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Over the current school closure, please contact your child’s class teacher by email if you have any queries about online learning. If you have any other concerns, please contact Meg Snedden, Acting Head Teacher, using the following email: meg.snedden@highland.gov.uk

Highland Council Covid-19 Helpline News

Busy first week for Council’s Covid-19 helpline

Since The Highland Council’s dedicated helpline went live last Wednesday afternoon staff have dealt with over 1,600 calls.

The helpline has been set to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support. In the first 7 days the majority of the callers have been seeking support for businesses, along with providing offers to volunteer. Already we have over 240 groups offering assistance.

The single line helpline – 0300 303 1362 – is open between 8am and 6pm and is staffed by volunteers from Eden Court and the Council. As well as directly assisting callers, staff, who are all home based, are also signposting people to other organisations that can provide help and assistance too. All calls are free.

The Council is encouraging people to also continue to use their online forms to make payments, report problems and request a service. There are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from www.highland.gov.uk

A council spokesman said: “The statistics for the first week show how busy our staff are. This is a helpline for customers requiring or offering support during the coronavirus situation.  If anyone has a query relating to other urgent council business, they should contact our Service Centre on 01349 886602 or continue to use on-line forms and resources as much as possible to ensure those most in need of assistance can be supported.”

If anyone receives a Sheilding letter from NHS requiring them to self- isolate for 12 weeks and they require support, they should contact the Council’s dedicated shielding helpline at 01349 886669 and if they require food support, they should telephone the number provided in their letter.

Highland Council Council Tax Reduction Scheme

01 April 2020

Help available for Council Tax payers

Council tax payers in Highland who have lost their jobs or are experiencing a drop in their income are being encouraged to apply as quickly as possible for a reduction in their council tax.

This help, known as the ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme’, is available for lower income households, including home owners.

The person named on the council tax bill can apply online using the Highland Council’s Apply Once form.  Applicants supply their details only once and the Council will automatically award a range of Council-administered benefits that the applicant is entitled to receive.

Council tax payers who live alone are also prompted to apply for a 25% single person discount using the Apply Once form which is available on the Council’s website at:

https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/701/council_tax/523/council_tax/4.

Council tax payers who are experiencing a reduction in their income and can make reduced payments to their council tax payment, are encouraged to pay as much as they can, when they can, to minimise the amount of council tax they will eventually have to pay.

There is no need to contact the Council if you are unable to make payments or will be making reduced payments to your council tax accounts, as the Council has suspended all action to recover unpaid sums.

The money the Council collects from council tax helps to provide vital services for local communities.  It is also being used to help support the Council’s humanitarian response to the coronavirus and will then be used to support the local economy through delivery of essential services for families, children and businesses.

Council tax payers whose income has not been impacted by coronavirus, or who can still afford to pay their council tax bill should continue to pay the full amount due each month.  The Council will continue to collect Direct Debit payments and payments can still be made in several ways, including online, via our automated payment line on 01349 886605 and by bank credit transfer.

Help, advice and support to complete application forms for all benefits and entitlements, including ways to reduce council tax, are available from the Council’s Welfare Team by emailing welfare.support@highland.gov.uk.

Highland Council update on business rate payments

01 April 2020

Billing pause for business rate payers in Highland

Around 19,000 business rate payers in Highland will not receive their annual rates bill this April.

The Highland Council recognises the exceptional economic challenges for local business and has therefore decided to pause business rates bills in respect of financial year 2020/21.

The decision to pause will be kept under regular review and is intended to help mitigate the impacts of coronavirus on local businesses and the local economy.

Supporting businesses in this way means that the business community does not have to worry about paying their rates bills for the time being.

This billing pause, together with the package of support available, is intended to provide businesses with sufficient confidence to retain their workforce and to focus on future trading as Government restrictions are kept under regular review.

More information relating to the package of available rates relief and business grants is published on the Council’s website at: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/2/business_rates/404/business_rates/8

The Council’s Budget Leader, Councillor Alister Mackinnon said:

“These are exceptional times, requiring exceptional measures.  The decision to pause business rates bills has been taken to ensure that local businesses and local jobs are protected while acknowledging the tremendous and selfless offers of support from local businesses for those impacted by coronavirus.

“We will continue to follow national guidance to deliver for businesses and our communities as best we can in these unprecedented times.”

 

Highland Council Public Spaces Guidance

31 March 2020

Stay at home guidance – parks, open spaces and public toilets

During this time of restrictions it is important that we all stay active, for our physical health and mental well being.

Recreation outside is an important element of this, but  it is essential that each of us practice good social distancing while outside. You should not travel to access the outdoors, and your time spent outside exercising should be done close to your home rather than travelling elsewhere.

Highland Council playground equipment is currently closed until further notice.  This decision was taken to reduce the potential for transference of the virus from surfaces.  As the playgrounds are closed, the equipment is no longer subject to safety inspections.

If you live close to a play park, the open space is still available to you, but please do not allow young ones to play on the equipment.  Please also observe social distancing as guided by government.

Highland’s landscape and natural beauty are exceptional, and facilities, including our public parks, are there to help residents and visitors enjoy these benefits.  However, during this unprecedented time, these facilities are essentially “out of bounds” to anyone who does not live within short walking distance.  Please do not travel to these locations.  Once the current restrictions are lifted we will welcome you back with open arms, but at the moment we ask that you comply with the national guidance and stay at home.

It has also been necessary to close all Highland Council-run public toilets throughout our communities for public safety, including play and public parks, so please be aware of that as you plan your activities out of doors and close to home.

Your help and understanding is essential at this challenging time.  It is only by us all working together, following Government advice, that we can defeat this, save lives and protect the NHS.

 

Textile Recycling Banks Closed

31 March 2020

Textile recycling banks closed across Highland

The Highland Council has added more change to its recycling advice today (31st March 2020).

The public are advised that until further notice, textile bank servicing by charities across the region has ceased or is severely disrupted due to staff shortages.

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “It may be tempting have a clear out while at home, but we urge people to follow the Government advice to protect yourself and others; to stay at home and only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons. The advice does not include trips to textile banks while shopping for food.

“Please help us to keep sites tidy by keeping your recycling at home with you until the service returns to normal, and to help protect our staff by avoiding unnecessary contact with potentially infected sources.”

Any material left on the ground at recycling sites will be treated as fly tipping and will end up in landfill.

This advice follows the earlier announcement on 25th March that all Highland Council run recycling centres are closed and garden waste and the bulky uplift services suspended until further notice.

For further information on rubbish and recycling during COVID-19 please visit www.highland.gov.uk/recycle

Highland Council update on supporting ‘at risk’ people in the community

30 March 2020

Highland communities helping people ‘at risk’ to protect themselves from coronavirus

The Highland Council is responding to the Scottish Government’s communication last week on “shielding” people ‘at risk’ from coronavirus.  People with specific health conditions which put them at higher risk of harm from the virus will receive letters from the NHS advising them they must self-isolate for 12 weeks to protect themselves and reduce the risk of hospital admissions.

Anyone receiving a “shielding letter” can contact the Council for support during their period of self-isolation.  People in this position may need different types of support and that might change during the 12 weeks. Some people may need no assistance at all because they have family or friends who can help.

Those seeking help are being asked to use the Council’s dedicated helpline at (01349) 886669 or complete a form online at www.highland.gov.uk/shielding to provide their contact details and the type of support they require.

The Council will gather the information about who needs support through a new virtual Community Hub that has been set up. This information will be passed to one of ten Local Community Hubs set up by the Council to get support to the people requesting it.

The Local Community Hubs will be in Nairn; Aviemore; Inverness; Fort William; Portree; Ullapool; Dingwall; Invergordon; Golspie and Wick.  They are not open to the public to ensure we comply with public health social distancing guidance.

The Local Community Hubs will co-ordinate activity to support people across Highland.  Staff from the Council and partner organisations will work alongside community groups to provide this local support.  Already over 240 groups have offered help and that number continues to grow.  Many groups are already providing an invaluable service to their communities.

We recognise that in addition to those individuals who have been advised by the NHS to self-isolate, there will be other people who need support.  This may be support now or in the coming weeks because people need to self-isolate or need additional help. Anyone requiring support during self-isolation can call the Council’s new helpline at 0300 303 1362 and select the ‘need help with welfare’ option.  We will prioritise support for those with shielding letters but will also help other vulnerable people.

If any further groups want to offer support to help people self-isolate, please fill in the on-line form at https://www.covidhelp4highland.org/volunteering.html or call the Council’s new helpline at 0300 303 1362 and select the ‘want to offer support’ option.  The Council is working closely with the Highland Third Sector Interface (HTSI) in co-ordinating all offers of help.

Individuals interested in helping local groups can fill in a form to register their interest  here https://www.covidhelp4highland.org/volunteering.html, or call the Council’s new helpline at 0300 303 1362 and select the ‘want to offer support’ option.

The Scottish Government are encouraging people to volunteer as well via a national helpline and the Ready Scotland website, through the British Red Cross (BRC). We are working closely with the BRC to link these Community Reserve volunteers in Highland with our local support network and Highland Third Sector Interface.

Advice for community groups:

A checklist on Ready Scotland website has advice for community groups that can be used by any group of people who want to help people in their community through the coronavirus outbreak in a way which is safe, sustainable and protects the vulnerable.

Follow advice – protect yourself and those you want to help

  • By protecting yourself and your family you are already supporting your community by reducing the spread of coronavirus.
  • Do not volunteer to help if you or a member of your household has symptoms.
  • Follow the appropriate isolation advice before resuming any volunteering activities, and check our guide on helping in your community safely.
  • All the latest evidence-based advice on protecting older and vulnerable people is on NHS Inform. Before you make any plans with your community, please ensure you are familiar with this advice.