Cabinet to consider Dorset Council’s Covid-19 response and plans for the future
Members of the Cabinet will discuss Dorset Council’s response to Covid-19 and progress made against targets in its Council Plan when they meet next Tuesday (21 June).
Services and teams across the council have been working with partners to support residents, communities and local businesses since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
This has included supporting the most vulnerable people and families, paying out grants to local businesses and maintaining critical services, such as waste collections.
Headline figures include:
- More than 34,500 covid-related calls and emails handled by the council’s contact centre
- 2,025 food packages delivered to people who were shielding
- Processing 1,200 requests for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Distributing £250m in grants and other fgin to local businesses.
The council redeployed employees to ensure critical services were maintained during lockdowns and other restrictions. This included adult care, emergency planning, support for people shielding, and support for waste services with the re-opening of Household Recycling Centres.
Dorset Council has approximately 4,500 employees. A total of just 2% of working days were lost due to employee absence linked to Covid-19, including caring for dependants, and there has been an overall reduction in general sickness levels across the council during the pandemic period.
The council also supported the start of the vaccination rollout in December 2020 – ensuring that frontline care and social work colleagues were among the first to be vaccinated. The council has also worked with Public Health Dorset to set up community rapid testing sites and supported local contact tracing to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Leader of Dorset Council, Cllr Spencer Flower, said:
“When we look back at all that we have achieved during the pandemic, I feel incredibly proud of the way our employees, councillors, partners and local communities have all pulled together to help the residents of Dorset through what has been an unprecedented and difficult time.”
The council received £315M in additional covid funding from the government to support initiatives including business grants, school transport, accommodation for rough sleepers, community rapid testing and more.
The majority of that funding (£250M) has been distributed to local business. This ranges from business grants through to business rate relief.
Like all local authorities, Dorset Council’s finances have been negatively impacted as a result of Covid-19. Although significant financial support was provided by government, this has not fully covered the financial consequences of the pandemic. The latest assessment is that the impact of the pandemic on the council’s own reserves is in the region of £15m. The council has now reprofiled its remaining reserves to prepare for any further financial and economic shocks.
Cabinet members will also receive an update on the council’s performance in terms of meeting the targets set out in its first Council Plan – which was published before the pandemic.
The council has continued to work hard to meet its objectives alongside responding to Covid-19 and progress has been made in a number of areas. One significant area of improvement has been around children’s social care – with the rates of children in care, children in need, re-referrals and children with a child protection plan reducing, and the number of care leavers (aged 16 to 25) in education, employment and training increasing.
Councillors and officers are now reviewing the plan to recognise the impact of Covid-19 and the ongoing work to help Dorset recover from the pandemic. Cllr Flower added:
“When we published our first Council Plan in early 2020 we outlined our vision for Dorset and pledged to be bold and ambitious – so I’m really pleased that we’ve continued to make progress in so many areas, while supporting our communities during the pandemic. Both the impact of Covid-19 and work needed to help Dorset recover is substantial, so it’s important that this is reflected in our wider plan. There is still a lot to do, but I’m confident that we will carry forward our shared ambition of making Dorset a great place to live, work and visit.”
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