Emergency COVID-19 - Council update
During this emergency situation - as the Council works with its key partner organisations to support all communities across the County - Councillor Ian Roberts, Leader of the Council and Colin Everett, Chief Executive would like to thank the residents of Flintshire for their continued support and patience at this time.
We are aware there has been some confusion over Council Tax and whether people still need to pay it. Some people are experiencing difficulties and are worried they cannot make their payments. The Council is able to offer support and advice if you find yourselves in this situation. If you qualify and you are in need of advice and assistance you can contact our Council Tax team on 01352 704848 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit our website flintshire.gov.uk/CouncilTax.
Please be aware that call volumes are very high and we are receiving large numbers of emails. We appreciate this may be frustrating for you. The large majority of people trying to contact us understand the situation and are being patient and respectful with our employees. We would like to ask all callers to be mindful of this.
Many people can still afford to pay their Council Tax. Council Tax is a local tax that raises a third of the Council’s total income. In this emergency situation the Council Tax you pay is helping to fund the essential services we must continue to provide to support people and communities. The Council has prioritised essential services where they protect life, protect the vulnerable, ensure public safety, keep the transport infrastructure open and help key workers to do their job. These services include:
- running residential care homes
- supporting vulnerable adults in their homes and in care settings
- providing domiciliary care for people in their own homes
- helping people discharge from hospital to ‘free up’ hospital beds
- supporting vulnerable children in their homes and in care settings
- running Extra Care Housing Schemes
- helping and accommodating the homeless
- paying out housing benefits
- giving welfare advice to those in need of support with their family income
- food distribution for people in need and those in poverty
- opening schools as childcare centres for the children of key workers
- public protection and environmental health including food safety and animal welfare
- collecting waste from households
- keeping the highways network open and running
- keeping cemeteries open
- registration of births and deaths
- support to small and medium sized local business and giving them emergency grant support on behalf of Governments
Any decisions on temporary changes to the collection of Council Tax would need to be made by Governments. The Council simply collects the Tax.
Fees and Charges and Refunds
We are also receiving a number of enquires where people have subscribed for services for which they pay - and these services have been temporarily withdrawn. Most of these enquiries are about the garden waste service. We are hoping that we will be able to reinstate this service later in the year and we are currently looking at a potential reduction in the 2021/22 garden waste charge which will be proportionate to the length of the temporary suspension this year.
Where marriage and civil ceremonies have been cancelled they will – where possible - be rescheduled for a later day. Where this is not possible a refund will be offered. This will also apply to the cancellation of bookings for facilities and meeting and activity rooms for example.
We will provide more information on fees and charges and refunds once they have been finalised.
These are anxious times for us all and our workforce shares the worries and concerns that you yourselves will have.
We need to respect and value the public sector workforce at this critical time.
The NHS workforce are quite rightly being praised and honoured for their dedication and work. They are not the only ones who are keeping the country running and keeping people safe and well. The Council has its own ‘army’ of key workers who are also contributing to the effort by providing essential services to local people and communities.
The large majority of local residents and customers are being patient and co-operative with us as we temporarily close certain non-essential services and redeploy our workforce to support those services which are essential. Sadly, a small minority of callers into our Contact Centres have been aggressive and at times abusive. Examples include Council Tax payers expecting a Council Tax ‘holiday’ because a local service such as a library has been temporarily closed. Behaviour of this type is unacceptable.
We appeal for good and caring conduct. We too have a depleted workforce with employees absent because they themselves are ill, are self-isolated, or are at home caring for their children because their partner is a key worker.
On behalf of the Council we would urge everyone to stay safe and follow the guidelines which have been put in place.