The coronavirus pandemic has created a set of circumstances unlike anything seen in this country in recent times.
The impact across all aspects of life has been significant, changing the way services are delivered and putting our economy on hold.
Now, as we being the process of recovery, we do so with respect and sympathy for the victims of a disease that does not discriminate, and for their families and friends.
- Recovery and Renewal Strategy
- Coronavirus recovery in York
- Our coronavirus response
- Outbreak Control Plan
- Our Big Conversation
- The first year of recovery
Recovery and Renewal Strategy
At June’s Executive our Recovery and Renewal Strategy was approved.
The strategy sets out the approach we’ll take to shape recovery and renewal in York over the next year. It’s intended to help us:
- address immediate challenges
- identify opportunities
- work differently to support the city return to a ‘new normal’
A longer term 10 year recovery plan will also be developed with city partners to confirm the broader ambitions and direction for York.
We have produced a special issue of Our City to share our recovery plans, which will be distributed to all York’s households.
At York Business Week, in November 2020, we shared how we are working with city partners to accelerate our recovery: Building Blocks for a Speedy Recovery (Webinar)
Coronavirus recovery in York
The recovery phase puts public health at the heart of all decisions taken. Minimising infection and supporting those most at risk remains the highest priority.
To stay alert, control the virus, and save lives, you must follow advice from the government, the NHS and Public Health England.
We're still adapting how we deliver services at this time, and any changes to services will be advised through our communications and reflected on our website.
Our coronavirus response
Over recent months, in addition to Government support, we've prioritised resources to support the most vulnerable in the city, as well as investing over £2 million to create local emergency funds to support the city’s businesses and residents facing financial hardship.
As of the end of May 2020, the coronavirus impact and response has included:
- 93% of grants paid, the fastest in the country
- more than 6,000 businesses helped
- over £110 million grants and reliefs awarded
- daily contact with york care homes with advice and support
- number of people joining libraries quadrupled compared to the month before
- thousands of residents supported from our 9 community hubs
- over 23,000 volunteer hours deployed across 493 volunteer tasks
- 2 live Facebook Ask the Leaders question and answer sessions, with over 8,700 views and over 20,700 reached
- over 3,000 calls to the COVID-19 helpline
- at least 2,100 children provided which free school meals
- 5,000 weekly views for newspapers and online magazines on the Explore libraries online Press Reader
- £18,539 worth of food vouchers given to 130 vulnerable residents
- 84% fall in retail and recreation visits
- 56% drop in visits to parks
- 5 direct mail shots sent to all 96,000 households
- more than 1,500 emails to the COVID-19 mailbox responded to
- 87% of schools are open for vulnerable children and children of key workers
- increase of 141% in eBooks issued via Explore libraries
- over 2,700 help responses at the request of residents
- 876 food parcels delivered to residents
- more than 1,500 signed up to receive our council email updates
- over 325,000 visits to the council COVID-19 pages since April
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, commented
Local authorities up and down the country are facing significant financial challenges and here in York, we are no different. Following the Government’s promise to Council’s to give us everything we need to respond to the pandemic, I have since written to the Secretary of State to highlight that early estimates suggest that the Council is facing a £23 million shortfall.
“Over recent months, we have allocated considerable resources to support the most vulnerable and provide local emergency support funding to our local residents and businesses, in order to support those who fell through the cracks of Government schemes. However, due to the nature of the Council’s financial challenges, we are limited in our ability to continue this support on our own.”
“It is clear from our response to Coronavirus, that there are opportunities unique to York that many other cities would envy, from our biotech and educational sector, to the once in a lifetime regeneration opportunity of York Central. That is why we are calling on the Government to back York and seize the opportunities in the city that would enable us to lead the recovery in our region and across the North of England.”
“To lead these calls, the Council will be working with its partners, in local government, business and public health, to step up our lobbying programme and the case for York regionally and nationally.”
Coronavirus Outbreak Control Plan
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced the roll-out of the NHS Test and Trace programme.
As part of this response, each council with responsibility for statutory Public Health functions has been asked to lead the local approach, based around a Coronavirus Outbreak Control Plan.
Our Big Conversation
The impact of coronavirus has altered every aspect of our city and we have only a short window to join up the efforts of all of York’s residents, communities, businesses and institutions to achieve maximum impact in recovery.
There’s an ongoing need for quality engagement to deliver the council plan priorities and to meet the city’s major challenges such as:
- the climate emergency
- the future of our high streets
- future transport plans
- a new economic strategy
Given the complex issues which must be addressed through public conversations in 2020, it’s critical that our engagement:
- is consistent
- is accessible
- reflects a joined-up approach to policy
To support this, our engagement for recovery will take place through a single campaign: Our Big Conversation.
Our Big Conversation is crucial to recovery and will be taking place throughout the year, and will cover multiple strategies, projects and schemes.
By using this approach to engagement we will:
- increase and improve opportunities for you to engage with us
- reduce duplication of information
- build confidence in recovery by providing a continuous opportunity to contribute
- support better decision-making
- encourage more active citizens and resilient communities
The first year of recovery
The recovery activities will be managed under 3 strands:
- public health support
- adults’ and children’s services
The response to date has prioritised the health of York’s residents and the recovery phase will similarly put public health at the heart of all decisions taken. Minimising infection and supporting those most at risk remains the highest priority.
A community-based approach was approved at June’s Executive:
Public health guidance drives the decisions taken in respect of the economy. It must also be recognised that a strong economic recovery is necessary for the ongoing health and wellbeing of all residents.
Our 1-year COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan was considered at July’s Executive. It is comprised of 4 different strategies:
- Transport and Place Strategy
- Business Support Strategy
- York Tourism Marketing Strategy
- Skills and Learning Strategy (to be published at a later date)
Our Economic Recovery Plan is supported by the Let’s be York campaign, promoting the changes we are making to safely reopen the city.
All council services have been impacted by coronavirus and an initial priority will continue to be the reinstatement of services that have had to close or reduce in scale at a point that it is safe to do so.
This may be returning to the same ways of working as previously, but in most cases is likely to include some revisions to incorporate social distancing and build upon the lessons learned during the response to date.
This will constitute a significant programme of business change. Some reinstated services are likely to include some changes, in order to allow for social distancing and ensure the safety of residents and council staff.
The corporate recovery plan will detail how the council will continue to work with partners to lobby the government for additional funding, respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic, and facilitate further investment in the city.
Our staff are our best asset in making this wide scale change happen. To ensure council staff are supported during this time, there will be an organisational development plan to support staff in new or amended ways of working. This includes utilising more flexible working arrangements, with the right technology to enable staff to do so.
June’s Executive approved a new Organisational Development Plan to support delivery of the recovery and renewal strategy.