Update From Fiona Regarding Local Government, Communities and Housing

An update from Fiona:

"I  would like to update you on the work the Department of Local Government, Communities and Housing  has been doing in recent days in response to COVID-19, and to answer some of the most frequent questions received.

Holiday Parks

Holiday park & caravan sites have now been closed to all, except for permanent residents who should be allowed to remain. Luke Hall MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, has written to BHHPA, UK Hospitality, and NCC, making clear that where caravan and park home sites are housing people who would otherwise have nowhere to live, or are providing accommodation to key workers or vulnerable groups, such as homeless households, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they should remain open to those groups only and not remove them from their homes. The latest Government guidance on the subject is available here.

Renters and Landlords

Nobody should be forced out of their home as a result of this epidemic. A set of changes introduced ensure that no renter in either social or private accommodation can be evicted. The full package available to renters and landlords can be found here.

NHS Parking

 NHS and social care workers can park for free at NHS and council car parks, and on the street. You can read more about this here

Constituents Moving Home

Whilst emergency measures are in place, all parties should do all they can to agree a new move date. If constituents are socially isolating or being shielded, it’s especially important to try and delay. The full guidance for those considering moving house can be found here.

Cremations and Burials

The Government’s emergency legislation has been amended, following concerns raised by those of all faiths and none, regarding the prospect of forced cremations, in in particular to ensure that local authorities, when carrying out these duties, must have regard to the person’s wishes, if known, or otherwise in a way that is consistent with the person’s religion of belief.

Hotels

The latest Government guidance is clear that hotels that provide rooms for the homeless should remain open. Luke Hall MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, and Nigel Huddlestone MP, Minister for Tourism, have spoken with industry leaders to ensure they are aware. A centralised Government booking system has been set up and will be in contact with local councils to match demand for accommodation with supply across the country. The same booking system will also be used to coordinate any accommodation needs falling under any Government department during this period.

Preparation of Councils

Local Authorities have organised themselves into hubs that provide full geographical coverage of the country. These hubs have been issued with guidance and will shortly receive information about their local vulnerable people, so that they can check against their own records and contact those who need help. There is no uniform model for Local Authorities as different areas have varying demand and capacity.

Local authorities will work closely with Local Resilience Forums and continue to attend strategic coordination groups to work together to make this system work. LRFs are now stood up onto a regular reporting rhythm and have military planners in situ in all cases to support.

There will also be opportunities to join up with a  NHS Volunteer Responders app which enabling people to sign up as volunteers to provide support to the shielded individuals. Military planners are also supporting work to assist Local Authorities as necessary with preparing for the distribution of urgent food supplies. They will advise on whether they think further military resources are needed.

A £500 million Hardship Fund will provide council tax relief to vulnerable people and households to help those affected most by coronavirus.

Food and Local Authorities

Food wholesalers have confirmed they are ready to scale up deliveries straight to the door, ramping up initially from 50k parcels per week, then 150k/ 350k/ 400k+. These are standardised packages and free for the recipient. Food package deliveries will start this weekend.

How can people apply to be on the list, and how will parcels be delivered?

The standardised food parcels will be free throughout the 12-week period.

Defra are working with the supermarket industry to develop systems to prioritise the extremely clinically vulnerable. Once this is up and running, customers will be charged in the normal way for this service. This would reduce the number of people needing to access the central free offer, although we may find new people registering for support over the coming weeks.

Individuals should discuss their daily needs during this period of staying at home with carers, family, friends, neighbours or local community groups to see how they can support . Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for the support . This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care you might need.

On a separate note, I am in touch with all our local food banks and thank them for all they are doing also. 

I hope that is helpful. For more information please see my website which I am regularly updating wwwfionabruce.org.uk.

My very best to you and your family at this time,

Fiona Bruce MP Congleton Constituency."