Coronavirus: Council to set up distribution network for vital medicines and food

Latest moves to bolster support for communities in lockdown
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Fife Council will announce details of the hotline and what it calls humanitarian assistance centres very shortly.

It’s the latest response from the local authority which is now spending more than normal to support the region’s economy and residents.

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It is also looking at how it can switch lessons to online, and make payment for any services as easy as possible.

Steve Grimmond, chief executive, Fife CouncilSteve Grimmond, chief executive, Fife Council
Steve Grimmond, chief executive, Fife Council

The details came in an update from Steve Grimmond, the council’s chief executive.

He said: “Nothing in the country is normal at the moment so, our standard services are disrupted - but in their place we’re doing a whole range of different work.”

Mr Grimmond outlined the changes being made as many council services are restricted or, in some cases stopped.

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“I can see that’s leading some people to ask on social media why they pay their council tax – what’s the council doing for us?” he said.

“The answer to that is that we are actually spending more right now to support our communities and local economy than we normally do.

“As well as implementing the measures announced by the Scottish and UK governments, we’ve worked with our partners to put a package of support in place to help Fifers through the current situation.”

The council is setting up a coronavirus helpline and humanitarian assistance centres which will help co-ordinate the distribution of medicines and food for the most vulnerable people.

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It is also looking at services people are paying for directly for, such as music tuition in schools, and exploring exploring whether it can arrange online lessons or, if there are no alternatives, how to give refunds.

It is working with Fife Health and Social Care partners and recognising the significant contribution of all staff delivering social and community care throughout the pandemic.

When it comes to benefits and money advice, it is making it easier and quicker to apply and process new claims such as housing benefit, and Council Tax reduction by not insisting people providing proof of earnings.

It is encouraging people to apply for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund, and Council Tax reductions, as well as putting a temporary stop on debt recovery action if people can’t pay up.

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The council has set up 29 children’s activity centres providing free childcare for key workers’ children - there are currently 536 children registered to attend and centres will remain open over the Easter break

The housing department has set up a hotline – 03451 55 00 44 – to help with any rent issues, while tenants have been given more flexibility when it comes to paying or facing arrears.”

Mr Grimmond added: “I realise that this is an extremely difficult time for individuals, households and businesses - with many people struggling financially through an uncertain time. Processing grants and support for those in need is one of our top priorities at the moment as we also strive to keep other critical services running.