County Council steps up to support Somerset in time of need

Somerset County Council is stepping up operations to support Somerset’s communities and keep people safe during the coronavirus emergency.

The County Council will be increasing spending in several key areas in response to the pandemic.

This includes expected spending of in excess of £10m for vital personal protective equipment (PPE) needed by carers, social workers and other key staff, £2m on new pop-up care homes to ease the pressure on the NHS, plus millions more to protect vulnerable children, childcare settings and key contractors.

Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “We are doing everything we can to support Somerset’s communities and that means stepping up when we’re needed the most.

“Although we are committed to minimising costs where possible and achieving value for money, it is well known that the cost of providing services has spiralled.

”For instance, we anticipate spending up to £10m on essential PPE alone. There can be no question about the importance of doing this to secure vital supplies which are needed to keep our carers, social workers and other key workers safe so they can protect others.

“We have stood up two pop-up care homes to ease the pressure on the NHS and are supporting a huge number of people, businesses and services in need – from nurseries to public transport operators.

“It’s a huge effort, but this is likely to be a very long emergency and we are positioning ourselves to be there for anyone in Somerset who needs our help.”

The major areas of expected spend include:

  • Paying a 10% increase to all care home providers to help them stay financially viable through the crisis – £1m/month (minimum of three months)
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Government provides 30% of the PPE required by key workers in Somerset, Somerset County Council is funding the remaining 70% – predicted cost £10m
  • Setting up and running two new care homes in Yeovil and Wellington – £1m each
  • Supporting nurseries and childcare settings to enable them to financially survive – £2.1m
  • Running social care services seven days a week – £1m
  • Supporting District Councils with additional homelessness costs – £0.8
  • Supporting our supply chain on major building projects – £5m
  • Plus a whole host of other costs that will add up

Please note, these costs are provisional and do not take into account loss of income. The council has prioritised payments to suppliers to support the local economy.

Last week, Somerset County Council received £9.936m from the Government in addition to the £15.668m received from the first tranche of the £1.6bn of national funding. This brings the total Government funding received by SCC to £25.604m.

For more information about Somerset County Council’s response to the coronavirus emergency please visit http://www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus, where you can also sign up for regular email updates.

A single phone number is also available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis. Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.