Leader of Warwick District Council Andrew Day
Tributes this week to the frontline workers who have sadly lost their fight against coronavirus, highlight the selfless sacrifices being made to keep us safe and ensure our daily lives continue.
While we don’t yet know the true cost of this pandemic, we can already see that it will be considerable and far reaching, touching the lives of every resident, today and in the future. Lives lost to the virus can be counted, but the true loss will never properly be measured. Others lost because of the economic impact of this virus will be more difficult to count, but no less painful to bear.
We recognise that Warwick District Council was established to provide high quality public services. Every part of our organisation is straining to help diminish the pain so many in our community are bearing. All our resources are being deployed, so whatever pain you may be bearing during this difficult and testing time, you are not alone - your Council is doing all that it can to help you, your business and your communities. We have dedicated all our assets, our staff and our finances to this end. We are in this fight together.
Your Council, like so many families, businesses and community organisations across the district, has some tough financial choices ahead. In a nutshell, each year it costs some £19m to provide this Council’s core services, with around half being funded from your Council Tax and the balance coming from charges, fees and other income generating activities.
The financial impact of this emergency on your Council is projected to be some £4m this year and while Government grants of £1.46m are helpful, we are now forced to deploy our existing financial resources to meet immediate needs. To be clear, on this basis it will not be Westminster that is picking up the bill for this Council’s proactive response to the coronavirus emergency, it will be you, not just in this financial year, but for many years to come.
Investing in the recovery
We recognise that Warwick District Council plays a key role in the local economy and must now step-up to provide further support for the Recovery phase, which we will do by:
- Paying £27m so far, in 2,100 grants to hard hit local businesses across the district.
- Launching a £250k Emergency Grant Fund scheme to help support community organisations, which are experiencing short-term financial hardship or adapting their services in response to the emergency. (More details to be announced shortly).
- Fast-tracking capital investment in local housing, infrastructure and community projects, by taking advantage of the Council’s prudential borrowing capacity.
In addition, later this month you will receive a revised Council Tax bill, which reverses and refunds the Climate Action Fund precept. This new bill also allows us to provide for those already in receipt of Council Tax support and who may become eligible, with an extra £150 in further relief. Information on the help that is available for residents who are struggling to pay their Council Tax can be found here.
Getting on with it
Most Council services continue, albeit in a different way.
- The Bereavement Services team are amongst the most affected by the ongoing coronavirus emergency. With social distancing restrictions allowing no more than six mourners to attend a funeral, it has been the staff based at Oakley Wood Crematorium who have been helping residents who are unable to give their loved-ones the service or arrangements they wanted. Now thanks to the work of the Council’s ICT Service, guest Wi-Fi has been installed at Oakley Wood, allowing those unable to attend a cremation service to view the funeral online.
- The Shielding Hub team shared a video this week (see here), which gives a first-hand view of the great work being done by our staff, sharing responsibility for this vital service with colleagues from county council, voluntary organisations and local businesses providing support for our most vulnerable residents.
- The ICT team continue assisting hundreds of our Council officers working remotely online. Efforts are now focusing on enabling our Councillors to attend committees and key meetings online, so timely decisions can be made and council business progressed as before.
We were delighted to receive this thank you letter here from the Government, sent to our Town and Parish Councils recognising all that they are doing, often behind the scenes. It is humbling to witness the many personal sacrifices and selfless acts being made for the benefit of others across the district.
Finally, one year since this Council was elected, we’d like to pay tribute to the efforts of all political groups to come together and work for the common good. While this was not the year we’d envisaged, through our collaborations a shared vision has been fostered which will no doubt serve our community well in the future
Leader, Warwick District Council