Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP) available now

23 March 2020

Any resident who requires help and support getting back into employment as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus situation, please contact Cheshire West and Chester Council's Work Zone team for advice and support. The Work Zones are aiming to match the skills of people looking for work with the requirements of local businesses.
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth said: “There is understandable worry across the country as the measures to tackle the Coronavirus increase, the situation in the workplace is changing daily and some businesses have closed or they are reducing their workforce. 

“We are doing everything we can to support our residents through this period, whether you are looking for a new job, need advice for your own business, or help with council tax or benefits issues, our services can help.” 

The Government has announced £7 billion of additional support to households through housing benefit, tax credits and Universal Credit.  
The Chancellor announced the creation of a Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme to provide grants to employers covering 80 per cent of employee salaries up to £2,500 per month for those who aren’t working but kept on the payroll, rather than being laid off. 

This scheme is open to any employer in the country and administered by HMRC and will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March for at least three months. There is no limit on the funding available for the scheme. Universal Credit standard allowance will be increased by £1,000 for the next year and the Working Tax Credit basic element as well. People who are self-employed will also be able to access Universal Credit if they are out of work. 

The Council has a legal responsibility to collect council tax but for anyone feeling under pressure during this time email: counciltax@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk to confidentially discuss the circumstances so that options to help can be offered. 

The Council’s Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP) team can provide assistance with food or fuel for vulnerable people in crisis. The advice is to apply for help through Get HELP online instead of telephoning. This means that the HELP phone lines are reserved for vulnerable people who cannot apply online. This will not affect the time it takes to respond, as staff working at home are prioritising these applications. Please only telephone the HELP number if you are vulnerable, with no access online and are experiencing a crisis now.  If this applies, please call: 0300 123 7065. 

This team is also helping with Free School Meals, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction applications. No difficulties are anticipated in processing these applications as the team of homeworkers are working on these as they arrive.
  
The Councils Customer Services Offices: The Forum Office, Chester, Ellesmere Port Customer Service Centre, Frodsham Library, Neston Library, The Arcade, Northwich and Wyvern House, Winsford are now closed following the government health guidelines for Coronavirus, they can still be contacted via email and telephone.
 

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