Report of the Leader of the Council on South Kesteven District Council’s response to COVID-19.
The Leader of the Council presented his report which gave a position statement on South Kesteven District Council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated he was proud of the response of the Council and the community, adding that the support received from staff, communities and Members from across the Council had been outstanding. The Leader placed on record his gratitude.
Over the last 12 weeks significant changes had been made to the way services had been delivered and communities supported. The report detailed the response of the Council and its partners and, the current position in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19. The report also formally recognised the response from community groups, charities and volunteers, and parish and town councils. It also identified lessons that could be learnt from the crisis moving forward to the restart and recovery phases. At the start of the crisis the Council had three clear priorities:
· To protect the health of staff, Members and residents
· To maintain the Council’s critical services
· To support local businesses
Highlights of the report included:
· Facilitating over 400 staff working from home, protecting the health of both staff and residents.
· Staff being redeployed to new services such as the Community Hub and the befriending service.
· Maintaining waste collection, urgent housing needs and emergency housing repairs services
· Distribution of grants totalling more than £27 million to 2,200 businesses.
· 900 local businesses which had received business rate relief.
The Cabinet recognised Members’ contributions to the response by their increased Ward Member Grant scheme allowance to help support communities during the crisis and volunteering for the befriending service.
Communication from the Council had been clear with a special version of SKToday giving details of services available and contact details. Social media activity had increased by 155% since the start of the lockdown. Daily e-mails had been sent to staff providing updates and giving support while Members received twice weekly e-mails keeping them informed about what was happening.
Customer Service officers continued to work remotely supported by the IT team, which had also helped support the running of virtual meetings. The Leader stated that he hoped remote meetings would continue after the COVID-19 response period.
Close partnership working had been carried out with the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, across councils and across the region. The Cabinet recognised that while there was still further work to do and the crisis had not yet finished, the Council would learn from the lessons to date.
Members of the Cabinet commented on the challenging and unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members expressed their thanks for the work that had been undertaken by communities, volunteers, members of staff and Members, noting the work of the Leader and the Chief Executive during this period.
A minute’s silence was held for those who had lost their lives during the COVID-19 crisis in the district.
The Cabinet noted:
1. The response of South Kesteven District Council and partners to the COVID-19 crisis and the current position of the Council with regards to the response, recovery and delivery of its priorities
2. The exceptional role of the voluntary and community sector and residents’ groups in achieving the delivery of the priorities during this period
3. The initial lessons learnt from this report and the intention to carry out a full review of the response as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan