showcase the wide array of local food and drink businesses offering deliveries as demand rockets with people staying at home

Making daily welfare calls to tenants in sheltered accommodation and calls to all tenants over the age of 69.

Meanwhile the Customer First team has seen huge increases in telephone calls, emails and webchats since the Covid-19 outbreak, and the Housing Benefit team is dealing efficiently with significant rises in new housing benefit claims and change in circumstances enquiries.

Household waste collections have continued as normal with bulky waste the only service to be temporarily suspended, and that is now running again.

Councillor Nicholson added: “We acted quickly to ensure frontline services that residents rely on were maintained and key to this was the redeployment of council staff.

“All our staff have been amazing, in their flexible approach, they have all worked so hard to ensure high standards of service continue for our residents throughout this period of national crisis. I get messages from residents every day thanking our staff for their fantastic contribution. Thank you to all of them.”