Starting on May 17th, SMEs and charitable organisations across the city of York will be able to access additional public funds to aid in the hiring of new apprentices or to develop existing employees.
The funding is being made available by City of York Council from unallocated funds from its Apprenticeship Levy*, and comes as part of the council’s continuing efforts to support the creation of apprenticeship opportunities for people of all ages.
The total amount available to local businesses each year could be around £100,000, with individual businesses being able to request a portion to offset the training and assessment costs for new apprenticeship starts. This funding is in addition to the Government’s financial incentives, of up to £4,000** for employers who hire a new apprentice.
York businesses and charitable organisations are being encouraged to come forward if they would like support to provide apprenticeship opportunities for new or existing employees.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for the Economy and Strategic Planning, City of York Council said:
“This apprenticeship funding will help small businesses and charities looking to help train their next generation of employees, and underlines the council’s commitment to skills and employment opportunities across the city.
“Apprenticeships provide opportunities for people across our city, from school leavers taking their first steps into the world of work, to those of any age looking for a change of career.”
Businesses and charities looking to take part in the scheme can find out more by visiting the York Apprenticeship Hub at york.gov.uk/HiringAnApprentice.
*All organisations with an annual wage bill of more than £3m legally have to set aside 0.5% of their payroll for apprenticeship training, creating a fund called the Apprenticeship Levy.
Under the government scheme, 20% of any levy not allocated by the authority can be offered to other local SMEs and charitable organisations, under the government scheme. This approach has been approved by City of York Council.
**National apprenticeships grants are currently £3,000 for hiring an apprentice of any age until 30 September 2021, plus the existing £1,000 if the apprentice is aged 16-18 or up to 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan
TWO more deaths announced by York Hospital Trust today. Both occurred yesterday. The cumulative total since 1st September is now 174.
The Trust has today said that the number of admissions has reached a record high for the period of the pandemic. The Trust currently has 135 patients with Covid-19 – higher than the 131 patients it was treating last March.
There were ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE new positive test results announced today. The cumulative total number of cases has now risen to 8522.
The rate /100k population figure is now 532.74.
It is trending to reach 622.0.
There are now three neighbourhoods in the highest infection rate banding. They are Woodthorpe/Acomb Park, Clifton Without and Westfield/Chapelfields.
The Citywide case rate continues to grow following the national trend.
Test numbers down in York.
Perhaps not surprisingly the number of COVID testscarried out during Christmas week (24/12 – 30/12) fell by half compared to the previous period. Not withstanding the drop in the number of tests carried out, a record high number of positive results was recorded on 29th December.
The testing profile showed a marked shift towards the Lateral Flowmethod during December
The latest ONS figures also show that there is a growth in older people testing positive for the virus although the majority of cases (70%) were still found in people aged between 20 and 60.
Fines for COVID restrictions contraventions
Between 2/12/2020 and 5/1/2021 355 FPNs have been issued in total, broken down as follows:
194 to local residents
161 to visitors
9 for outdoor gatherings
334 for indoor gathering – 51% (171) of those have been in the Scarborough district.
Speaking about the number of FPNs issued in Scarborough for breaches of the indoor gathering rules, Chief Inspector Rachel Wood said:
“While the majority of Scarborough residents have followed the guidance and understood the rules around social gatherings, unfortunately the figures show that there was a minority of people who chose to openly flout the rules and host and attend house parties.
“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams attended a number of incidents over the festive season and had to take enforcement action, as sadly some people did not disperse and go home when instructed.
“I cannot stress enough how serious our current situation is. As a nation we have moved into new national restrictions and we are being told to once again stay home to save lives and protect our health service. We are seeing infection rates rise and the impact of the virus and the new more transmissible strain is really being felt by our hospitals and healthcare colleagues. People are losing their loved ones to this virus every day.
“So I am urging Scarborough residents to stick to the rules, especially as we approach the first weekend of the new national restrictions. Stay home and only leave if it is for an essential reason such as shopping or medical assistance. People are not permitted to gather indoor or outdoors socially and you should not be meeting anyone outside your own household or support bubble. For more guidance on the restrictions and what you are allowed to do, visit the gov.uk website.
“Our local patrol plans have been revised and we have increased our presence and visibility in our local communities, so members of the public will see officers on the roads and patrolling our local areas. We will take enforcement action against those who are breaking the rules and putting the wider community at risk from this deadly virus. So please stay home and stay safe.”
Extra £100,000 for York workers having to self-isolate
An additional £100,000 is now available for discretionary payments to York residents who are required to self-isolate by the Government’s Test and Track scheme
This extra funding comes from York’s Public Health Covid Outbreak Management Fund to support the council’s discretionary payment scheme. This scheme runs alongside the Government’s Test and Trace Support Payment scheme which makes one-off payments of £500 to eligible residents suffering financial hardship during their 14-day quarantine period.
City of York Council’s first discretionary scheme was funded by the Government but was enough to support only 39 eligible people. This new discretionary scheme will support up to 200 eligible working people with fixed £500 payments. It will also accept applications from working adults living with parents and from working students where they have been experiencing financial hardship because they have been told to self-isolate for 14 days.
People eligible for the Government’s Test and Trace Support Payment will have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace because they have tested positive for coronavirus, or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
Information on how to apply for a self-isolation support payment – either from the Government or the council’s discretionary scheme – is at www.york.gov.uk/selfisolate or please call 01904 551550.
Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said:
“We know how worried many people are about money at this difficult time.
“This £100,000 for eligible applicants to our discretionary scheme will provide much-needed relief to those worried about not being able to earn due to self-isolation.
“Self-isolating is just one way in which people are being affected financially by the pandemic. We’re also offering help to people to maximise any benefits and extra payments they’re eligible for, and to give advice to help them manage financially through these difficult times.”
The benefits you might be eligible for, how to claim and how any benefits will be affected if your circumstances change at gov.uk/benefits-calculators
For help to claim any of the help above or for more advice on sources of support in the city, please go to www.york.gov.uk/BenefitsAdvice or call 01904 551556 for help or a referral to the most appropriate support.
If you’re struggling to manage, or you don’t have any support, but need it because of Covid-19, the council’s helpline is here to help you through this difficult time. Contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01904 551550.
More COVID test appointment times available at Thanet Road
There are a large number of symptom free testing slots available at the Acorn Rugby Club site on Thanet Road for today.
NB. There is a period, from around 3pm – 6.30pm each day, when the Thanet Road site will not show as a testing option on the booking form. This is to allow the system to refresh.
Council guidance on the local initiative is reproduced below
As you will be aware cases in the city are rising and we need your help.
In recent days we have seen a spike in the number of cases in your area (and in some parts of the Foxwood area) and so are offering you the chance to get a symptom-free test to help keep you and those around you safe.
1 in 3 cases of Coronavirus have no symptoms but for some catching Coronavirus can have serious consequences. You could be spreading the virus to those you care about without knowing it.
To help stop the spread we are asking for you and your family to get a test. We are setting up a testing site at York Acorn Rugby Club, Thanet Road, YO24 2NW to make it as easy as possible for you to get a test. This site will be open from Wednesday 6th – Wednesday 13th January inclusive, between 9am and 3pm.
How it works
Book to have a test atwww.nhs.uk/coronavirus. On this website select that you do not have symptoms of coronavirus, but in the relevant section choose the option ‘my local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test even though I don’t have symptoms’. Then select the site at York Acorn Rugby Club. Testing can be undertaken on anyone aged 5 and over. We do not recommend being tested if you have tested positive in the previous 90 days. Ring 119 if can’t book online.
If you have symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend this site, instead book a test through www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 and select the Poppleton Bar site or a home testing kit.
Getting your results
You should get your results within 24-48 hours of your test.
If you receive a negative test result you can continue as you were.
a negative test result provides information about the level of the virus at one point in time
it’s possible to become infected in the hours or days after taking a rapid test – so you must continue to follow government guidance on social distancing, good hand hygiene, and practice ‘Hands, Face, Space’
this type of testing will only be effective if people continue to follow the guidance
Positive test results
If you receive a positive test result you must self-isolate for 10 days.
By working together and looking after each other we can get through this. We are incredibly grateful for all you have done this year to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Thank you for your continued support.
Stay safe and best wishes
Director of Public Health“
Essential frontline Council services announcement
City of York Council is working hard to ensure critical frontline services, such as waste and gritting services, will continue during the new national lockdown restrictions.
As the number of Covid cases increase in the city and across the country, it’s inevitable that the council will also see an increase in the number of infections within its frontline workforce, which makes delivering some services challenging.
Therefore, the council has acted fast and brought in additional measures to keep key frontline services like gritting and waste going over the coming months. This includes introducing stricter staff bubbles to protect staff, redeploying staff from other services and Public Health are also looking to roll our regular testing to staff in the council’s key services.
Immediate operational changes have also been introduced to ensure all but essential highways maintenance works have been paused during the national lockdown, prioritising household waste (refuse) collections and gritting services.
With many key workers currently using the highway network and winter weather affecting the city, it’s important that that the gritting team can continue to keep the highways clear and safe. Grit bins can be used by local residents and are being restocked. Residents are reminded to help relief the pressure on the NHS by taking extra care on untreated side roads and footpaths.
The council has worked with trade unions and its supply chain to develop new ways of working and has ensured all works will happen in a safe way for front line operatives and the public, particularly whilst roads are quieter than normal.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:
“During this incredibly difficult period, it is important that the council continues to deliver essential frontline services, such as gritting and waste collections, to support local residents, businesses and key workers.
“Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, our crews are working hard to ensure that these services can continue despite the national lockdown. With many key workers currently using the road network, it is important that our roads are gritted, so road conditions are maintained and improved. Our Household, Waste and Recycling Centres will also remain open to local residents throughout this period.
“As ever, the resilience and reaction of our city in the face of adversity has been encouraging. We have been overwhelmed by the response of residents and community groups who are supporting more vulnerable residents across the city. Again, I would like to thank our staff, residents and communities enough for truly demonstrating how York comes together in times of crisis.”
However, even with these additional measures, some services like waste may still be affected if case numbers significantly increase amongst staff. This could include some delays or missed collections and the need to co-mingle some items. The council is doing everything it can to keep such disruption to a minimum where possible.
Key services and changes summary:
Waste: some comingling may occur due to staff absences because of increased COVID infections and there may be some missed collections. Staff are operating in bubbles to protect crews
highways repairs/gritting: essential pothole repair and winter gritting will continue as normal. Staff are operating in bubbles to protect gritting drivers
outdoor gyms: sports areas, basketball courts and outdoor gyms are now closed
household waste sites at Hazel Court and Towthorpe: These services remain open
explore libraries will be opening at York, Acomb and Tang Hall for public access to PCs, in order to ensure that everyone in York has access to the internet and isn’t digitally excluded. There will also be a click and collect from Acomb and Tang Hall. These centres will be open Mon-Fri 10am to 3pm and Sat 10am 1pm
a takeaway service will also operate from Rowntree Park Reading Café, seven days a week between 9am- 4pm.
christmas tree collection – York residents can take their real trees for recycling to Tescos at Askham Bar in York between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 10 January.
footstreets – operating hours will revert to 10.30am to 5pm (not 8pm). Extensions (Blake Street/Lendal & Goodramgate/Colliergate sections) will remain in place.
street Works – Works to accelerate the delivery of utilities will take place were possible and whilst traffic levels are lower.
the lockdown restrictions may affect the frequency of buses on some routes. Please check the itravelyork and operator websites for the latest information: itravelyork.info
piccadilly car park is now closed.
Help us to ensure your waste/recycling collections can continue as normal, by following these steps:
Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags
double bag – these bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within your own room
this should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin
wipe down bins and boxes etc before and after collection
minimise the waste you throw away
So far this season the crews have treated the roads and trial cycle network on 22 occasions, using 1,100 tonnes of salt
each time our nine large and three mini gritters treat York’s network they cover around 390 kilometres of road, footways and cycle-paths, with up to 100 tonnes of salt
crews leave as early as 4am to ensure the city’s main roads, footpaths and cycle ways are treated
some circumstances affect when and how we spread grit, including, traffic, rain that can wash away grit, unexpected changes and temperatures below -5°C, which make grit less effective.
yellow warnings of ice expected to remain in York over the next week, meaning icy patches are expected to develop, especially on untreated surfaces
therefore, it is vital that people travel to the conditions and leave extra time to complete their journey.
the aim of the winter maintenance service is, as far as is reasonably possible, to allow the safe movement of traffic, pedestrians and cyclists, on York roads, footways and cycleway during times of adverse winter weather
it also seeks to keep delays and accidents to a minimum
precautionary treatment is undertaken before ice forms or snow settles on the highway
precautionary treatment will only be to footways and carriageways on the defined network, which excludes most footways, cycleway and all car parks
the gritting of cycle route networks forms part of our winter maintenance, unfortunately resources do not allow us to treat these as frequently as the primary network, these routes will be treated as and when resources becomes available.
With the current situation continuously evolving, it is incredibly important that residents, communities and visitors can access reliable and accurate information easily. To subscribe to direct email updates from City of York Council, visit: www.york.gov.uk/form/EmailUpdates
Whilst national restrictions are in force, City of York Council is expanding its symptom-free testing offer to local residents.
The Council is now expanding its testing to include anyone living or working in York who is unable to work from home during the lockdown and who come into contact with other people during the course of their work, including staff working in education and early years settings and those in factories or working in construction.
Testing continues to be offered to those who support the most vulnerable in the city, to school pupils who are eligible to attend school and to teachers who will be working in schools.
We advise that tests are booked regularly (every week), and that people get tested twice, 3 days apart. More test slots have been made available and residents are being encouraged to book their place now.
The Council is also working to identify more testing sites in the coming weeks. We are seeing a high demand for testing and are working hard to increase capacity so if people experience difficulties in booking please try again later when slots may have become available.
The Council is asking that those who are no longer going into school or work as a result of the national restrictions to cancel their appointment if they no longer need it. This will help provide tests to other residents who need a test urgently. You can do this by clicking the link in the confirmation email or visiting our booking website clicking the ‘reschedule or cancel your appointment’ option.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not display symptoms and therefore, some individuals will be spreading the virus without realising.
“That is why we are committed to offering symptom-free tests to help stop the spread of the virus. Given the recent changes in restrictions, we have expanded our criteria to offer it to those most likely to come into contact with others.
“We will be looking to open more testing sites in the coming weeks, and we are hugely grateful to York St John University for their support and other partners who are offering their help.”
Sharon Stoltz, Director for Public Health said:
The early identification of those who have coronavirus and subsequent self-isolation will really help us drive down the number of new cases.
“Thank you to the thousands who have been tested so far and book a slot. I would urge anyone who is eligible to get tested regularly to protect those they love as well as the wider York community. We would also be really grateful if those who no longer need a test as a result of the change in restrictions cancel their appointment so this slot can be offered to another resident who may need it urgently.
“If you have symptoms of Coronavirus please cancel your appointment and arrange a test through the NHS at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
“More venues will be opening across the city soon and we will share more details when we can.”
Yesterday’s announcement that more than £15 million of infrastructure schemes had been secured in North Yorkshire over the next 18 months – with £300,000 of funding going towards the York Guildhall offices project – will have been welcomed by many.
The money comes from the Government’s “Getting Building Fund” which “aims to boost economic recovery from Covid-19”.
According to a Council spokesman, the funding will now be used “for internal fit-out works” on the business club which will occupy much of the building.
That will come as a surprise to those who thought that the agreed £20.18 million budgetincluded all costs. Indeed, the option approved by the Council in February 2019, specifically identified £300,000 for “fixtures, fittings and furniture”.
Council report 2019. Option 1 was agreed
It seems that the only change is that this expenditure will now be funded from general taxation.
Even with this subsidy, and assuming that all offices and the on site restaurant, are all occupied, York Council taxpayers still face an annual bill of over £500,000.
An Executive meeting which took place last week was told in an update on the Guildhall project that “additional delays have meant that it is presently considered that these additional costs cannot be contained within the agreed contingency”.
The scale of the over expenditure was not revealed.
The Guildhall is not the only commercial portfolio project to come under scrutiny.
Some independent commentators are sceptical about the timing of the Councils £2.8 million acquisition of 25/27 Coney Street. Rent levels are now dropping and with them property valuations in some high streets. Coney Street is struggling more than most.
These include Ashbank (empty for 8 years), 29 Castlegate (3 years), Oakhaven (4 years) and Willow House (4 years 6 months).
Willow House stands abandoned with no sign of redevelopment work starting.
We now understand that Willow House – which was advertised for sale with Sanderson Weatherall – has been withdrawn from the market. The Council turned down a £3 million offer for the prime site shortly after it became available.
None of these properties are accommodating anyone.
All are incurring maintenance and security costs for taxpayers, while at the same time attracting no Business Rates or rent income.
At a time when local authorities are on their knees financially, poor resource management is a matter of concern.
here are 258 known cases of coronavirus in York out of a local population of 209,893. That is a rate of 1229 cases per million – the 142nd highest rate in England.
Government loans for small businesses but York grants scheme flops
The new government “Bounce Back Loan” scheme will launch on 4 May 2020.
The scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.
Meanwhile the York Council has still not provided an update on its grant schemefor “micro” businesses prompting concerns that the scheme was just a bit of “window dressing”. The scheme promised £1 million in funding.
Criticism of the Councils reaction to the health crisis is increasing in other areas. It appears that only a small proportion of the residents who volunteered to help have actually had their offers taken up while several businesses say they are continuing to deliver food in the City but were not included on the Councils recent advertising leaflet.
The York Council is expected next week to confirm an additional grant of £1/2 million to the Theatre Royal.
The plan – which will be classified as “capital expenditure” and will increase the Councils already large capital debt – was revealed during the recent budget debate.
Thereportto the decision meeting which take place on 16th March is unsatisfactory in several respects. It fails to include essential information about the Theatres financial performance.
As a minimum the 2018/19 outturn, the 2019/20 and the (draft) 2020/21 budget should be made public. At the moment taxpayers have no idea whether the Theatre is profitable or not (probably not!).
There is no detail of the Theatres medium term business plans. There is no comment from the York Councillors (Crawshaw, Daubeney, Mason) who are supposed to look after the Council and residents’ financial interests on the Theatre Board
In 2015 the Councildecided to sell the Theatre Royalbuilding to the York Conservation Trust for £1. The Trust is a benign body which agree to make a major investment in essential repairs. The Council said that it planned to stop its annual support grant to the Theatre but insteadagreedto make a contribution of £770,000 towards a £4.1 million restoration project. This project was intended to make the Theatre self-supporting. The Council’s responsible executive member told the York Press in February 2016 “This funding agreement will strengthen York Theatre Royal’s sustainability for the future”
The most worrying aspect of the new deal is the decision to borrow money to fund it. The Council report says that the £500,000 borrowing will cost taxpayers “£35,000 a year” in interest charges and principal repayments. Only if the Council borrows the money over a 20 year term. Some of the proposed expenditure (IT, box office software) will be on items with an expected lifetime of less than 7 years. Borrowing money over a period longer than the life of an asset would be financial madness.
A more realistic borrowing time-frame would be 10 years, meaning taxpayers would be committed to ongoing payments of around £65,000 a year.
NB The Council aggregates all its borrowing requirements and currently enjoys interest payments on its borrowings of less than 5%
Then there is the question of whether more investment will be sought in 4 years time?
The Council should not agree the expenditure without publishing a lot more information about the financial trajectory for the Theatre.
In the event of it ceasing trading, most of the taxpayer investment would be unrecoverable.
The demise of the Rose Theatre last year has already left the York taxpayer with a £40,000 plus bill.
It could be viewed by the Council as a timely warning about the need for prudent and well informed decisions.
Foxwood Residents Association officials are visiting the Coop shop on Beagle Ridge Drive this morning. They will be encouraging shoppers to nominate Foxwood as a beneficiary of a grants scheme set up by the Coop. The local residents Association gets a grant equal to 1% of the shopping bill of any participating member. This is a unique a “no cost” opportunity to help the local community.
As the cold weather continues to bite across the county, householders in York are being reminded that they can apply for up to 100%-funded grants to help insulate energy inefficient homes and reduce heating bills.
Funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Tackling Fuel Poverty Programme, the scheme, which has been running since early 2017, will help pay for the cost of topping up existing loft insulation or installing new cavity wall insulation.
Householders struggling to heat their homes and earning less than £20,000 a year combined income, can apply for 100% funding while 75% grants are available for those households earning between £20,000 and £35,000.
Residents who think they may be eligible should call City of York Council on 019040 552300 or email email@example.com.
To qualify, homes should have suitable, un-insulated cavity walls or minimal loft insulation.
A new two-year project to help improve the energy efficiency of the private homes of lower-income households in York is being launched this week by City of York Council.
Grants and loans will be available to less well off households towards the cost of cavity wall and loft insulation. A small number of grants are also available to insulate loft extensions and solid walls.
Households with annual incomes below £20,000 per year could receive 100 per cent funding whilst those with annual incomes between £20,000 and £35,000 could receive 75 per cent towards the cost of the improvements.
Qualifying households will be in the five priority wards:
These have been identified as having higher numbers of poorly-insulated privately rented or owned homes and where households suffer higher rates of fuel poverty.
City of York Council will be working with Willmott Dixon to deliver these energy efficiency measures through the Better Homes Yorkshire framework set up to support the ten local authorities in the Leeds City Region to work together to secure funding and improve properties.
This funding follows the council’s Northern Health and Housing Summit ‘Better Homes, Better Health’ held in York in June this year, when the impact of cold and how to tackle it was a central theme.
Research commissioned by the council from the Building Research Establishment identified that cold homes are associated with a range of poor health outcomes such as respiratory andcirculatory problems, and can exacerbate certain conditions including asthma, diabetes. Recovery following hospital discharge can also take longer and sometimes increases the risk of conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Eligible residents living in the priority wards who need cavity wall or loft insulation should contact the council’s Housing Standards and Adaptations team on 01904 552300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents not living in these wards but who have low incomes with high heating costs may also be eligible for help and should also call 01904 552300.
For help with energy debts or other advice contact Citizens Advice York on 03444 111 444, visit www.yorkcab.org.uk; or contact Age UK York on 01904 627995. (more…)
York residents and businesses can now complete and submit their application for up to £5,000 flooding support at the click of a button.
The application form for the national Flood Resilience Grant is now available to complete online at www.york.gov.uk/FloodResilienceGrants and can be completed and returned electronically. The national grant provides up to £5,000 to support the resistance and resilience of property flooded as a result of Storm Desmond and Storm Eva as part of a national package of financial support available.
The resilience grant will enable those who have been flooded to better prepare their homes for future flood events, both to prevent flood water from entering the property and to speed the recovery if it does.
The council has already received over 70 applications for the grant, with many hundreds of queries about the funding taken.
A new case worker, jointly funded by City of York Council and Two Ridings Foundation has recently been appointed to help guide people through the grant process.