Coronavirus: Eastbourne and Lewes councils update

A grant scheme to support businesses in Eastbourne and Lewes hit by the coronavirus crisis went live on Thursday morning (April 9) at 9am with payments to eligible businesses following once registered and the information they supply is validated.

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 3:37 pm
Coronavirus infographic for web SUS-200326-085313001

Eastbourne council says that subject to eligibility, grants of £10,000 or £25,000 are available to local SMEs.

A council spokesperson said, “Letters and emails will be sent to businesses to confirm the system is live and signpost them to a dedicated area on the council website - www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk

“The launch was delayed by the government making numerous changes to the guidance for implementing the scheme, meaning each payment system had to be reconfigured by the council.

“Council officers have worked tirelessly to provide businesses with an automated system that will speed the process up and ensure grants are received more rapidly.”

Service updates include:

* Council customer contact centre received 148 requests for assistance on Monday (April 6) as a result of Covid-19. The council received 907 requests for support to date. The types of requests include assistance with food and shopping, medication and befriending.

* The community hub has ramped up the packaging of food parcels and their distribution. Some 4,500 boxes have been packed so far and after various distributions 3,150 remain in stock. Notably, 550 have been distributed to foodbanks. To help people over the Bank Holiday weekend, the council has also arranged for fresh fruit and vegetables to accompany the food parcels.

* Customer contact advisers will be answering Covid-19 calls and emails between 10am and 4pm on Good Friday, Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday. Neighbourhood First officers will also be on standby to deliver emergency food parcels.

* The council’s rough sleeper initiative team continues to do incredible work across both authorities, Since March 18 the team has found accommodation for 50 rough sleepers in Eastbourne and 9 in Lewes district. The current number of rough sleepers in Eastbourne (April 6) is 10 and three in Lewes district. The council is working closely with the voluntary sector to provide support packages and shopping deliveries to those placed. This will ensure those who were rough sleeping are offered support in line with social isolation guidance.

* The council says it moved very quickly to activate contingency plans and a key strand of the response was preparing for staff redeployments across business critical areas. The council undertook assessments of skills and experience and have been overwhelmed with the flexibility staff have shown in their agreement to change roles.

The benefits team has been boosted by redeploying former benefits assessors who have the necessary expertise, but have recently been working in different roles.

The regeneration team is now focused on business grants and has welcomed five members of democratic services to work with them.

Staff from the council’s theatres are packing food parcels for the most vulnerable.

Tourist information advisers have joined customer contact team to staff the new Covid-19 email and telephone support line,

A council spokesperson said, “With the number of calls and emails increasing significantly every day, the customer contact centre has been reinforced with staff from across numerous different service areas.

“Vulnerable tenants received weekend calls from a bank of 20 volunteer staff, this in addition to the usual daily welfare calls they are receiving.”

Updates and latest news is being posted regularly on Twitter @LewesDC and @EastbourneBC

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