Over 2,500 must stay home
The number of vulnerable people in Torbay told to stay at home for 12 weeks during the coronavirus pandemic has risen to more 2,600.
The number has grown from an initial list of 150 at the start of the Government’s “shielding” scheme at the end of March for the most at-risk residents.
People on the list, which by Wednesday had reached 2,644, are being contacted by a team at Torbay Council to assess their needs.
The number of staff working on the council’s call-centre has now more than doubled from an initial eight.
Employees including enforcement officers have also been switched from other jobs to deliver food parcels.
The authority is sourcing emergency supplies for the people who have no other support until a new system of home deliveries from retailers is rolled out.
It is working with charities, volunteer groups and community helplines to put people in touch with services they might need, for example to help with social isolation.
The council’s director of corporate services and operations Anne-Marie Bond said the council’s priority was to support those in need.
She said: “The focus has to be about support to the community by whatever means necessary.”
The council has been given a special £5.4million Government grant to cover the initial costs of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The council’s normal finances have been disrupted by the crisis, with a big fall in income from services such as car parking.
But the Government has reassured local authorities they will have the financial support to deliver the services needed.
It is expected that the longer-term funding for local government will be reviewed nationally when the emergency ends.
Council leader Steve Darling said the initial estimate of the extra cost of responding to the virus was £10million.
He said: “We are just worrying about the next day, trying to provide the support in the community.
“The Government is saying spend what you need to spend, as long as it is reasonable and supporting the community through this virus, we will bank-roll you.”
Torbay Council’s Call Centre 01803 207201 will be open over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend for anyone who needs support with council services.
The call centre is available on weekdays from 9am to 5pm and will also be open on Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Easter Monday from 9am to 1pm.
It will also be open every weekend throughout April from 9am to 1pm.
The call centre can provide advice and support to local residents on all services including housing, council tax, registrar services and business rates, and can also advise on changes to local services as a result of coronavirus.
Details of service changes are also available on the council’s website at www.torbay.gov.uk/coronavirus
Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT) and Brixham Does Care (BDC) have set up helplines for people who are self-isolating and need help and for those members of the community who can offer support.
The helpline contact telephone numbers are:
TCDT (Torquay and Paignton): 01803 446022
BDC (Brixham): 01803 857727