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Self-isolating residents across Sefton reminded of £500 Test and Trace Support Payment

Residents across Sefton are being reminded that they may be eligible for a £500 payment if they have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

The scheme has been in place since the end of September to ensure that people do self-isolate when they are required to, and to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Those who are in receipt of certain benefits and cannot work during a self-isolation period, are being urged to apply for the one-off Test and Trace Support payment.

To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, an individual must:

  • have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • be employed or self-employed.
  • be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result.
  • be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “Self-isolating is one of the simplest and most effective means of containing the virus and we need everyone to continue to take responsibility and play their part in ensuring people are protected.  We do not want anyone across our Borough to fail to self-isolate because of financial concerns during that time.  The Council may be able to help if you’re struggling financially.

“Sefton residents should check if they are eligible for this support and know that applications can be back dated to the start of the scheme which was introduced at the end of September.”

Applications for those who qualify must be made to the Council and documentation will be required as part of the process.

Claimants will be asked to provide proof of NHS Test and Trace requesting they self-isolate, a bank statement and proof of employment or self-employment (such as evidence of self-assessment returns) and their National Insurance Number.

Applications will be able to be back dated from the launch date of Monday 28th September.

Everything about the application process is outlined on the Sefton Council website.

People must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from when their symptoms begin, or if they have tested positive and show no symptoms. People must self-isolate for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

People who fail to self-isolate when required could face fines of up to £10,000.

Tackling online loan sharks and illegal money lending

Sefton Council is backing a national campaign aimed at tackling illegal money lending on the Internet and warning of the dangers of online loan sharks.

Coordinated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, the campaign comes amid concerns more people are falling prey to unscrupulous lenders online. Statistics show one in five victims met their lender on social media in the first half of 2020*.

Loan sharks are increasingly using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims. These criminals will lure people in with seemingly attractive loan offers but will quickly resort to intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment and trap borrowers in a spiral of debt.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “We know that COVID-19 has had an impact on many people’s circumstances and has had a negative effect on many households’ incomes, which could make them vulnerable to scams such as this, especially in the build up to Christmas.

“What we want to do is remind Sefton residents that seemingly attractive and affordable offers are illegal schemes being cooked up by criminals who do not have their best interests at heart.

“People already struggling financially will be likely to find themselves in a worse position than before if they fall victim to such online offers, sometimes facing threats and intimidation.”

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are aware that loan sharks are becoming more active on social media, particularly in community groups and on local selling pages, which we will not tolerate. I urge people to remain vigilant when online – if you spot a suspicious loan advert on social media, report it. If you need to borrow money, always check the lender is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and contact your local credit union about ethical financial products and services.”

Cllr Hardy added: “There are ways that the Council can advise and support people who are struggling with their finances. Whether it’s problems paying rent or business owners forced to close because of national and regional coronavirus restrictions. There is a whole host of support available through services like Invest Sefton, Homeless Prevention and Early Help, to name just a few. Further support on a wide range of issues that might affect someone’s finances are outlined on our website.

“The sooner anyone in Sefton facing problems contacts us, the better chance that we can work with them to find practical solutions to their money concerns. And I would urge everyone to be vigilant when online and on social media – don’t get caught out by loan sharks or money lending scams.”

There is a dedicated section on the Council’s website with helpful resources for all here: https://www.sefton.gov.uk/covid-19-in-sefton/covid-19-support/financial-support.aspx

Residents can also get in touch via Sefton Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

The campaign, titled #SharkFreeSurfing, will run across social media platforms from Monday 30th November to Sunday 6th December. It is hoped that the campaign will help encourage not just victims but the wider community to report online illegal money lending activity.

The key advice for people to protect themselves from loan sharks online is:

Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a lender, take some time to do a bit more research. Check the lender is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If not, don’t borrow from them – report to the Stop Loan Sharks team.

Beware of loan adverts with no credit checks. Loan sharks have been known to advertise in community groups and on local selling pages. They may seem friendly and accommodating, but their behaviour can quickly change, and you might be harassed or threatened if you get behind with your repayments. Lenders must carry out credit checks to make sure borrowers can afford to pay back their loans. You should never hand over your bank details to strangers, even if they lure you with attractive offers. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Beware of any requests for your details or money. Loan sharks may ask for copies of your passport or pictures of your house, the street and your house number. Never send money or give card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.

Anyone suspecting they have been approached by a loan shark or someone acting inappropriately, can report them anonymously to www.stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling the Stop Loan Sharks Helpline on 0300 555 2222.

Alternatively, they can email the team reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or access support via live chat on the website, Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm.

Other useful websites:

FCA Financial Services Register: https://register.fca.org.uk/

Find Your Credit Union: www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk

Citizens Advice: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Step Change: www.stepchange.org

Money Advice Service: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

*From research conducted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team as part of their half-year witness statistics report for January-June 2020. 

Hospitality, leisure and retail businesses urged to apply for latest grants

Sefton Council is urging businesses to apply for the latest round of financial support through the Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (Expanded Scheme) which opens today (Monday 30th November).

National lockdown and local restrictions have had a significant impact on many businesses in Sefton and the Liverpool City Region. Some have benefitted from national support schemes.

Other businesses such as non-essential retail, the self-employed, sole traders, licensed market traders and limited companies based at home who predominantly supply the hospitality and leisure sectors haven’t met the criteria and have not received any financial support.

The Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (Expanded Scheme) will be open for applications that meet the eligibility criteria from 11am on Monday 30th November and close at 5pm on Friday 11th December 2020.

The first round of funding has already seen over £1 million of grant assistance paid to 152 Sefton businesses.

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “We have seen the impact of the pandemic on our local economy with businesses forced to close at various stages over the past nine months. This latest round of funding aims to help those businesses who have been unable to access other national support schemes by providing financial support to enable them to continue trading.”

Business must be based in Sefton, or one of the other Liverpool City Region local authority areas. The grants are simple to apply for and businesses will not have to repay them.

To find out more about the eligibility criteria and how to apply, businesses should visit the Sefton Council website: https://www.sefton.gov.uk/covid19business

Cllr Maher added: “We recognise the key contribution these businesses make to the Sefton economy and we urge all that fall into these categories to follow the simple processes that are in place so that they can receive these grants as quickly as possible.”

Ongoing business support and advice for all businesses across Sefton is available via InvestSefton, which leads on the Council’s business support. It has dedicated information available on all of the latest Covid-19 updates and support available to businesses in Sefton.  To access this information visit: www.investsefton.com.

December coronavirus testing facilities across Sefton

Sefton Council, alongside NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG, has supported COVID-19 testing across the Borough since the start of July and will continue to ensure that there is a testing provision throughout the winter.

Testing for people with symptoms

Across December, drive-through Mobile Testing Units will operate once again. These sites are for those with symptoms – a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell – and can be booked by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Planned dates and locations may be subject to change if testing is required in other locations:

  • Tues 1 – Litherland
  • Weds 2 – Litherland
  • Thurs 3 – Ainsdale
  • Fri 4 – Ainsdale
  • Sat 5 – Ainsdale
  • Sun 6 – Maghull
  • Mon 7 – Southport
  • Tues 8 – Southport
  • Weds 9 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Thurs 10 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Fri 11 – Southport
  • Sat 12 – Maghull
  • Sun 13 – Maghull
  • Mon 14 – Ainsdale
  • Tues 15 – Ainsdale
  • Weds 16 – Southport
  • Thurs 17 – Southport
  • Fri 18 – Litherland
  • Sat 19 – Maghull
  • Sun 20 – Maghull
  • Mon 21 – Litherland
  • Tues 22 – Litherland
  • Weds 23 – Ainsdale
  • Thurs 24 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Mon 28 – Southport
  • Tues 29 – Southport
  • Weds 30 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Thurs 31 – Aintree Racecourse

In addition, local walk-through test centres are open every day from 8am to 8pm, providing easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

The four local test centres are located at:

  • Bootle Town Hall L20 7AA
  • Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road L22 OLQ
  • Netherton Activity Centre, Glovers Land L30 3TL
  • Southport Town Hall PR81DA

Those with symptoms seeking tests, need to book ahead of going to either the walk-through or drive-through sites. It’s quick and easy to book by calling 119 or going online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Sefton recognised for blooming marvellous commitment to gardening

Bootle, Crosby, Southport and Waterloo have all been recognised by the North West in Bloom group despite the cancellation of this year’s usual judging.

Earlier this year it was confirmed that due to the ongoing restrictions with COVID-19, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) had decided to cancel judging for this year’s regional in Bloom competitions.

However, residents across Sefton were not deterred by this news and when restrictions were lifted in June, volunteers returned to green spaces to showcase once again their gardening skills by maintaining flower beds and creating wonderful displays.

Stay Safe flower bed display n Southport
‘Stay Safe’ display in Southport

As a result, North West in Bloom has shared certificates of recognition for the creativity and ingenuity shown despite such testing times.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The Green Sefton team has been absolutely bowled over by the determination and commitment of our green-fingered community groups and volunteers who’ve still created such wonderful displays this year.

“Not only do their continued efforts help to make our Sefton greener, but they also help to bring communities together making them stronger and happier. We’ve all enjoyed spending time outdoors, perhaps more than ever this year, and having passionate gardeners across our Borough looking after our valued green spaces has really enhanced our time spent outdoors.”

Green Sefton – who help co-ordinate North West in Bloom within the Borough – are encouraging green-fingered residents to think ahead now to next year when it is hoped the North West in Bloom competition will go ahead.

Anyone interested in becoming involved can email green.sefton@sefton.gov.uk

For more information on taking a more active role in community gardening, the RHS has lots of helpful resources, simply visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/community-gardening.

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