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Sefton supports Merseyside Collective Switch

Sefton Council are supporting the Merseyside Collective Switch to help bring down energy prices across the Liverpool City Region.

Ofgem have announced an increase to the energy price cap of £139 from 1 October.

Around 15 million households are currently covered by the price cap, which will see their typical bill increase from £1,138 to £1,277. Prepayment customers will see a larger increase of £153.

The increase is due to a 50% rise in wholesale energy costs over the last six months, with gas prices at a record high.

If you are on your supplier’s standard variable tariff, or if your fixed tariff is coming to an end and you haven’t switched, you can expect your bills to be affected.

The good news is, the Merseyside Collective Switch is here to help.

Set up in 2013, the Merseyside Collective Switch is one of the longest running local authority Collective Switches in the country. Delivered by local charity Energy Projects Plus, in partnership with the six local authorities in the Liverpool City Region, it has so far, helped local people save over £1.5 million on their energy bills.

Collective switching works by using the power of the group to negotiate cheaper energy tariffs from suppliers. The Merseyside Collective Switch winning tariffs have often been the cheapest on the market and are available exclusively to its members. Anyone can join, it’s completely free and there is no obligation to switch if you don’t want to.

Previous winning deals have included Big 6 suppliers such as British Gas, E.on, SSE and EDF Energy as well as Ovo and Green Energy.

The Merseyside Collective Switch also includes a full market comparison, so if the winning deals aren’t right for you, you can find one that is.

As exclusive offers are only available to members, you will need to register by 8 September to be eligible. Once you’ve registered, you will be able to access exclusive offers time and time again, and can make sure you’re not missing out on a great deal on your energy.

Registration is completely free and your data will only be used to provide you with information about the winning energy tariffs.

Plus, by switching with the Merseyside Collective Switch, you will be helping to support local charity, Energy Projects Plus, who provide vital support to local people who are living in fuel poverty.

Switching your energy tariff with the Merseyside Collective Switch is both quick and easy, and it could prevent you from overpaying hundreds of pounds a year.

The next set of winning offers will be available from 9 September, providing time for you to compare and fix your energy tariff ahead of the price rises.

Peter Owen, CEO at Energy Projects Plus said

“We are proud to have been offering this free switching service, which is specifically designed to benefit people across the Liverpool City Region, for eight years now. The Merseyside Collective Switch is here to support everyone through the switching process to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. With the price cap increase looming, and more energy price hikes on their way, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you’re not paying more than you should be for your gas and electricity”.

Registration for this round closes on 8 September.

Members will then be contacted with the deals that have been negotiated for the group.

To join the Collective Switch visit www.lcrenergyswitch.co.uk

or call the local Save Energy Advice Line on freephone 0800 043 0151, where you can also get other free and impartial support to help reduce your energy bills.

Welcoming children and young people back to school

Welcome back to school graphic

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, has written to parents and guardians across the Borough to remind them about the arrangements in place for returning to school.

In her letter she explained that before the the start of term, each Sefton school has completed a risk assessment and identified specific measures for their settings.

Sefton’s schools will be following the national guidance. This means ‘pupil bubbles’ and social distancing/mixing measures have been removed and pupils are no longer be required to wear face coverings in school, although it is recommended they be worn in crowded and enclosed places.

Regular hand washing, personal hygiene and ventilation is also being recommended to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  Should case numbers in a school or educational setting rise substantially, some control measures need to be temporarily reintroduced.

Although NHS Test & Trace are now responsible for contact tracing of all positive cases, if a child or young person tests positive for COVID-19, their school should still be informed.

Young people are no longer being advised to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, but they will be asked to take a PCR test. If the PCR result is positive, the individual will then be required to self-isolate. All known contacts of positive COVID-19 cases should be reported to NHS Test & Trace, no matter vaccination status or age.

The letter reminds parents and guardians that if a child develops COVID-19 symptoms, they should book an appointment for them to have a PCR test and that the child should not come into school whilst they are awaiting the test results, even if they feel better. If their test result is negative, they can return to school. If their result is positive, they should continue to isolate and follow public health advice.

Appointments for PCR tests can be booked at www.gov.uk/coronavirus  or by calling 119.

Mrs Jones’ letter also encourages parents, carers, secondary pupils and college students to take regular rapid lateral flow (LFD) tests. Taking LFD tests twice a week remains one of the most effective ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Free rapid tests are available through schools, colleges and nurseries for everyone who attends them or works at them. Primary age pupils in Year 6 or below do not need to do testing if they do not have symptoms or are not a contact of a positive COVID-19 case.

She also reminds readers that vaccination remains the best protection against the virus and encourages everyone eligible to get both doses as soon as possible.

Margaret Jones said:

“We appreciate that this is a challenging time for parents, guardians, pupils and students as well as for teachers and school staff and Sefton Council would like to thank them for their support in keeping the Borough’s helping keep our schools open and safe.

“We also know it’s a lot to take in so we have set up some Frequently Asked Questions on our website which can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/schools-faqs

“Finally, I like to wish all the Borough’s pupils and students every success in this coming academic year.”

Council Cabinet approves £2 million-plus of new, children’s social care roles

Councillors at today’s Sefton Council Cabinet meeting have approved more than £2 million to fund new roles in its Children’s Social Care Department.

This investment in staff is in addition to an extra £7 million, Sefton Council committed to children’s social care in its budget earlier this year.

Demand

Cllr Mhairi Doyle MBE, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We are currently facing very high levels of demand for our children’s social care services and this has been intensified by the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit some parts of Sefton particularly hard.

“Today’s agreement of an extra £2 million of additional investment in new roles over the coming two years will be key to enabling us to make further improvements to children’s social care in Sefton and represents the latest step in our improvement journey following an OFSTED visit earlier in 2021.”

Since March this year, Sefton Council has appointed a number of additional staff to its Children’s Social Care service have been recruited and has established a transformation team support by the Department for Education (DfE).

Improvements

Cllr Doyle added: “We acknowledged the issues and challenges raised through the OFSTED inspection and immediately started work to make the improvements needed to address them.

“We have already put in place a new interim Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education to ensure the service’s management is focused and to drive the development work.

“Our Children’s Social Care staff are committed and skilled but are facing levels of demand unlike anything we’ve known before. We are working to support them in providing the high-quality, responsive service that families, children and young people across Sefton have every right to expect and which we are committed to delivering.”

“I am confident that recruitment these new posts agreed today combined with the valuable support being provided by the Department of Education, will enable us to achieve that commitment.”

You can find out more about Sefton Council services for children and young people here.

Sefton residents reminded that Council advisors continue to offer a helping hand

Residents across Sefton are being reminded that Council advisors are here to help them, as the Customer Services team reflects on the continued support it’s offered to its communities throughout the health crisis.  

Whether it’s on the phone, online or at an in-person appointment, they can assist with a range of requests from how to claim free school meal vouchers to registering for Council Tax discounts and everything in between.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 150 Customer Services staff have continued to offer help to Sefton’s residents, working from home as a successful virtual Contact Centre was brought into operation.

In that time more than 13,000 Covid-19 related enquiries have been dealt with including requests for food parcels, questions about testing and vaccinations, requests for help from businesses and those seeking Test & Trace self-isolation payments.

Customer Services teams have:

  • Handled 251,000 telephone calls
  • Issued 15,348 Business Support Grants worth £89.2 million
  • Paid £910,000 to Sefton-licensed taxi drivers and processed around 9,500 online licence renewals
  • Given out 4,813 payments for emergency help such as food provision and essential household items
  • Awarded 2,701 Discretionary Housing Payments to support those struggling with rents and bills
  • Amended 105,000 Council Tax records including discounts to those eligible for support
Graphic showing the statistics of people helped by the Council's customer services teams over the pandemic
Graphic showing the statistics of people helped by the Council’s customer services teams over the pandemic

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services, said:

“Despite the continued effects of the pandemic, our Customer Services staff are very much here and available to support any Sefton resident that needs assistance with one of our services.

“Over the past year and a half, the team has worked incredibly hard to maintain continuity in helping people and businesses throughout such challenging times. They have made thousands of calls to the most vulnerable people in our communities and worked alongside key Council teams to ensure that financial support was processed quickly to support residents, businesses and workers like taxi drivers.”

During the pandemic, the Bootle One Stop Shop was one of the first customer service centres in the region to re-open safely to ensure that appointments could be prioritised for those who needed in-person support. More than 2,900 appointments have been offered throughout the pandemic.

The Council’s One Stop Shop in Southport is now also open for pre-booked appointments for those who would prefer face-to-face support. Based at The Atkinson in Southport, appointments are available Monday to Friday between 11am and 4pm. On Stanley Road the Bootle One Stop Shop has appointments available every Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.

Cllr Paulette Lappin added:

“We take pride in offering high levels of customer service to our communities across the Borough and despite the difficult challenges of the health crisis, we’ve actually retained our Customer Service Excellence standard.

“The standard demonstrates our commitment to a customer-focussed culture across our service. We strive to listen to our customers views about the service provided, and when possible, use their feedback to make changes to the way that we operate.

“Our focus is on timeliness and quality of service to ensure the best possible result for customers. So, anyone living in Sefton that needs our support, should not be afraid to get in touch whether that’s online, on the phone or in person, we are here to help you.”

People can contact Sefton Council in many ways:

Full details and ways to contact Sefton Council can be found on the dedicated webpage: www.sefton.gov.uk/miscellaneous-pages/contact-the-council

One week to go until ‘Big Chat’ on local health care

There’s just one week to go until the virtual ‘Big Chat’, which NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is holding from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday 8th September.

Interactive

Open to everyone in Sefton, the ‘Big Chat’ will be a chance for residents to join health professionals in looking back at the CCG’s work over the last year and to get involved and give their views during an interactive session about local health and care.

To take part people need to register by 5pm on Friday 3rd September by emailing  comnications@sefton.nhs.uk or calling 0151 317 8456.

Future

Chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, Dr Pete Chamberlain, is encouraging anyone with an interest to join the event and hear about the important work of the last 12 months, as well as plans for the future. He said: “We want as many people as possible to join us for the Big Chat, so please do register before 5pm on Friday 3 September.

“Hosting this event in a virtual format will not only keep everybody safe but hopefully enable those who would otherwise be unable to attend to join us online from the comfort of their own homes.

“The event is a great opportunity to meet some of your local healthcare teams, look back at the work we have been doing for your community and give your views on plans for the future.”

More information on the events  can be found at www.southseftonccg.nhs.uk

A separate Big Chat event is also planned for NHS Southport and Formby CCG on Wednesday 15 September from 6pm-8pm and people can register in the same way.

Find out more.

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