From this date, outdoor sport facilities, such as golf courses, outdoor swimming pools and tennis and basketball courts, will reopen. People will also be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. Even though the Stay at Home message will also be lifted, people are being urged to stay local as much as possible and to continue to work from home where they can. It's also vital that we continue to wash our hands, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, and observe social distancing. Although the vaccination programme is going really well, and infection rates have dropped significantly, it is important that we are all continuing to take these important steps to keep ourselves and others safe.

I also want to remind local businesses to check to see if they are eligible for any of the Government grants that are available by visiting our website at: Business rates Announcements. This is really important because some of the support grants are due to close on 31 March 2021 - so please don't miss out. Our website details all of the grants and support that is available. To date, our team has issued more than £47 million in Government funding through business rate and discretionary grants to businesses in our district, which is great news. We just want to make sure that all of our local businesses have accessed the financial help that they are eligible for.

We are also aware that many people are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic. If this applies to you, we want you to know about all of the support that is available. From help with paying a Council Tax bill, to support with meeting rent payments, there are a number of ways in which we can help people who are struggling to pay their bills during this difficult time. You can find more information and useful links at: Help with finances affected by coronavirus, or contact our team by emailing benefits@chichester.gov.uk.

If you receive financial support from us and your income has changed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, please don't forget to let us know as you may be entitled to more support. You can update your details at: Change of circumstances. Anyone who is concerned that they may lose their home as a result of not being able to meet their rent or mortgage payments can also contact our Housing Advice Team by emailing housingadvice@chichester.gov.uk or calling 01243 534734.

In addition, further support is being made available to help economically vulnerable people to pay their Council Tax. Last March, the council was issued with £699,000 of Government funding to help those experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19 to pay their council tax. As a result of having Government funds available, the council is providing extra support for the financial year 2021-22. All eligible residents will have received a further £150 credited to their Council Tax bill, and residents in receipt of Council Tax Reduction with a balance of less than £150 for the year 2021-22 will have received the amount outstanding. Those in receipt of Council Tax Reduction with zero Council Tax to pay will not receive a payment.

What's important for you to know is that we are here to help and we are doing everything we can to support our residents and businesses through this challenging period. We have dedicated coronavirus web pages on all of the advice and support available at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and we would encourage you to sign up to our weekly email newsletter which provides the very latest updates.

Take care and keep safe

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council