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Sefton Council supporting families with school holiday meal vouchers during Easter Half Term

Sefton Council is pleased to announce that it will be offering supermarket vouchers during the two weeks of the Easter Holidays to support children and families who receive free school meals.

The Council will be using part of its Winter Funding to provide schools with these much-needed vouchers. Schools will then allocate these vouchers to families who are eligible.

As with the Christmas Holiday vouchers, these will be valid to buy food in store and online at local supermarkets.

The Council will also be providing a food programme and activities during the summer and Christmas holiday this year. This will be optional for children who receive free school meals. Further updates on these provisions will be available soon.

Speaking about the Council’s support during the Easter Holidays, Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said:

“We understand that many families across the Borough are experiencing difficulties, especially with the added challenges people are facing due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

“I am therefore, delighted that we can hopefully lessen the burden for our communities by giving this support over the Easter Holidays.”

Families across Sefton who do not currently receive free school meals but think they might be eligible can visit www.sefton.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals to find out whether they qualify and how to apply.

Metro Mayor Sets Out Declaration of Intent on Race Equality

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram today set out a Declaration of Intent on Race Equality, detailing how the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will tackle institutional and systemic racism.

The Combined Authority will be asked to adopt the Declaration of Intent at its next meeting on 19 March.

The Declaration of Intent sets out how the Combined Authority will encourage and support organisations to prioritise race equality, while tackling under-representation within its own workforce.

Developed in collaboration with partner organisations, including all the constituent Local Authorities, the declaration will demonstrate the Combined Authority’s ‘undimmed ambition’ to address inequalities faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the city region.

Tackling racial injustice has been given a new level of urgency following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black Asian And Minority Ethnic communities, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Under the wide-ranging declaration, the Combined Authority will conduct rigorous diversity monitoring of all its policies, projects and programmes while seeking to use its ‘soft powers’ to influence other organisations to prioritise race equality.

It will also seek increased engagement with Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic communities to co-create ways of improving accessibility to employment, skills and business support.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

 “The events of the last year have shone a light on institutional racism which still exists in our society. It is essential that we lead from the front on tackling it and set an example for others to follow.

“We are launching this declaration, which sets challenging targets for ensuring that our workforce reflects the communities we serve currently and to ensure that our funding programmes are more accessible in order to deliver more inclusive positive impacts for our communities.

“We are working with representatives of Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic communities and institutions to develop our approach and we will continue to do so to ensure we get it right.  This is just the start of our journey, but I am committed to doing all we can to tackle racism, discrimination and inequality and better reflect the diversity of our region.”

A report to the Combined Authority’s March 19 meeting says: “Not all of the programmes and interventions we deliver are equally accessible to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents.

“The first round of the Future Innovation Fund is just one example of this, which received only 3 applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic-led businesses.”

By 2025, the Combined Authority would aim to help an additional 2,500 Black Asian And Minority Ethnic businesses and to support an extra 5,000 Black Asian And Minority Ethnic residents through employment and skills programmes.

The Combined Authority will also more than double its own Black Asian And Minority Ethnic workforce by 2025.

The authority employs more than 950 staff – but less than 3% are from Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic groups and there is no representation at director level.

Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic staff make up 3.4% of the Combined Authority’s senior management while comprising 6% of the Liverpool City Region’s population.

Under the declaration, a minimum of 6% of the authority’s workforce, which includes Merseytravel staff, would be from a Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic background by 2025.

At least 6% of senior positions would also be held by Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic employees by 2025 and the authority would be required to increase representation each year.

The report continues: “Racism is a structural problem which exists in nearly all major institutions and organisations.

“Liverpool City Region Combined Authority recognises institutional and systemic racism as a legitimate issue, one that has no quick fix, but can no longer go unaddressed.

“The City Region’s population is increasingly diverse and multicultural, yet institutional racism is affecting the outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents.

“Among other indicators, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents in the City Region face higher employment gaps, are more likely to be economically inactive, are paid less on average than white residents, are more likely to live in poverty, and less likely to own their own home

“The Combined Authority accepts that it has an important role to play in tackling this injustice and inequality and driving forward positive change.”

The report goes on: “As a major employer, we must look internally at our own organisation, which is failing to be representative of the population it serves, especially at a senior level.

“As a funder, we have a responsibility to ensure our programmes are accessible to all of our residents, with a relentless focus on narrowing gaps, and finally as a key institution in the City Region, we must use our convening and soft powers to set best practice for other organisations and stakeholders to follow.

“Put simply, we must do the right thing for our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees and residents and influence the partners we work with to do the same.

“The Combined Authority is committed to emerge from the current crisis with a fairer, more socially just economy. Our recovery plan is underpinned by principles to Build Back Better, we must deliver on them.”

The move comes three months after Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram announced the first tranche of ÂŁ214,000 for racial equality projects.

Reaction to the Declaration of Intent on Race Equality

Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:

 “I believe it is our responsibility to fully and comprehensively ensure that we are part of the solution for racial justice in our city region and not part of the problem, and I welcome the Declaration of Intent on Race Equality set out by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram today.

“As a LEP we are working with our board members, our sector sub boards, the Combined Authority, our local businesses and business facing organisations to ensure we are getting to the heart of the challenges and barriers faced. We can then work together to develop meaningful actions and plans that we can all undertake to make sure businesses are doing everything they can to eradicate racial injustice within the workplace.”

Aaron Fontenot, Founder at Culture Deck, Business Lead at Matchstick Creative, Member of the Liverpool City Council Race Equality Task Force, Tiber Enterprise Board Member, and Young People’s BLM Forum Board Member, said:

“Race equality has always been a challenge in the Liverpool City Region, particularly around employment. As a black founder and an active member of the community, I would like to see the significant change in the ways young black people are supported in business and employment; and I believe the objectives and ambitions laid out in this declaration are a great first step.”

Ngunan Adamu, Broadcaster and CEO of iWoman Academy CIC, said:

“Recent global events have seen the Liverpool City Region do what it does best and that’s to stand to attention.

“With Liverpool City Region’s history, race equality has to be at the forefront of every decision that it makes and we stand with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to make sure that the Race Equality Declaration of Intent is fit for purpose and serves the communities that have on occasion felt unheard.”

Tracey Gore, Chair of Liverpool Race Equality Task Force, said:

“It is welcome that the Combined Authority have published their declaration of intent.  The declaration enables the wider community to hold them to account not just over the next five years but for their on-going commitment to not only employ Black and Racial Minority people at all levels but to ensure retention and progression over the long term.”

Chantelle Lunt, on behalf of Merseyside BLM Alliance and Merseyside Alliance for Racial Equality, said:

“Merseyside BLM Alliance and Merseyside Alliance for Racial Equality welcome the declaration of intent by Liverpool City Region, aiming not only to increase diversity within their own organisation but encourage other organisations to do the same.

“We are pleased to hear that the LCR are keen to collaborate with, and support, black led organisations and community groups in the region too. We hope that this work will be conducted openly, honestly and transparently.

“This is a positive step, as we need real change in our community. We look forward to working closely with the Liverpool City Region going forward.”

Ben Osu, Strategy Lead, Anthony Walker Foundation, said:

“In 2020 the Anthony Walker Foundation experienced a 126% increase in service demand to support those who had experienced racism within the region. The Foundation is committed to tackling racism in all of its forms and working to make the Liverpool City Region a safer place for all – regardless of skin colour- to live, work and thrive. The support and ambitions set out by the Metro Mayor and Combined Authority are welcomed and we are happy to help realise ambitions and create a region where racial injustice is a thing of the past.”

We want the views of parents and carers of young people with Special Educational Needs and or Disabilities (SEND), to help shape support services

Parents and carers of young people with Special Educational Needs and or Disabilities (SEND) are being encouraged to share their views about the services they receive in their local area.

Working with the Sefton Parent and Carer Forum, Sefton Council has launched the ‘SEND Parent and Carer Spring 2021 survey’, to gather information about services in health, education and social care.

This follows the ‘SEND Parent and Carer survey’ that was carried out in November 2019, which gave an insight into whether people are seeing an improvement in the help and support they are receiving.

The 2021 survey will help us continue to understand what is going well, where improvements can be made and enable the SEND Continuous Improvements Board to monitor experience, involvement and satisfaction.

We are encouraging as many people who are involved with SEND services to complete the survey. Entries will also be put into a prize draw to win one of three ÂŁ50 shopping vouchers.

Cllr John Joseph Kelly, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools & Safeguarding, said:

“The views and experiences of parents and carers are invaluable in making sure that children and young people with Special Educational Needs and or Disabilities (SEND) receive the education, health and social care that they deserve.

“We want to make sure we are delivering the best services possible and I would therefore, encourage people to fill in the survey to make their voices heard.

Cllr. Paul Cummins, Chair of Sefton’s SEND Continuous Improvements Board said:

 “Our main aim is to continue to improve the lives of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and or Disabilities (SEND), as well as their families and support networks.”

“The information taken from the survey is vital as it will help us shape how we deliver our services to them, even more effectively.”

Follow the link to complete the survey which is open until the 26th March 2021: https://yourseftonyoursay.sefton.gov.uk/business-intelligence/sefton-parent-carer-send-survey-2021

Sefton landlord ordered to pay back money after operating premises without a licence

A Sefton Landlord who had been previously prosecuted in 2019 for operating a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without the required licence and fined £5,000.00,  has now been ordered to pay back the housing benefit and universal credit that they received for a year whilst the premises was operating without the licence under a “Rent Repayment Order”. This equates to a further £13,293.27 . This follows an unsuccessful appeal by the landlord, against the “Order”, to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in February 2021.

Landlords who fail to licence their properties in line with the relevant legal requirements will be at risk of prosecution or receiving a Civil Penalty Notice (up to a maximum of ÂŁ30,000) and potentially a Rent Repayment Order.

68 Civil Penalty Notices have so far been issued on Landlords, for failure to licence houses that are privately rented, since Sefton’s licensing schemes began. The average level of fine for each has been £3,500.00

Sefton’s Housing Standards team are actively seeking out any properties that do not have the required licence and enforcement action is being stepped up by the team. To check if your property requires a licence visit Sefton’s website https://www.sefton.gov.uk/housing/private-housing/

Anyone can check if their property has the required licence by visiting the Council’s public register of housing licences https://housinglicensing.sefton.gov.uk/online-application/public-register/

Licensing schemes aim to improve the conditions and management of privately rented properties across the designated areas of Sefton. A well-managed privately rented sector plays an important role in meeting the Borough’s housing needs.

 

Residents urged to continue to follow lockdown rules prior to schools opening 24/02/2021

Residents in Sefton are strongly urged to continue stay at home to help reduce COVID-19 infection rates even further prior to schools opening. All schools and colleges will open on 8th March in the first stage of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, however infection rates are still high in  Sefton and local hospitals continue to be under pressure.

Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health for Sefton, said:

“Over the next two weeks, it’s really important that residents abide by the current lockdown rules and play their part in reducing infection rates. Although schools and colleges are as safe as they can be, there is the potential that high rates in the community could mean a rise in COVID rates in school/college settings. By starting at a low number of infections on 8th March, we can reduce the risk of rates going up rapidly, as we have seen following previous lockdowns. It is vital that we do everything we can to help our children and young people continue with their education uninterrupted. With lower rates, we can also look forward to the gradual easing of restrictions over the coming months as set out in the Government’s roadmap.”

Under current lockdown rules, people should continue to stay at home and only leave the house for essential reasons such as work, education, shopping and medical appointments. A full list of what is permitted is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

A combination of the vaccine rollout and testing will help control the virus. The vaccine programme is running well with good uptake among priority groups and those who cannot work from home can access regular testing even if they do not have symptoms. Details on asymptomatic testing centres can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/covid-19-in-sefton

If residents experience symptoms of COVID (fever, new continuous cough or loss/change of taste or smell or other symptoms that may be related to COVID) they can obtain a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119. If the test is positive, residents must follow the guidance including self-isolating immediately. More information on self-isolating can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

For those who need support during this difficult time please visit www.kindtoyourmind.org which has details of 24/7 crisis helplines and resources to help mental wellbeing.

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