Council’s coronavirus helpline answers 1,600 queries in seven days

Photograph: Wikipedia

Forty-five emergency applications for help from a hardship fund set up to help York residents were received in just seven days.

And City of York Council’s coronavirus helpline answered 855 phone calls and 759 emails since it was launched last week.

These 1,600 requests for help were responded to by 750 volunteers.

Data shows a significant number of people have already been in touch with support services the council has set up to help residents and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

By April 1, 23 applications to the York Financial Assistance Scheme (YFAS) emergency hardship fund had already been paid out – to a total value of £2,440. The fund aims to help people with bills when they are struggling.

In the past week the local authority has also had 199 applications for help to pay council tax.

Numbers set to rise

Cllr Danny Myers

Cllr Danny Myers praised the response of council staff to the pandemic – and warned that requests for help could rise.

He said: “The response from council officers to the coronavirus outbreak has been fantastic and these figures show the hard work being put in on the frontline.

“Inevitably these numbers will increase significantly in the coming weeks so it’s important the back office planning takes place now to prepare for this.

“We do remain concerned about the speed with which a city-wide information leaflet is being distributed to every home in the city, with many still not having received it. This task needs completing urgently, switching to Royal Mail if necessary, so all residents are clear on the help available.”

He added:

  • I would also urge people to communicate with people they know in our city in any way possible, other than in person, to check in on them and let them know about the help that is available from the council and other organisations locally.

    Think about who lives on your street and if there is a safe way to do so, communicate with them to check that they are OK.

More than 2,800 volunteers have already signed up to help – and further applications to the hardship fund are also being processed.

The council launched a £1.25m fund to help residents struggling with bills during the pandemic.

Residents receiving council tax support will also get £150 off their bill for the coming year.

Anyone in need of help can email [email protected], or telephone 01904 551550.