The leader of Cornwall Council has appealed to the Government to allow the authority to use leftover grant cash to help Cornish businesses during the second lockdown.
Julian German said at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet that the lockdown, due to start tomorrow, would have a “profound effect” on Cornwall.
He said: “It is a situation we had all hoped to avoid, but as this second wave of coronavirus sweeps across the country and case numbers continue to rise, it’s clear that action needs to be taken in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.
” These measures, while undoubtedly necessary, will have a profound effect on residents and businesses across Cornwall – businesses already reeling from the aftershock of the first lockdown.
“I was pleased to see the chancellor commit to extending the current 80% furlough scheme, including more help for the self-employed, but I am extremely concerned about the lack of a sustainable long-term strategy from the Government that will help sustain businesses and keep people in jobs.
“Another month of lost trading means this pandemic winter will be an anxious and difficult time for employers and employees alike.
“That’s why I once again ask that the Government allows us to use the £28 million of ring-fenced business grant funding from earlier in the year to help support those that need it the most. We know our business community. We know what they need. We know this money can make a real difference. Let us use it.”
Cllr German said that the council would continue to support those residents and businesses which need help.
He said: “We have worked with the Department of Work and Pensions, Cornwall Development Company and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership to provide support for employers and employees who are going through redundancy.
“We are continuing to encourage those who can pay their council tax to do so but for anyone who is struggling please do get in touch through our website cornwall.gov.uk to explore how we can help and see if you’re eligible for Council Tax Support.
“There are also three discretionary funds to support residents in need of extra financial help. They cover rent, council tax, and a crisis and care award scheme for those who find themselves in an emergency situation.
“Help and support is also available for anyone concerned about their mental wellbeing, because worrying about whether or not you will be able to keep a roof over your head or food on the table can take its toll on any of us.”
The council leader said its public health department was continuing to work to address the pandemic locally.
He said: “We will continue to work through our public health test and trace team to identify and contain any potential outbreaks of the virus, in line with our local outbreak management plan.
“The team have been incredibly effective in this, and I thank them for the vital work they are doing, but we must be realistic. As with the rest of the country, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.
“This grim inevitability, coupled with seasonal pressures on our health and social care system make it more important than ever that we all follow the public health guidance.
“In addition, I ask that residents dial 111 to get urgent health treatment from the most effective place, and only call 999 for life-threatening emergency conditions, to help alleviate pressure on our colleagues in the NHS. We must do all we can to protect our health and social care services.
“I know the next few weeks will be difficult, and I know many of you are tired of the seemingly endless rules and regulations that we all must abide by – but as the nights draw in and we face the prospect of a long and difficult winter, they are more important now than ever.
“I know that Cornwall councillors, our communities, voluntary organisations and partners will continue to do their excellent work keeping us all safe.
“I want to thank Cornwall Council staff for going over and above in their work to ensure our residents remain safe. I know how hard you have all been working, that its tough, demanding and tiring, but I know your commitment to our residents and Cornwall remains unstinting. It can be hard to imagine a time when coronavirus will not dominate our lives the way it does today – but that time will come, and we will all come out of this stronger together.”
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Richard Whitehouse is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Cornwall Council and other public organisations across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency: funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, in this instance Reach PLC brand Cornwall Live, and used by qualifying partners.
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The council has also reminded people of how to contact the council for issues relating to COVID-19.
A dedicated email address continues to accept queries at firstname.lastname@example.org
And a dedicated telephone line has been set up for anyone who is clinically vulnerable who needs help or support – the number is 0300 1234 334.