Friday, 3 April 2020

Royal Berkshire Hospital needs your help...

Dear all, please see below a message to Reading businesses and their employees sent on behalf of the Royal Berkshire Hospital by Reading Central and Abbey Quarter BIDs (Business Improvement District).

Many businesses in and around Reading have been forced to temporarily cease or restrict their operations due to coronavirus restrictions. At the same time many of you have been in touch with us to ask how you and your staff who are not able to work as normal can help with the response to the crisis.

The health and care system is facing particular pressure and the Royal Berkshire Hospital has identified a number of roles where help is urgently needed to provide additional resilience in the following areas:

Domestic (cleaning)
Catering staff
Welfare facilities
Management (operational and senior)

If you are a business or an individual in a position to help in these areas you can contact Covid.deployment& or call the hospital's coordinating team on 07500 835 565. The hospital is offering a range of paid casual working as well as volunteering opportunities.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Coronavirus: #rdguk council support on council tax

Green councillors have been lobbying for the council to take a caring approach to council tax at this tough time with Coronavirus at large. See below for the latest Reading Council position, correct on 2/4/2020 - web links at the bottom of the post:

"The Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the ability to spread payments over 12 rather than 10 months are measures already available in addition to statutory discounts, to assist residents who are experiencing difficulty with paying their Council Tax.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government have announced a Hardship Fund of £500 million nationally which is available to support economically vulnerable individuals and households, Reading will receive £953k. The Government have stated that they expect billing authorities to use this to provide all recipients of working age Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) with a further reduction to their 2020/21 council tax bill of £150. We expect to be able to rebill these residents within the next 14 days, as soon as we have received the software scripting.

Reading has a working age Council Tax Support case load of approx. 4,400, equating to £660k of the funding. The remainder of the fund allocated to Reading, £292k, will be used to support residents through our Hardship Policy.

It should be noted the Hardship Fund is in addition to the packages already announced nationally to support businesses with employee remuneration costs, increases to national benefits and cuts to waiting times as well as support for the self-employed.

Residents who are worried about meeting their council tax payments during the pandemic are encouraged to seek financial assistance through our council tax reduction scheme and to contact us to agree payment plans. We will discuss options with residents based on their individual circumstances, these may include:
  • reduced payments for an agreed period, with the balance due over the remaining months of the financial year
  • payment breaks where appropriate, with the balance due over the remaining months of the financial year
The Council has temporarily suspended court action for anyone in council tax, business rates or rent arrears and all existing cases with our enforcement agents have been temporarily suspended to avoid any unnecessary distress at this time.

Bills and reminders will continue to be issued and our enforcement agents will contact residents that fall into arrears with their enforcement arrangements, to either revise or suspend payments. This will avoid a ‘bottleneck’ when the current crisis is over and residents falling further into arrears as well as assist the Council’s cashflow. The Council’s enforcement agents will also offer welfare benefit advice, which will assist in reducing pressure of calls to our customer services team at this time.

We would encourage residents to continue to make affordable payments and those that are facing financial difficulty to contact the Council to discuss their options and agree an affordable repayment plan so that debts do not mount up and become unmanageable in the longer term."

More information here:

Or from the One Reading Coronavirus Hub: