Covid-19
This note provides an update on the information posted on this blog yesterday (26.3.20).

Key messages for today

  • We’re offering a flexible approach to council tax payments for people financially affected by Covid-19.
  • If your children are entitled to free school meals, you can collect ‘grab and go’ packed lunches from one of 10 sites.
  • We’re suspending the introduction of the new garden waste collection scheme, and will continue to collect everyone’s garden waste for free for as long as we can. If you’ve already paid the £25 fee, you’ll still get a full 12 months service from when the scheme begins.
Ian Bancroft – Chief Executive
Mark Pritchard – Leader of the Council

The impact of Covid-19 on jobs and businesses is clear, and we know this is a worrying time for many people…not just in terms of health, but financially too.

Tax plays a vital part in keeping crucial services running in communities across the UK, but we know that many people will really struggle to pay their council tax in the current situation.

So for those people financially affected by the virus, we’re offering a sympathetic and flexible approach to council tax over the next three months.

We hope this helps those households who are facing real financial hardship.

The details are outlined further down this article.

If you can pay, please continue to pay as normal. This will help us maintain vital services during this emergency.

Please continue to keep your distance from one another and follow the Government’s instructions. By staying apart, we’re saving lives, and helping to keep Wrexham as safe as it can be.

We’ve put together the following information to help you understand the latest changes to council services.

A sympathetic approach to council tax

A flexible approach for people financially affected by Covid-19

We know that recent events have put some people in a position where they can’t make their normal payments.

The Government hasn’t directed councils to provide a mandatory ‘payment holiday’ on council tax, but we appreciate these are exceptional times, and will work with customers to help ease any financial difficulties.

We will make sure no recovery action is taken against households who’ve been financially affected by coronavirus, and can’t afford their council tax payments over the next three months (April-June).

This will give those customers time to look into any financial help they’re entitled to – including council tax benefit.

However, those who are able to pay are expected to continue to pay their council tax as normal. This will help us to maintain vitally important services during this emergency.

Apply for council tax benefit

During this three month period, you can make an application for council tax reduction (benefit) based on your household income.

If your income is low enough, you’ll receive help towards your council tax. To request an application form, email housingbenefits@wrexham.gov.uk

If you want to discuss an ongoing claim for benefit, you can contact our benefits team on 01978 292033 – but please contact us by email wherever possible.

Can’t pay all of your council tax?

It takes time for a benefit assessment to be completed, and you might find you’re not entitled to full council tax benefit.

So where possible, we recommend customers financially affected by coronavirus make nominal (reduced) council tax payments over the next three months.

If you’re currently paying by direct debit, you might want to amend or cancel this with your bank, if you’re worried the payments will place you in financial hardship.

Once the three-month period is over, hopefully you’ll be in a better position financially, and you should contact us at this time to discuss your options.

You’ll need to email counciltax@wrexham.gov.uk in June, or telephone 01978 298992 (please contact us by email wherever possible).

GET THE LATEST COVID-19 INFORMATION FROM PUBLIC HEALTH WALES

Waste and recycling

Reminder – garden waste

We were due to implement a new garden waste collection service in April that residents would have to pay for each year.

We’re now suspending the introduction of that service, and will continue to collect everyone’s garden waste for free for as long as we can.

We’re unable to issue any refunds, but if you’ve already paid the £25 you’ll get a full 12 months service from when the scheme begins…so you won’t lose out. You don’t need to contact us, as we have a full record of customers who’ve paid so far.

To help ease pressure on our Contact Centre staff, we won’t be taking payments for the new scheme until further notice, and will only be handling enquiries for critical services.

If you haven’t already paid, don’t panic. We’ll start taking payments again when the emergency is over, and we’re in a position to introduce the new service.

Easing pressure on our Contact Centre staff is really important, as people with underlying health conditions will be receiving letters from the Government in the next few days, and some of them will need to contact us for support.

So it’s important our staff are available to help them.

If you do need to contact us, please email contact-us@wrexham.gov.uk or visit our website.

Schools

Free school meals

We’re working hard to try and provide free school meals to children who aren’t in school at the moment.

If your children are entitled to free school meals, you can collect ‘grab and go’ packed lunches on normal school days from one of the following sites.

  • Caia Park Estates office
  • Plas Madoc Estates office
  • Broughton Estates office
  • Gwersyllt Estates office
  • Rhos Estates office (Stiwt)
  • Memo Hall Wrexham
  • Plas Pentwyn Coedpoeth
  • Llay Resource Centre
  • Overton Library (Cocoa Rooms)
  • Ysgol Y Waen Chirk

You can go to the nearest site.

The packed lunch must be collected between 11.30am and 1pm by a parent or carer.

You’ll need to give staff the name of your child / children and the school they attend, and you’ll only be able to collect a packed lunch for your own child / children.

Please continue to follow social distancing measures…maintaining your distance from other people.

Business support

The Government has set out a package of measures to help businesses – including people who are self-employed – through this period of disruption.

You can find information on the UK Government website.

Volunteering in Wrexham

There’s been some confusion following the Government call for 250,000 volunteers to support the NHS, and the app that people can use to register.

Please note this is an England-only scheme and doesn’t apply in Wales.

The volunteer scheme operating in Wrexham is run by AVOW and you can register online.

Reminder – key changes to council services

Here’s a quick recap of some of the other changes we’ve made in the past week in response to Covid-19.

  • We’re only providing critical council services now. These are things we’ve identified as absolutely crucial to our communities and the running of the council.
  • Charging in all of our public car parks has been suspended. This is only to help workers providing critical services, and people leaving the house to do essential food shopping in line with the Government’s instructions.
  • Our public footpaths remain open, but please adhere to social distancing, as we don’t want to close footpaths.
  • All council-managed play areas have been shut.
  • You can only call our housing repairs team if you have an emergency (01978 298993). You can still report non-emergency repairs via My Council House or by emailing housingrepairs@wrexham.gov.uk
  • From Monday, March 30, home-to-school transport will be suspended until further notice across the county borough. SEN (Special Education Needs) home-to-school transport will continue.
  • The impact of coronavirus has affected our planning and building control services. The Planning Committee scheduled for April has been cancelled.
  • We’ve offered our commercial tenants and market stall holders a three-month ‘holiday’ period on rent and service charge payments if they’ve been affected by the current situation.

Reminder – reliable sources of information about Covid-19

Latest information on the virus and what people should do about it is provided by:

This is a rapidly changing situation, so we will issue further information as and when appropriate.

Read the most up-to-date information about Covid-19.

LATEST INFO ON COVID-19

Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) – public briefing note 26.3.20