Chorley Council's Response to Covid-19
Deputy Chief Executive to present an update to Members.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee welcomed Chris Sinnott, Deputy Chief Executive to give a presentation highlighting the efforts of the Council during the Covid-19 pandemic.
(Councillor Kim Snape joined 19:01)
Programmes were developed and rolled out to ensure those shielding was given the support needed. Staff accepted additional responsibilities to support residents.
(Councillor June Molyneux joined 19:03)
A significant amount of planning, effort and focused work went into the Lancashire Resilience Forum (LRF), a partnership made up of organisations that work together to prepare and respond to emergencies in Lancashire. The LRF involved the emergency services; local authorities; health agencies; Environment Agency; Voluntary groups; transport providers; utility providers and local businesses to ensure resources were effectively used.
The initial response was to keep staff safe and service running effectively, ensuing the workplace was Covid-19 secure and that staff were able and confidently work from home.
Democratic Services ensured that Councillors were up to date and work could continue safely.
Over 3000 households were supported by volunteers within the Council and the Community. 4700 calls were made to those on the shielding list and 1100 food parcels were delivered to the community. Many residents reported a change of perspective in how they viewed the Council.
Businesses in the Borough were significantly impacted, over £40m was processed in grants, 4000 businesses were supported directly, over 70 businesses attended webinars, and 40 booked appointments with advisors to receive help and support throughout the pandemic.
A new team was established and became one of the first to take on the Zero Covid-19 Programme. The team took over the role of track and trace with a success rate of 95% which was greater than the national average. The team assisted the local primary care network with the roll out of lateral flow testing and now the vaccination bus.
The Council’s core services, and projects have been ongoing. The process of shared services continued with reviews conducted of terms and conditions, pay grades, and agreed expansion.
Challenges included the quarter four performance with indicators off track. There had been an increase of 16-17-year old’s not in employment, education, or training (NEET). Ongoing work was required to support the recovery of the local economy. There was an increased number of young people reporting concerns with their mental health with an increase in reported self-harm.
Council staff to begin a phased return scheme from the 19July, but there was uncertainty around the lifting of restrictions. A workplace strategy had been developed exploring how staff could adapt post Covid-19 and work in patterns that fit with the shared services agenda across Chorley and South Ribble. An emphasis was placed on ensuring staff felt that they were receiving the right amount of support, while maintaining the flexibility and balance within the organisation.
Members thanked Chris Sinnott for attending and presenting to the Committee, an issue was raised about the conflict between resolving issues inside the homes of residents and policies of keeping staff safe. It was acknowledged that there had been challenges but efforts have been made to adapt work to ensure all issues were attended to, support had been given but further issues could be raised with relevant directors.
Members with experience of the LRF praised the positives for Lancashire and there was optimism that there would be further cooperation between organisations. Chris Sinnott agreed and felt that at the executive level of the council, there was a desire for further cooperation. In response to a question about some volunteers failing to be communicated with, overall, there were high levels of positive feedback from both volunteers and those supported.
Members praised and acknowledged that the different diverse communities of Chorley came together to help each other throughout the pandemic.
There was not a precise vaccine figure for Chorley. But the Borough was doing better than the rest of Lancashire, although the more deprived areas such as Chorley East had fallen behind, work was ongoing with the NHS to encourage people from these communities to access the vaccine.
Chorley Council wanted to maximise the amount of money out the door to support local business and into the local economy, but it was noted that many grants have criteria that needed to be met. Once the grants close, the Council will need to report back to the Government and undertake post grant assurance to ensure that the correct grants were processed correctly to the right recipient. The understanding had been that those chasing the grants were chasing their livelihoods and the Council wanted to process each claim as efficiently as possible but done the right way.
Decision: The presentation was noted.