E-Bulletin from 14 April 2020

Information published on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it is affecting our services.

Business support on its way

West Lothian Council, to date, has received over 1,000 applications for small business grants of £10,000 and a further 183 applications for retail, hospitality and leisure sector grants of £25,000.

More help is available through Business Rate Relief, which was announced by the Scottish Government several weeks ago. All businesses will receive a 1.6% relief for 2020/21. In addition to this all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive 100% relief from rates for 2020/21. Businesses should note that the council will issue their annual Business Rates bill electronically for those who have signed up to e-billing. However, nearly 40% of businesses still haven't signed up to e-billing so their paper bills will be issued to the address we have on their rates account.

Businesses can still sign up for e-billing by emailing:  businessrates@westlothian.gov.uk quoting their Business Rates account number and the email address they want their bill to be sent to.

More information on business support is available here on Coronavirus Business Support Fund.

Funding package to support those in need

Help and assistance is being provided to West Lothian residents and community groups as the COVID-19 emergency takes its toll on the local community.

West Lothian Council is delivering a series of financial support measures across nine separate programmes. The funding will be spent on assistance to individuals and third sector/community groups and community councils. The council will receive nearly £1.7m from the national COVID-19 hardship fund. 

The council will allocate nearly £1.7million across the following programmes:

  • An increase to the Scottish Welfare Fund to provide crisis grants for people experiencing hardship (£400,000)
  • Third Sector Hardship Funding to enable the sector to support vulnerable individual and families, especially the elderly and people with disabilities  (£327,000)
  • An increase Discretionary Housing Payments (£300,000)
  • Additional school clothing grants to all families receiving council tax reduction support (£200,000)
  • An increase in the Community Food Grant. This will assist local community food groups in covering increased costs they will incur over the next three months  (£150,000)
  • Increased social care payments to help vulnerable families. These cover a range of needs including fuel and payments for food (£120,000)
  • Increased self-directed support payments for families with children with complex disability that will enable families to increase provision of personal carers (£110,000)
  • Increased Scottish Welfare Fund to provide  - additional Home Items (£50,000)
  • Purchase of play materials for identified vulnerable families to support 1,000 families through provision of play materials or, where this is not practical £30 vouchers (£30,000)

£327,000 funding package for Third Sector groups

West Lothian Council is offering additional funding to West Lothian Third Sector groups to help them support local vulnerable people during the COVID-19 emergency. The council has set aside over £320,000 to help Third Sector groups in West Lothian. This includes local charities, community groups, community councils, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. The council is keen to hear from all groups but particularly those who support the elderly and people with disabilities.

For further information please visit Third Sector Resilience Fund .

Support for People 

Demand for support packages such as Crisis Care Grants and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme is increasing significantly week on week in West Lothian as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

West Lothian Council staff have dealt with a huge increase in calls across all of the main areas of support:  benefits (mostly Universal Credit), temporary and zero-hour contracts, sick pay, furloughed workers, money & debt worries, energy and housing. Last week there were over 1,000 enquiries made to the council's Advice Shop, which was over a third more than the previous week.  Anyone in need of financial assistance is advised to contact the council's Advice Shop. The service is and will remain available via the telephone 01506 283000 or email at: advice.shop@westlothian.gov.uk

Information on all the above schemes is available at: Advice Shop and Macmillan @ West Lothian

Scottish Welfare Fund

The council has increased the Scottish Welfare Fund allocation by £400,000 to meet demand. The Fund provides a safety net for vulnerable people on low incomes by providing Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants. Scottish Welfare Fund awards are not loans, so they don't need to be paid back. The grants are designed to help people who are on a low income, so you can apply even if you don't claim benefits

To apply and find out more visit Scottish Welfare Fund.

Update to Registration Service

All face to face registrations have been cancelled until further notice.  Remote registrations are now taking place. There is no need for a customer to contact Registration Service to register a death. 

This new process will now mean that when an individual has passed away, the health service will notify the Registration Service who will then contact next of kin to complete the registration by phone.

Please note the registration of marriages/civil partnerships and births is still suspended until further notice. Further guidance will be issued on these subjects in due course.

School meals and keyworker childcare to continue over Easter period

The provision of school meals and care for children of keyworkers is continuing over the Easter period.

School meals are continuing at a number of West Lothian Schools across the Easter holiday break (Monday 6 April - Friday 17 April). All children entitled to free school meals will receive a packed lunch or can pick up a takeaway hot meal and a breakfast cereal bar/cereal. Serving staff will ask all pupils if they have any allergies. You or your child must inform school staff if this is the case.

Further information on the provision and the list of all participating schools is available on the West Lothian Council website. Visit: School meal provision to continue

Key worker childcare HUB schools will also continue to operate during the school holiday period including public holidays. The HUB schools provide childcare Monday - Friday between the hours of 8am and 6pm, with a hot lunch provided. If you have no alternative childcare and are a critical worker you can register for this service by following the process outlined on the West Lothian Council website.

To find out more visit Keyworker Childcare.

Antisocial behaviour

Despite a majority of people following the guidance there has been an increase in local noise nuisance calls as a minority appear to not be following the national guidelines regarding social distancing.

A few key messages to keep in mind during this period are:

  • Please have respect and consideration towards others.
  • Don't put pressure on the Emergency Services where possible
  • Don't have visitors to your home

If you do encounter any antisocial behaviour issues you can contact Police Scotland on 101 for the most serious issues or get in touch with the council's Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT).

To get in touch with the SNT visit Antisocial Behaviour.