18 March 2020: Everything you need to know about council services
Update on Swansea Council Services 17/3/2020
These are unprecedented times. Advice from UK and Welsh Governments is evolving daily.
It is clear that ordinary daily life will continue to change significantly in the coming days, weeks and months.
In light of the current and likely future restrictions, it is clear councils across the U.K. will not be able to carry on providing council services in the same way. However key council services will continue, and still need to be delivered to those people that rely on them.
I want to reassure you that we will continue to focus on maintaining critical services. We will continue to work closely with both governments, our partners in health, and community groups and volunteers to support our local communities, especially our most vulnerable people.
Following further changes in UK Government advice, councils across The UK and Wales are taking steps designed to deal with the challenge of significant increased demand for care and the protection of the vulnerable.
Therefore in line with updated Government advice, Swansea Council will begin suspending many non-essential services. Other services will be maintained as normal for the time being but are under continuous review. Further significant changes are likely.
As of 17/3 - In terms of schools the advice from U.K. and Welsh Government remains unchanged and therefore most schools will remain open for the time being.
This is being kept under continuous review and we continue to liaise closely with Welsh Government and feed back concerns of parents and schools.
However, due to new Government advice we have today announced our two special schools at Crug Glas and Pen Y Bryn will close immediately. This is due to their pupils’ underlying health issues.
Neath Port-Talbot council have taken similar steps.
The Welsh Education Minister has also now recommended that any pupil or member of staff in any school with one or more of the identified underlying health issues should remain at home. Parents will need to consider this new ministerial advice, even if the school their child attends remains open.
All other mainstream schools will remain open for the time being, but, in anticipation of the Government advising closures in the near future, schools are continuing to develop remote working for schools via access to education portals and Hwb.
Teachers who are well have been advised that they should continue to attend schools even when the schools are closed to pupils.
As of 17/3 - Other Services being closed immediately include museums, galleries, sporting venues, day centres and theatres. This is again in line with the revised Government advice
Libraries, district housing offices and community centre are being re-purposed to provide alternative support services. New community ‘help hubs’ and additional community support services will be established shortly.
Most face-to-face contact between council staff and the public at the Contact Centre and satellite offices will be suspended and replaced by phone and online support in line with government advice.
Those council staff who are able to work from home will be asked and supported to do so, in line with new government advice.
Special arrangements will be made for weddings, burials and cremations.
New community services
To prepare for the coming period Swansea council will re-direct some non essential service staff from their normal roles into new temporary teams to support vulnerable people in the community. We will look to link with and support community groups and other volunteers in the coming days. We will continue to work closely with Trade union colleagues on these temporary but necessary changes.
We are aware there are community groups who are stepping up to offer help and support to their neighbours who are in isolation or vulnerable. We want to help build on those efforts.
As part of measures to shield the vulnerable and elderly, visits to council-operated residential care homes will be restricted to only those which are essential.
As of 17/3 - The UK and Welsh Governments have announced a number of additional financial support measures for individuals and businesses.
Councils are awaiting details of the new stimulus measures and the terms and conditions of the new assistance packages so we can begin to apply the help ASAP.
Billing for all government services was already in progress before the new financial support measures were announced.
Therefore people or businesses may receive invoices or bills which are now out of date. These therefore may need to be revised in light of the new measures and some charges may no longer apply at all. As soon as we have more detail we will advise further.
Further measures will need to be taken in the coming days, and we will continue to update you as soon as we have new information.
I would also urge you to continue to visit the council web pages and follow UK, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales advice.
We are in unprecedented times and we all need to support each other, support our communities and support our NHS.
We all need to play our part by, remaining calm, being kind and supportive to our neighbours, looking out for each other and following the government and professional advice.
The council’s approach to providing services will continue to change rapidly, based on Government and professional advice.
I want to thank all of those dedicated staff and professionals working extremely hard to deal with these unprecedented challenges, and thanks all of you, for your compliance, patience and understanding at this exceptionally difficult time.