Like the rest of the country, Falkirk Council is now operating in emergency mode.
In line with Government instructions, many of our employees must now stay at home and others are self-isolating or unwell. As a result some of our non-essential services have had to be suspended temporarily to enable the most critical of services to be delivered.
The welfare of all Falkirk residents is our top priority. Our health and social care teams are continuing to provide care at home and in our care homes, as well as taking an active role in supporting the NHS response.
We know many households will be hit financially by the impacts of this epidemic.
In anticipation of this we propose to bring forward rent-free periods and to set up a hardship fund to support people following the rent free period.
We also propose to let all Council Tax payers know they will not be pursued if they do not meet their council tax instalments on April 1 and May 1 and we have already agreed to the suspension of evictions including suspension of new and ongoing court applications.
Anyone who has concerns please contact Falkirk Council’s finance service which will be still be able to provide advice and assistance while staff are working from home.
The council is about to launch a support for people service where the team will identify support needs and, in partnership with other agencies, CVS, Health and Social Care Partnership and Community Learning and Development, ensure support is provided.
This will include provision of food, medicines and basic supplies or services.
The service will go further than just providing support to the most vulnerable and will be available across our communities to those who need it most.
Priority will, however, be given to those identified by the Health Service as the most vulnerable.
A dedicated freephone helpline will be available for people to contact the team by the end of this week as will more detail on what will be provided.
I would also acknowledge the overwhelming offer of help from our communities, many of who are already providing packages of support to elderly and vulnerable people within our communities, and thank them for setting the bar.
We must however remember that we will need to continue to provide support within our communities for a sustained period of at least 12 weeks. Therefore we will require to refresh our volunteer base in order to continue to meet the anticipated demand.
Anyone wishing to offer their services should contact CVS and register.
Finally, I want to thank all our staff for their continued efforts but particularly those who are out there on the front line and those working directly with the public without whom we could not continue to deliver critical services that maintain the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.
It must be hard to do so when others are able to work from the comfort of their own home but your continued dedication and commitment will be required and will be very much appreciated during this challenging period.
Stay home, only go out for essential supplies, exercise, or work, save lives, stay safe, be kind and look after each other.