Wokingham Borough Council is set to commit an extra £1.2million to its ongoing campaign to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in the borough.
The council’s decision-making executive will consider setting aside the extra funding when it meets on Thursday (28 January). The money would be on top of the funds already being directed to the council’s response to Covid-19.
How the resource will be used
If agreed, the council will take a flexible approach to using the additional resource, but it is likely to be used to/for:
- Support the roll-out of rapid testing (Lateral Flow Tests) to more keyworkers, such as blue light officers, essential retail staff and delivery workers, and vulnerable groups in the community
- Give practical support for the NHS’ vaccination roll-out; such as providing buildings, marshals, parking and staffing
- Provision of Free School Meals
- Providing a life boat for preschools
- Covid-19 contact tracing to help ensure those who have been in close contact with a positive case are aware and follow the self-isolation rules
- Fund hardship payments to individuals and businesses hit by the pandemic
- Offer other community support as needed; including continued support for voluntary and community organisations
In addition, the pandemic has had wider impacts, such as an increase in fly-tipping, which need to be addressed and some of this additional funding would be used to tackle those.
Critical stage of the pandemic
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for health, well-being and adult services, said: “We are in a critical stage of the pandemic. The number of cases is still alarming high and we need to do all we can to bring them down, which is why contact tracing and testing are vital.
"We have led a successful contact tracing programme here in the borough and we are now rolling out rapid testing to more and more key workers and vulnerable groups. This funding would enable us to go even further to help our community by expanding these initiatives.
“But we also have the all-important hope offered by the vaccination programme and we are determined to help with that in any way we can. We are in regular contact with the NHS and local GPs to offer all the practical help they need.”
The borough council has received around £9.3million in emergency Covid-19 funding from central government but has not covered the cost of the local response.
Getting the borough through this difficult time
Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing, said: “The funding to be discussed this week is just part of our efforts, because our real commitment is much wider: it is that we will use our strong financial position – the reserves we have judiciously built up and the returns we get from sound investment – to get the borough through this incredibly difficult time.
“We are being flexible in how we do this – we are funding charities to deliver help in their communities, we are working with GPs and the NHS and we are delivering some things – such as contact tracing and rapid testing – ourselves.
"We are also committed to preventing hardship through direct help to those in need, and by helping businesses (both with the national grants available and local discretionary help).
“The pandemic has hit us in other ways, such as fly-tipping, and this extra funding would allow us to put extra funds into tackling those problems as well.”
Stay up-to-date with the latest information about Covid-19 in Wokingham Borough by signing up to our newsletter.