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Maintaining Bradford's communities during coronavirus 'occupying all council's might'

The leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, has issued a sobering statement about the pandemic.

Financial compensation for Bradford businesses impacted by Coronavirus will cost £130 million – it has been revealed.

Today Bradford Council’s leader delivered a sobering message about the current Coronavirus pandemic, saying efforts to maintain communities and businesses in the district is occupying “all the Council’s might.”

The statement by Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe came on a day the Council announced it was closing household waste recycling centres and the Bradford registry office in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

She also urged residents to volunteer to help in the crisis.

Councillor Hinchcliffe said:

“We’re a sociable bunch in Bradford district, a welcoming place, so physical isolation doesn’t come easy. 

“But we absolutely must quickly adapt to physical distancing because lives depend on it. 

“Places we have always seen as happy, safe places are now places we need to avoid for fear of spreading the virus – theatres, museums, churches, mosques, play parks – all now closed. 

“The message from Prof John Wright, an epidemiologist working at Born In Bradford is clear. On Sunday he spoke to the media and said we had 48 hours to make a difference to the number of lives in Bradford which would be lost through this virus. 

“He implored us to Stay.At.Home.

“The Council and our partners have accelerated efforts to stop events, meetings and even weddings from happening. 

“Being a councillor, your usual task is to make positive things happen. 

“Even just a few weeks ago I would never have dreamed that I might spend my Saturday afternoon trying to find out where wedding celebrations might be happening and stop them! 

“And this week we have had to make further temporary changes to the way we live our lives. 

“We’ve had to cancel Citizenship ceremonies and weddings at City Hall. 

“We’ve had to close our household waste sites because of staff shortages.

“We’ve even had to reduce the number of people attending funerals to just 20 as long as two metre physical distancing is respected between the mourners. 

“Truly awful, but all necessary to make sure that the virus does not accelerate. 

“The big Effort to sustain our communities and businesses is occupying all the Council’s might. 

“Last Friday we wrote to all qualifying businesses telling them about the financial compensations which will be coming their way as a result of the Government announcements. 

“This is a huge undertaking to administer in a short space of time, and will cost approximately £130 million for Bradford district alone. 

“Council finance teams might not strike you as qualifying as a Key Worker in the fight against this virus, but if they weren’t working then we wouldn’t be able to get much needed financial support to businesses out of the door at speed.  They have been brilliant.

“Of course it’s not just the NHS and Council officers who are part of this big Effort but teachers as well. The Council’s Education team coordinated 205 schools so that they could open their doors to children of Key Workers and vulnerable children on Monday. 

“Without these teachers and support staff, public services wouldn’t be able to be sustained. And goodness, don’t we need them now more than ever?

“But residents can get involved too. 

“Our volunteer phone line is now open for you to register on 01274 431000. 

“Five area hubs are being established for each of the 5 Bradford district constituencies, these will support the food banks and the community action which is already happening. 

“1.5 million people in the nation have now received a letter saying they must stay inside for the next 12 weeks. 

“These hubs will be part of the infrastructure which will enable them to preserve their isolation. If you are fit and not in one of the vulnerable groups please sign up and we’ll get you trained up and involved, whilst protecting your own health and that of others.

“One of our big worries is for those people who work in what they call the ‘gig’ economy. 

“These are people who are on zero hours contracts or are self employed. So far the Government has not announced any financial support for this large group of workers who traditionally are low paid anyway. 

“If you are one of these then consider visiting the Council’s Universal Credit webpage at https://www.bradford.gov.uk/benefits/universal-credit/universal-credit/ and it will put in the right direction. It contains a link to the Department of Work & Pensions webpage which gives details about Universal Credit and the claims process. 

“You’ll also find information about claiming assistance with Council Tax payments through Council Tax reduction and claiming further help with housing costs through Discretionary Housing Payments.

“These are indeed extraordinary times. But we will work through this. 

“My neighbour came out of her house in her dressing gown late on Sunday night when she heard my car pulling up.  From over the fence she said, ‘you do know that in a lockdown we will share anything we have with you.’  That was simple and kind, something we will all need to rely on in the weeks and possibly months to come.”

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