Business, utility companies, housing associations and transport providers are providing fact sheets and advice on what they can do to help you during this difficult time.
Please see below for the information I have received so far - I will update it as more comes in.
For up-to-date information regarding what support is available from the Government please click here.
Action for Children
Parent Talk is an online support service from Action for Children designed for parents that is free:
Having seen demand for our digital support soar, and continue to grow throughout the pandemic, Action for Children know that parents and children alike are struggling with a range of issues caused by life under current restrictions.
As part of their digital offer to parents, Parent Talk helps to provide extra support. There is guidance for parents on everything from managing behaviour through to sleep and emotional wellbeing, as well as the option to live chat with their parenting coaches online.
There is also support for parents including tools to help them take care of themselves, as well as practical advice on coping with money, relationships and their own emotional wellbeing.
Age UK has put together postcards and a short video on neighbourly volunteering which provides helpful information and support for older friends and neighbours: http://bit.ly/2WtAOGT
Demand for our vital services has increased rapidly and online donations are the most effective way to reach the most in need at this time. Volunteers can help us keep our Information & Advice and friendship services running and help the local Age UKs provide practical help such as food parcels by donating at www.ageuk.org.uk/coronaappeal
Age UK is here to support older people during this challenging time. We’ve outlined some tips to help stay safe and well over the coming weeks here
If you have concerns about anything else, including welfare, care or housing, you can contact Age UK’s free advice line, 8am-7pm, 635 days a year: 0800 055 6112
Regarding care homes, Age UK have set up a webpage which provides the latest information and advice on caring for someone you don’t live with, including visiting loved ones in care homes. It also provides information on delivering care for someone in their home.
There are two things to note about care home visits:
- A care home should communicate its visiting policy clearly with residents and families so that you know how they are following the guidance.
- If a care home has an outbreak of coronavirus then it is likely that they will implement a no visitor policy. However, when this happens, care homes should ensure there are alternative ways of communicating between residents and families and provide regular updates to residents loved ones of their mental and physical health
Importantly the guidance allows for exceptional circumstances to ensure that residents who are at the end of life should continue to receive visits from their loved ones in all circumstances.
Age UK wants safe care home visits to go ahead and they are working hard with DHSC and the care sector on efforts to balance the risks from covid, but also taking into account those risks to physical and mental health created by preventing visits, namely loneliness, lack of stimulation and connection with loved ones. You can read more about their work and policy calls on care home visits here.
Age UK have set up a silver line number to enable individuals to have someone to call day or night for a friendly chat: 0800 470 8090.
Age UK's national adviceline (free, confidential and open 8am - 7pm 365 days a year) is available on 0800 678 1602.
Barclays is participating in the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBIL), which was announced by the Chancellor in the Budget and put in place by the British Business Bank. Further information can be found here: www.barclays.co.uk/business-banking/borrow/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan
The CBIL scheme is a borrowing facility designed to help businesses access finance where a lender would not be able to provide finance to the business on their normal lending criteria. The British Business Bank has set out strict eligibility criteria and limits to the size of loans that we must apply when assessing applications. This means that some businesses will find that they are unable to access loans under the scheme, but we will work with customers and clients to help them understand the framework.
Barclays has also created a hub with all the latest information on products and services for customers: https://www.barclays.co.uk/coronavirus/ It is updated daily so that customers can find the information they need in one place. The bank is asking customers to only phone in if they have an immediate financial problem so those who are most vulnerable receive the support they need.
Please find below key information on the support available to your constituents during COVID-19.
1. Business Support: This week Barclays launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) ‘top-up’ option for existing Bounce Back customers who haven’t borrowed the maximum amount they are eligible for under the scheme. To access the top-up, constituents can find more information here. Barclays continues to offer the BBLS to existing customers ahead of the application deadline, recently extended to 31 January 2021.
2. Access to Banking: Wherever possible we intend to keep our branches open as we continue to support customers and clients across the UK during lockdown periods. We are encouraging customers to only visit branches for urgent and essential banking. Customers can use the Barclays branch finder to check the latest opening hours. Customers and clients can also access help and support at: https://www.barclays.co.uk/coronavirus/.
3. Financial difficulty and vulnerable customers: We will continue to offer payment deferrals for mortgage, personal loan and credit card customers impacted by COVID-19 in line with FCA guidance. Information on how to apply can be found here. We also continue to offer enhanced support to our vulnerable customers, such as elderly customers and regular branch users, including call-prioritisation into our virtual channels and a cash-delivery service for those who need cash but are unable to access it in any other way.
Barclays has also established a £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package to support communities impacted by the social and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. The package consists of two components: charitable donations which will go to charity partners working in the communities where Barclays operates; and a commitment to match personal colleague donations to their chosen charity partners who are helping COVID-19 relief efforts. To find out more click here.
Chelmer Housing Partnership (CHP)
CHP is a local housing association with a number of homes in the Brentwood and Ongar constituency. Enhanced health and hygiene measures have been put in place in its housing schemes and all community meetings and any external use of its facilities have been cancelled, including stopping the booking of guest suites in sheltered schemes. CHP is asking any customers who feel unwell and are self-isolating, to let them know as soon as possible. This is so they know how best to deliver any essential services to them. You can find out more here.
EDF know that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on their customers’ lives and many will be worried about paying their bills. That is why EDF want to reassure customers that they are here to help. EDF are asking all customers who are worried about their finances or about paying a bill to take action and contact them.
Ignoring debt only makes the problem worse. But EDF can only help if a customer gets in touch with them.
- EDF have plenty of advice on what to do if you are worried about debt on their website here.
- Alternatively, you can call their dedicated debt advice line: 0333 009 6992
By contacting EDF, their expert customer services team will work with every customer to provide tailored support to get them out of debt and back in control of their finances as quickly as possible.
EDF have a number of ways they can help:
- Tailored repayment plans: EDF know that every person is different and they will work with each customer to agree an affordable repayment plan which is right for them
- A pay as you go meter – A smart PAYG meter puts their customers firmly in control of their energy usage and payments. Budgeting is made easy via their app, or by an in-home display that allows customers to see exactly how much energy they’re using in pounds and pence. Paying is simple too; customers can set auto-tops, low level alerts and pay online anytime, anywhere.
- Energy saving advice – By better understanding their customer’s energy use, EDF also provide useful tips on how customers can save. This includes installing a smart meter or whether a customer would be eligible for new energy efficiency measures, like insulation, through the Energy Company Obligation.
- If a customer needs extra support with their finances EDF can also put customers in touch with their partners at Citizen’s Advice Plymouth or Income Max to check for additional income sources.
FOR SMALL BUSINESS CUSTOMERS EDF know this is also an incredibly difficult time for small businesses and they are encouraging business customers who are worried about paying their bills to contact them on 0333 200 5103.
Epping Forest District Council
EFDC Corona Virus Helpline 01992 564088
9am till 5.15pm Monday – Thursday then 9-5pm Friday
Essex County Council
For updates on school closures, SEND, adult social care support, libraries and country parks please visit Essex Council Council's Coronavirus website
Winter Support for Vulnerable Households
Plans to add Government Covid Winter Grant Scheme (CWGS) funds to existing funding to provide comprehensive support to vulnerable families and households are being announced on Friday 27 November 2020.
Essex County Council is wrapping a protective blanket around the most vulnerable this winter, providing warmth, food, emergency grants and support to residents hit by the pandemic.
A government winter grant of £3.8m is being added to £2.4m existing funding to see struggling families and adults through Christmas and the dark days of winter.
The blanket £6.2m package for December to March 2021 recognises the many ways the pandemic has affected people. It includes:
- Free school meals vouchers for all eligible children through the Christmas and half-term school holidays
- Winter warmth packages for vulnerable adults leaving hospital
- Emergency grants for food, heating, energy and water bills and essential household goods for people struggling to pay bills
- Home-Start packages for parents of 0-5 year old children, targeted at the most deprived wards across the county
- Support for carers and people with learning disabilities
- Christmas food and gift hampers for care leavers
- Grants for local community food initiatives nominated by local Essex County Councillors.
The package also provides funding to increase capacity and resource for food banks and food delivery projects, housing and debt advice, mental health, domestic abuse and drug and alcohol support. Both holiday hunger and activity programmes are set to be expanded further to reach even more vulnerable children and support their families.
How can residents access support and what do they get?
All the support will be delivered by existing services and agencies, such as Essex Essential Living fund, Essex Wellbeing Service, Adult and Children & Families Social Care services and voluntary organisations such as food banks, Citizens Advice etc.
- Emergency grants: Households struggling to pay food, fuel or water bills and for other essential household goods such as fridges or cookers can apply for an emergency grant from Essex Essential Living Fund (EELF). Anyone can apply but EELF will advise on eligibility and what they could get. Apply online or call 0300 7900124 between 8:45am - 5:00pm
- Free school meal vouchers: Families with children eligible for free school meals will receive food vouchers to the value of £15 per child per week for the two-week Christmas holiday and February half term. A distribution scheme is being worked out and will be decided on next week. More details will be provided to schools next week. We expect vouchers for Christmas to be sent to parents in the last week of term (14-18 December)
- Care leavers’ hampers: will be delivered to them by their social care worker. 930 care leavers will get a hamper worth £25 containing food, a £10 voucher and a small gift.
- Winter warmth packages for vulnerable people including people leaving hospital: winter warmth packs, guidance, fuel poverty, and adaptations for vulnerable people leaving hospital. Support can be accessed via your local CVS or Family Hubs.
- Food banks and food delivery: See here. Essex Association of Local Councils will distribute funding to food banks and projects. Project organisers should contact them here.
- Carers support: Refer people to this webpage.
- Learning disabilities support: Refer people to this webpage.
- Home start packages: Targeted winter warmth support for parents of 0-5 year olds in the 35 most deprived wards in the county. More details will be available next week.
Will local councils get any of the funding?
The Government has allocated the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to county councils and unitary authorities, under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003, to administer the scheme and provide direct assistance to vulnerable households and families with children particularly affected by the pandemic.
ECC will distribute funds directly to the providers it commissions.
The £280,000 additional support for food banks will be passed to Essex Association of Local Councils to administer, as they are currently administering the grants scheme for food banks.
Funding for grassroots clubs and activities for young people (announced on 5 November) will be passed to borough, city and district councils to distribute.
What is the Community food initiative fund? Who administers that and who is eligible for support from it?
Each Essex County Councillor will be able to nominate a local initiative in their division that helps residents pay food, energy, water bills and associated costs. Successful projects will get up to £2,000 each. The scheme is similar to the existing Locality Fund 2020/21 but can only fund projects that fit the criteria for the Winter Grants Scheme.
Interested organisations should contact their Division member here.
How is this different from the welfare support already announced?
The big difference is that the winter grant scheme provides £2.2m for free school meals for all children assessed as eligible.
Demand across all the services we are funding has increased through the pandemic so this will enable us to expand capacity in the food banks, Essential Living Fund and other services supporting the most vulnerable this winter
How many more people will this help?
Many thousands. We cannot put an exact number on it because each family or individual’s needs are different.
Is this a duplication of funding?
No but it does allow us to free up some of our other funding for other support.
Why is £0.7m unallocated at this stage? when will it be allocated?
We are holding this back until the new year to see where the greatest demand is and direct it then to where there is most need.
Will any of this go to meals on wheels?
We are providing £280,000 funding to foodbanks and community organisations who are supporting local communities most in need with the provision of food. This includes delivery projects and food parcels.
Essex & Suffolk Water
Essex & Suffolk Water are using additional PPE and taking extra precautions to make sure that our water and wastewater services are available 24/7.
You can find an update on their progress helping customers and the key ways they can support your community by downloading support for our customers.
A useful summary on where they have made a difference can be found by downloading our response to Covid-19.
"During this unprecedented time of disruption, the safety of our customers, our employees, and the people they may meet as part of their work activities, is our top priority. In particular, we are focusing our efforts on ensuring we take care of our more vulnerable customers and those with prepayment meters.
We are working closely with government, health organisations, the energy regulator Ofgem and consumer advice organisations to ensure we follow the best advice and we are as prepared as we can be. Please rest assured our priority remains keeping our customers on supply and helping people to stay safe and healthy."
- advice for customers here
Bounce Back Loans
Following changes announced by Government to the scheme, HSBC remain open to customers wishing to apply for Bounce Back Loans, as well as those looking to ‘top up’ their existing loan.
Top Ups are available to all customers who have previously applied for and received a Bounce Back Loan with HSBC UK and the amount borrowed was less than 25% of their stated annual turnover. An interest rate of 2.5% per annum applies to the Top-Up Loan. This is the same interest rate as the existing Bounce Back Loan, with no capital repayments required up to the date on which the capital repayment holiday on the customer’s existing Bounce Back Loan expires.
Customers wishing to apply for a Bounce Back Loan, or a Top Up can find out more details here.
No Fixed Address Service
HSBC UK has been working with charity partners to create a service in over 80 of our branches to open Basic Bank Accounts for people with no fixed address, who may not have the proof of identity and address documents they usually require to open an account. HSBC have recently launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the No Fixed Address service and to support the important work of our charity partner, Shelter.
More information about how to access the scheme can be found here.
Earlier this month, HSBC were delighted to announce their partnership with Young Money to launch a new Money Heroes financial education programme.
The programme aims to deliver a financial education to one million children ages 3 to 11 over the next three years. It will be available free to all teachers and parents across the UK, with facilitator-led teacher training and whole school consultancy available to support professional development.
Further information about the programme can be found here.
Partnering with BBC Children in Need to boost future financial literacy
HSBC have also teamed up with BBC Children in Need to deliver a new series of fun, easily digestible and age appropriate financial support and tools, which will be available through charity partners and our new financial education hub.
The programme will include digital lesson plans, infographics, glossary sheets, budget trackers, and short films featuring sporting heroes: Sir Chris Hoy, Kye Whyte, Nolli Waterman, Tim Henman and players from both the men’s and women’s teams at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The resources will make setting financial goals fun, engaging and educational. Additional learning resources are anticipated to follow.
Maintaining access to banking services
Currently 98% of HSBC UK branches remain open, with protocols in place to allow colleagues to help customers while maintaining social distancing. They have proactively contacted over 600,000 vulnerable customers and have received more than 1.4 million calls from key workers and vulnerable customers through our dedicated fast track service, providing support on account maintenance, managing money and online banking.
If you need to find the opening times or what services are provided for a specific branch, our online branch finder tool can be found here.
Lloyds Banking Group
"The entire Group has been mobilised to ensure that we continue to serve our customers. The financial and operational resilience we have built over the past decade means we can do our part to support the economy. We are collaborating with Government on a cross-industry basis to build the support schemes announced in recent days by the Chancellor, and are working to implement the measures announced so far. We are helping identify what further changes will be needed across the financial services industry to keep the UK working. This is in addition to the current support that we have already announced for our business and personal customers. Details of what the Group is doing to help can be found on our dedicated coronavirus web pages here."
Mid and South Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups
Patients/public - Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19 for the latest advice
Nat West Bank
Dedicated support lines
Our customers over 70 and those in isolation: We have created a dedicated support line for customers over 70 and those who are in a period of isolation. This dedicated line has been set up so we can help those most in need and is open 8am-8pm 7 days a week. Those who need it can call us on:
NatWest – 0800 051 4176
Royal Bank of Scotland – 0800 051 4177
NHS Workers: We have also set up an emergency customer care line for NHS workers. Our team of experts are ready to help with emergency banking support such as lending assistance and lost and stolen cards. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for our customers:
NatWest – 0800 046 2418
Royal Bank of Scotland – 0800 0466734
We understand that having the right information is very important during this time. So, we’ve made it easy for you to find out up to date information on our website:
- Question & Answer section for all our customers
- Steps we are taking to protect our staff
- International delivery updates
- UK delivery updates
UK Power Networks (UKPN)
"We want to reassure you that, as the company responsible for distributing power to over 8.3 million properties across London, the South East and East of England, we know how important it is to keep electricity flowing to your home or business, especially during these uncertain times. Our engineers are out as normal continuing their core role in maintaining your electricity network, and fixing any electrical faults that occur. We have put into place a number of well-rehearsed contingency plans and precautions to ensure we maintain a good level of service, with high numbers of engineers and call centre staff available to support the ongoing situation.
"We continue to offer free additional tailored support and guidance to customers on our Priority Services Register if they experience a power cut, reliant on electronic medical equipment or with young children. For more information on our Priority Services Register, please visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority to register, or call us on 0800 169 9970."
UKPN's latest advice can be found here