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Council leader outlines coronavirus response

Published Thursday, 19 March 2020

The Council leader, Councillor Keith Aspden, had made a statement to the Executive detailing city’s response to coronavirus.

The leader of City of York Council has outlined a coronavirus response, including business support and an emergency fund.

  • Council leader makes statement to Executive detailing city’s response
  • Council commits to emergency fund to support local residents, business and communities
  • Huge effort to deliver support package to businesses – including updating 4000 business rates accounts by the end of the week
  • Leader's wider statement (attached) covers support for children and families, how to volunteer and the importance of getting accurate information from trusted sources.

City of York Council has announced that it will create its own emergency fund to support local residents, business and communities in response to the outbreak of Coronavirus, whilst acting swiftly to make sure residents and businesses can access the Government’s support packages as swiftly as possible.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Keith Aspden, announced the fund at today’s Executive meeting (Thursday 19 March 2020), adding that fund will focus support to York’s residents, businesses and communities over the coming weeks, on top of any measures announced by the Government. Full details of the fund will be announced next week.

Councillor Aspden reiterated that the Council is continuing to work with the NHS and partners to respond to the outbreak of Coronavirus and that the Council is focusing resources where they are needed to ensure most services can continue to be delivered, with priority given to frontline services that keep our city moving.

Councillor Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:

It is abundantly clear that we are living in unprecedented times and dealing with exceptional circumstances. As a city, we must find our resolve and do everything we can to support those who need our help the most.

"We know that many people, partners and businesses across the city have already offered to help and that is why we have introduced a new structured volunteering scheme to harness this public spirit and ensure support is given to where it is needed most. Whether delivering food parcels, providing information, or sharing tasks like shopping or picking up medications, the health and safety of our residents is of the utmost importance and I would encourage those who can to register, train and engage with the volunteer scheme.

Further to this, we know many organisations are facing huge uncertainty, and we have to do as much as we can to protect incomes and livelihoods in such uncertain times. This is why we are working to introduce an emergency fund for to support our city. Details of this fund will be released next week, but its focus will be to support our residents, businesses and communities over the coming weeks, on top of any measures announced by the Government.

As ever, what is encouraging is the resilience and reaction of our city in the face of adversity. I cannot thank our staff, residents and communities enough for mobilising in response to the situation and for truly demonstrating how York can come together in times of crisis."

The Council has also given details of the extensive efforts to support businesses, the services they provide and the livelihoods they support, including:

  • collating all the available support for businesses on a single webpage york.gov.uk/BusinessSupport
  • manually amending around 4000 business rates accounts to stop direct debits and apply business rates relief to those sectors which qualify
  • creating a new process to administer small business grants
  • opening conversations with any commercial tenants who are likely to struggle in the coming weeks and months
  • protecting its own supply chain, honouring contracts wherever possible and working with contractors to redirect their services to meet the needs of York’s most vulnerable

Ian Floyd, Interim Head of Paid Service, said:

The Government’s initial £20bn support package is welcome and we are working exceptoinally hard to support businesses in accessing the new funding.

"Here in York, the retail, accommodation and leisure sectors, coupled with small businesses, are worth around £2bn to our economy and that is why the Council is urging the Government to process the available support as quickly as possible.

We will continue work with our LEPs and partners to be their voice talking to Government as they develop further packages, while considering every possible way we can support them and all our businesses locally.

Council staff have been adjusting and re-focusing their efforts to support our communities over the coming months, particularly to ensure our frontline services can continue to operate to keep the city moving. I would like to thank the fantastic response of our staff during this crisis, and we will continue to do what we can to support residents, businesses and communities across the city."

For all the latest advice, guidance and up to date information relating to Coronavirus, including details of how to volunteer (Covid-19) visit www.york.gov.uk/coronavirus.