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Coronavirus memo - 2nd July, 2020 - Cllr Dr.Paul Barrow

on Thu, 02/07/2020 - 2:42pm

A message from Paul Barrow, District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward, Vale of White Horse

Levels of infection in Oxfordshire are now low and businesses are opening up. Nevertheless distancing and care are still required. We have received a couple of pieces of information which you may have already seen but, if not, please pass on as appropriate.

Playgrounds and outdoor gyms advice

The government has just published guidance on opening playgrounds (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms) while minimising risk of transmitting COVID-19.
 
The District Council is currently considering how and if it can re-open each of its own play areas safely, including any new signage which may be needed. Where a play area can be opened, people will be encouraged to wash their hands before and after they visit, maintain social distancing, and to come back at a quieter time if the area looks busy. Play areas should only be opened after safety checks have been done with clear signage in place (suggested signage attached). 

Shielding guidance relaxed

The government is relaxing the guidance for residents who are currently shielding (from Monday 6 July). Shielding residents should be aware that even after the guidance has been relaxed, support and advice is still available on 01235 422600 or by email [email protected].  Lines are open 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.
People who are shielding:

  • can meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
  • no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of their household
  • can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household.

Full details can be found at (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19).

Support available for those struggling to pay their council tax

People who have outstanding payments on their council tax bill and are struggling to pay are being urged to contact their district council to find out what support may be available. An extra £150 of discount is now available to certain residents.

The government hasn’t suspended council tax during the pandemic and so it still needs to be paid.  The council has written to residents who aren’t currently in receipt of council tax support and whose accounts are in arrears, advising them on the options that are available and urging them to get in touch.

The councils can also now confirm that residents receiving a reduction on their council tax via the councils’ Council Tax Reduction scheme, will receive up to a further £150 off their 2020/21 council tax bill. Anyone who is worried about being able to afford their council tax should get in touch with the councils to find out about the help that’s available to best support them.  This can include:

  • rescheduling council tax instalments so that they start later or are spread over a longer time;
  • applying for council tax support - the councils’ council tax reduction scheme can help reduce the amount of council tax people have to pay – visit www.southoxon.gov.uk/ctrs or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/ctrs for details;
  • making payment, setting up a Debit Debit, or changing payment arrangements online via southoxon.gov.uk/counciltax or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/counciltax.

Residents who are self-isolating are encouraged to pay online.  Alternatively, you can pay by calling the 24/7 automated payment service on 0345 302 2313 (south) or 0345 302 2315 (Vale).  When you call you will need to quote the council tax reference at the top of this letter or as displayed at the top of your council tax bill, so please make sure you have either of these with you.

More information on the support available to help people pay their council tax can be found at http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/services-and-advice/council-tax-and-benef....

Paul Barrow

District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward