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.”
Support for residents
- More than 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
- Council tax bills of working age people receiving Local Council Tax Support will be reduced for 2020/21
- The Council’s Emergency Assistance fund will support residents that have been severely affected by coronavirus causing them hardship
- Tenants affected by coronavirus are encouraged to contact the Council to discuss their circumstances:
- Support is available for those who fall behind on rent payments and the Council will not pursue tenants for rent arrears.
- Evictions will be avoided as long as tenants follow the advice and support from the Council’s housing officers
- Council parking tickets won’t be issued to those who are not usually allowed to use on-street residential, shared use, permit parking bays and limited waiting bays
- Parking tickets will only be issued to cars parked dangerously, on yellow lines and in disabled bays when not permitted
- Car parks will be opened up for residents with parking permits to use
- All books will be automatically renewed until libraries are reopened
- All library memberships due to expire before the end of June will be automatically renewed for six months
- eBook, eAudiobook and eMagazine will be available for residents
- These residents can use their bus passes before 9.30am
- Priority re-booking for weddings postponed at the Civic Offices
- Charges waived for Notice appointments for postponed marriages
Support for businesses
- 100% business rate relief will be available for all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses for 2020-21
- A £10,000 grant to small businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000
- A £25,000 grant to all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value between £15,000-£50,999
- Extra protection so businesses unable to pay their rent because of coronavirus don't have to worry about being evicted
- 3-month rent deferral to commercial and not-for-profit tenants
- Extended Hackney and Private Hire driver licences with no charge for six months.
Alternatively, drivers may wish to apply for a one-year licence at £70 instead of the usual three-year licences (£210).