At the moment, the focus is on vaccinating residents and staff in care homes for older people, those aged 80 and over, and frontline health and care staff. I'm sure that you will have seen that the Government has announced that once services have vaccinated the majority of people in these groups, they have the flexibility to offer vaccinations to the next two groups - those aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable people. This will help to keep up the pace of the vaccine roll-out and ensure that no vaccination appointments are unused.

It has also been announced that the vaccine will also be delivered at high street pharmacies. Boots, Superdrug and several independent stores will be the first of hundreds of community pharmacies to offer vaccinations. We've been told that in Sussex, the first community vaccination services are due to come online in the next fortnight, which is great news!

Some people will also start to receive a letter from the national booking service inviting them to book appointments at the large scale vaccination centres. The Sussex centre is about to open and some residents in the North of the district may have even received invitations to attend the Epsom Racecourse vaccination centre that went live last week. We'll start to see more large-scale centres and pharmacy-led vaccination services come online, and when they do, these will be added to the national booking system. The NHS has released a really useful video which explains how you will be contacted and what happens if you miss your appointment.

What is concerning, is the news that there have been reports of a vaccine scam in the county. Some scammers are asking people to send them their financial details to pay for vaccines. This will never happen and in the UK the vaccines will only be available through the NHS. You must always remember that the NHS will never ask for your bank account, card details, your PIN or banking password. They will also never arrive unannounced at your home and they will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents.

I also want to update you on some of the activities that we have been leading on. Alongside our charity partners, we are working hard to support all rough sleepers in the district during the continuing pandemic by providing accommodation, food and support. At the end of last year, I'm pleased to tell you that we secured a £60,000 Government grant. Out of this, £32,000 will be used towards temporary accommodation for rough sleepers during the pandemic, and £28,000 will go to local homeless charity, Stonepillow, to extend their Housing First team. This is a project that provides support to the most vulnerable rough sleepers, by enabling them to set up a new home for life and access the wider services that they need. We have also successfully applied for a larger grant amounting to £400,000, which has gone to Stonepillow to expand their accommodation. Our Rough Sleeper Outreach workers continue to work with our partners to offer lots of support to rough sleepers. Our officers were even out every day over the Christmas period carrying out welfare checks. I want to thank our team and our partners for the amazing work they do to support rough sleepers.

Another key priority for us is supporting our local businesses. New grant schemes are now open for applications from eligible retail, hospitality and leisure business in the Chichester District. If you own a business in the district, please visit our website to see if you are eligible and to apply: Coronavirus support for businesses. This new Government support includes one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that are required to close during the current lockdown. These grants are worth £4,000, £6,000 or £9,000 per property depending on rateable value. There is also a grant scheme available for businesses that are not required to close but are still affected by the current national lockdown.

A range of other business support schemes are still open for businesses that have been affected by the national lockdown in November 2020 and last year's tier restrictions. If this applied to your business, I really would urge you to find out if you are eligible and apply for all of the currently available grants here: Coronavirus support for businesses. We also want to remind you that we are still issuing our business recovery grants, which you can find more about here: COVID-19 recovery grants.

Please stay safe and take care.

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council