2020/05/02 Useful contacts from Lancashire County Councillor, Phillippa Williamson

Some useful contacts for you

Lancashire County Council

T: 0300 123 6701

Minicom: 01254 220 666

E: enquiries@lancashire.gov.uk

Website: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/your-health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lancashirecc

twitter – @LancashireCC.

Lancashire Resilience Forum – you can follow them @LancsResilience.

Public Health England is continuing to publish confirmed cases of coronavirus, and give specifics for each part of the country, including Lancashire, on their gov.uk website.

Lancaster City Council

T: 01524 582000

E: customerservices@lancaster.gov.uk (for residents)

E: econdev@lancaster.gov.uk (for businesses)

NHS Status Checker – The Coronavirus Status checker was launched on the 4 April 2020. The information gathered will help the NHS to plan its response to the outbreak. You can more at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nhs-asks-people-to-share-their-coronavirus-symptoms-to-help-others?

Highways – If you want to report a Highways fault you can do this on line at: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/report-it/

Household Waste – If you spot any fly tipping, please report this to Lancaster City Council on 01524 582000 or online at https://www.lancaster.gov.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp?fm_fid=228

Supporting Business – Businesses can find out more about the #AskforHelp online at www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk/askforhelp, or call 0800 488 0057.

The Government has several financial support schemes to help businesses pay their bills and pay their staff. These include grants of £10,000 cash grant to small businesses, grants of £25,000 to those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (subject to rateable value), increased Business Rates Relief, a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and support for the self-employed.

More information and links on how to apply for financial support is available on Lancaster City Council’s website or you can contact their business support team at

econdev@lancaster.gov.uk or 01524 582000.

Libraries – You can renew items on line at renewing online or using the automated phone line 0300 123 6704.

Help Paying Bills – If you’re struggling to pay your council tax the council can help, including restructuring your payments. You can do this by emailing ctax@lancaster.gov.uk. There is also a council tax support scheme for residents on low incomes. You may get up to 100% support in paying your bills. Residents in receipt of Universal Credit, are also likely to be eligible for full council tax support, More information is available from the customer services centre 01524 582000 or customerservices@lancaster.gov.uk.

Emergency Food – If you are aware of someone who needs help, you can find the contact details of people and organisations who can make a referral on www.lancasterdistrictcovid19.org.uk. If you don’t have access to the internet you can telephone the food hub on 01524 932001.

If you are just struggling to get out yourself to buy essential food, drink and household supplies, you can find a list of local retailers that are able to deliver at www.lmds.co.uk or phone 01524 932001.

Scams – Events such the coronavirus outbreak, bring out the scammers and fraudsters. Advice on scams is available on the Action Fraud website at www.actionfraud.police.uk or you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 2231133.

Volunteering – There are many organisations that would welcome you as volunteers, either individually or as part of an organised group. Lancaster District CVS are coordinating volunteers to support community organisations across the district. To volunteer, you can phone the CVS or visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/cvsvolunteers and fill in the form to register your interest.

If you are part of group providing mutual support at this time, and it hasn’t connected with either the CVS or the city council, please email civilcontingencies@lancaster.gov.uk so that they can support you in your work.

The County Council has published a new 7 minute briefing for use during the COVID-19 pandemic intended as an introduction to safeguarding guidance for volunteers at:

http://www.lancashiresafeguarding.org.uk/news/covid-19-and-safeguarding-for-volunteers.aspx

Job Opportunities The County Council has launched a campaign to recruit more social care staff for Lancashire to meet the extra demand that the coronavirus crisis is creating. This will run over the next couple of weeks. If you know anyone who may be interested, information is at: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/jobs/carers/.

2020/04/27 Consumer Alert – April 2020

Price Increases for Goods

The Service is receiving a number of complaints about shops excessively increasing the prices of goods, particularly food stuffs and sanitisation products that are in high demand.  Whilst suppliers are free to set their own prices, Trading Standards work closely with the Competition and Markets Authority and will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law.

Reports have also been received regarding misleading claims being made about the efficacy of protective equipment and sanitisation products.  Please report such practices to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 2231133.

Bogus Coronavirus Testing Kits

Lancashire Police have received reports of door to door sales people offering “home Coronavirus testing kits”.  Please be aware, such items are fake, no such testing facility is currently available to the public in the UK.

The Police have also received reports of cold callers selling hand sanitiser, masks and rubber gloves and whilst this may not be a scam, this Service would urge you against purchasing these items from anyone other than recognised retailers.

There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser being sold containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.

Beware Property Repair Cold Callers

Trading Standards have received reports of householders being cold called by property repairers and are concerned that rogue traders may take advantage of the current situation, targeting older or vulnerable residents who are self-isolating or shielding.  

In South Ribble recently, an elderly gentleman, after being cold called, agreed to have his drive and patio jet washed, the price of initially £7000 was reduced to £3500, but when Trading Standards intervened, the traders alleged a misunderstanding, the price being £350.   In Fleetwood a householder agreed to groundworks and fencing but was concerned that the monies, over £12,000 were excessive.  Reports have also been received regarding cold callers  currently offering roofing services in the Burnley area.

In the Garstang area a lady in her 80’s received a flyer offering gardening services.  The traders arrived at her house within 10 minutes of her contacting them, giving her no time to think, and after just over an hours work charged her £750 for cutting back a conifer. The lady felt bullied into paying this excessive amount for poor quality work.

Trading Standards advice is to say no to cold callers, always get a written quote before agreeing to any work and remember for most contracts agreed at your home you should be given a 14 day cooling off period in writing.

Bogus Gas Man

A vulnerable lady in Thornton Cleveleys received a knock on her door from a man claiming to work for the gas board stating it had shown up on their computer that she had a leak.  Coincidentally she had recently had a legitimate gas repairman out to her property.  The bogus caller looked at the meter but then called his ‘boss’ on the telephone who told her she would have to pay to have a tree outside her house, trimmed down.  The lady argued that the tree was not her responsibility and got the individual to leave.  It is suspected the callers may be linked to a bogus roofing job she had previously had done.

Be suspicious of utility providers turning up unannounced at your door.  Always ask for  identification but check independently with the utility company.  In most cases you will have received a letter in advance letting you know work will take place.

Trading Standards advice is to always say no to cold callers.  The Safetrader scheme can help you find a trader in your area, contact 0303 333 1111 or go to www.safetrader.org.uk

Scammers Shopping for Elderly

A number of genuine community groups across the County are setting up, offering to help the elderly and vulnerable with tasks such as shopping.  Although we are unaware of problems in the county so far, there is the potential for scammers to take advantage of the situation, taking payment up front, and not returning.  Reports of such incidents have already been received in the Rochdale area where the scammers pretended to be from the council. 

It is understood in some cases criminals have claimed to represent charities to help them appear reputable

Be particularly wary of those going door to door, offering these services with no paperwork and contact details.  Anyone claiming to be from a charity should have ID.  Genuine schemes should be properly organised, with clear paperwork and should give you the option of responding or not.

Telesales Calls  – White Goods Insurance

Please be wary of telephone calls offering warranties for white goods.  Often the callers can be persistent, repeatedly calling the householder and once you have agreed to a warranty, you can be targeted by other similar calls.  In one case a man, suffering with dementia, had given his bank card details to several of these companies, paying around £90 each time.   In another case a customer had paid £1800.

Please be wary of contracting with companies via a telesales call.  Trading Standards advice is to shop around and use local, known service providers.  Remember, you will have cancellation rights of 14 days for most contracts agreed over the telephone.

To reduce telesales calls join the Telephone Preference Service on 03450 700707

Telephone Scams  – Bit Coin Scam

As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company

In a recent telephone scam, a Lancashire resident who had paid out £18,000 for a Bit Coin investment over 3 years ago received a telephone call from a scam company claiming they had been ordered by the bank to refund her the investment money.  They needed her bank account details and would also need a payment from her of £2000 which luckily the resident didn’t pay.

COVID-19 Email Tax Scam

Beware emails alleging to be from HM Revenue and Customs offering a precautionary tax measure due to the coronavirus outbreak ‘in co-operation with National Insurance and National Health Services’.  The scam email asks you to click on a link for a refund of £128.34.   

HMRC will never contact you in this way, be suspicious of emails alleging to be from government services and never click on any link or give your personal or financial details.

Scam emails from WHO

Hackers are sending emails pretending to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO).  The email claims that the attached document details how recipients can prevent the spread of the disease.  Clicking on the attachment gives the hackers the opportunity to infect the computer with malicious software.  If you would like to read information given out by the WHO, go directly to their official website.

Donation Scam Emails

Beware receiving any email claiming to be from researchers asking for donations.  One such email claimed to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, downloading to a fake Microsoft login page requesting email and password.  Another scam claims to be collecting donations for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Bogus online suppliers

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified reports where victims have attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent online sellers, payment is taken but the goods never arrive. 

Reports have also been received of social feeds offering for sale anti-virus kits and telesales calls selling health supplements that supposedly prevent COVID-19.

Always use known, reputable online suppliers.  Best advice for any transactions over £100 is to pay by credit card for extra protection.

Beware of Fake Online Resources

Such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.

Holiday Refund Scams

Beware of companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.

Illegal Money Lenders

Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through possible threats and violence.

Ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice if you have debt problems.

For advice and to report scams, contact the Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133

2020/04/27 Guidance regarding current and forthcoming Religious festivals

To Community, Faith and Voluntary Groups,

We would like to share with you some guidance around Religious festivals –

During Ramadan, Muslim residents are being asked not to visit mosques but to continue to stay at home and pray.

 In view of the current situation with the increasing numbers in Covid related deaths, restrictions remain in place for the foreseeable future. In fact, further restrictions could be imposed if the situation does not improve.

 Taking this into account, with the holy month of Ramadan upon us, Imams and community leaders need to prepare the community for Ramadan in isolation.

 In line with the Government guidance and the current agreed arrangements those individuals who are employed as Imams who fall in the low risk category from each Mosque are allowed to attend the Mosque for prayers and undertake the spiritual and pastoral service that they provide to our communities. Other employees e.g. caretaker, admin officer of Mosques who need access are permitted to enter by exception and on a case-by-case basis.

 The Lancashire Resilience Forum is working closely with representatives of all faith groups across Lancashire to communicate a range of issues around faith, religion and culture during this difficult time.

 Neil Shaw, Chair of Lancashire Resilience Forum’s Faith group said: “We are consulting with all faith groups. We understand that during Ramadan, many Muslims take advantage of this month by engaging in prayers and spending more time at their local mosque.  This Ramadan will be different and to help communities fulfil their faith obligations we would encourage that although national physical distancing measures are in place that communities stay socially connected through non-physical contact such as phone, social media and video.

 “We know that this is a very difficult time for everyone, but please continue to stay safe and pray at home especially during Ramadan and adhere to the Government guidelines around social distancing, which we know saves lives.”

 Most Imams are already delivering speeches on a daily basis through their public address systems and may want to continue to use this platform to deliver the key messages and spiritual guidance to the community.

 Rafiq Sufi, Chair of Lancashire Council of Mosques said: “Everyone has a duty to follow the Government’s request to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. I urge residents to follow the instruction and avoid getting together with people outside of their immediate household to partake in Iftaar meals or Taraweeh when Ramadan starts end of next week.”

 Other festivals which will be affected by government guidelines to stay at home, include the upcoming Pagan Festival, Beltane, on 1st May. The Pagan Federation will be running an online Beltane festival on Facebook.com/paganfederation

 21st May Ascension Day and 31st May, Pentecost Sunday, are also key dates within the Christian community when traditionally there is a tradition of walks and outdoor services.

The Preston Nagar Kirtan scheduled for 17th May has been cancelled by the Sikh community.

 Neil Shaw added: “We thank the local communities for abiding to what is difficult to sacrifice, as these worships are core to people’s faith. We appreciate these are difficult times and we need the whole community to co-operate and trust the process to be balanced and respectful of the broad needs of the community.”

2020/04/27 Lancashire Resilience Forum update

Lancashire Resilience Forum, supporting the County throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – for the latest PDF bulletin please click on the link below:

LRF Update 17th April (1)

2020/04/24 NHS still open and Suicide prevention campaign

During the Governments press conference last Friday on the coronavirus pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted people with health concerns besides suspected COVID-19 should go through the usual services. There is a worry that people are putting themselves or their loved ones at risk by not seeking help when it’s needed. NHS services are still open and  anyone suffering with a health issue and has doubts should not hesitate to seek help. The current guidance is that if you need to use the NHS for reasons other than coronavirus, first call your GP or call 111 and if its life threatening call 999. If you or someone you know is seriously ill, please don’t let that put you off going into hospital for an emergency. Hospitals have COVID-free areas to look after people with all different needs.

We’re open – let us help you

The message is: “we’re open, let us help you”. There is a worry that people are putting themselves or their loved ones at risk by not seeking urgent help when it’s needed.

The people of Morecambe Bay have been brilliant at staying home to save lives, but if you or someone you are with shows signs of a serious, life-threatening Illness or injury they must go to hospital.

There’s a worry that people who may be experiencing a heart attack or stroke are putting off coming to hospital.

A&E attendances at our three hospitals are now 66% fewer than the same time last year. The NHS is under immense pressure, but these illnesses and diseases haven’t gone away.

All of our NHS services are still open and anyone suffering with a health issue and has doubts should not hesitate to seek help. We would rather they called 999 or attended an A&E to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.

People can be nervous at the best of times about coming into hospital, and we understand the feeling of uncertainty right now during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Doctors and Nurses may look a little different at the moment, but it’s for everyone’s safety.

If you are seriously ill, please don’t let that put you off coming to hospital for an emergency.

We have COVID-free areas to look after people with different needs.

Health chiefs across Morecambe Bay are urging people not to put off getting help when they need it.

Suicide prevention campaign launches to tackle COVID-19 fallout

Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) has launched a suicide prevention campaign encouraging residents to “keep talking” throughout the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.

Real-time reports of suspected suicides have increased in Lancashire and South Cumbria as people stay home during lockdown and self-isolation. To tackle this, the ICS has created materials to share on social media and via local community hubs asking people to call their friends and family and keep talking by text, phone and video call, while social-distancing measures are in place.

The four main audiences are:

 Young people and older teenagers used to spending lots of time with their friends

 Parents who are juggling home working and home schooling

 Men who have been furloughed, made redundant or who are self-employed

 Older and vulnerable people who are self-isolating.

2020/04/25 County Council need more paid carers

URGENT – County Council need Carers

Lancashire County Council is committed to helping keep the most vulnerable people in our county safe and supported as we face the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus.

As a county council we know this is something we cannot do on our own.  We need to come together across Lancashire during this uncertain and difficult time to make sure we can safeguard our most vulnerable residents, particularly those who are currently in a care setting.

We are now urgently recruiting more paid carers to care for our most vulnerable residents so if you are caring, responsible and good with people, please get in touch. 

Your role will involve making a difference to vulnerable peoples’ lives by supporting them with everyday tasks that they now struggle to do without some help.

You may be based in a residential home providing specialised support or be asked to provide more general support for people with a variety of care needs.

If you have recently left a role in the care sector or have previous experience in a care setting we would love to hear from you. If you don’t have any experience but want to help out, please get in touch too as experience is not essential.

This is no small role, every time you support someone with personal care it helps make a direct impact on helping our collective fight against the virus.

Join our care team

Please visit our website for more information and simply complete the form on the page to register your interest and we will get in touch www.lancashire.gov.uk/jobs/carers

2020/04/09 Consumer alerts from Lancashire County Council – April 2020

Beware Property Repair Cold Callers

Trading Standards have received reports of householders being cold called by property repairers and are concerned that rogue traders may take advantage of the current situation, targeting older or vulnerable residents who are self-isolating or shielding.  

In South Ribble an elderly gentleman, after being cold called, agreed to have his drive and patio jet washed, the price of initially £7000 was reduced to £3500, but when Trading Standards intervened, the traders alleged a misunderstanding, the price being £350.   In Fleetwood a householder agreed to groundworks and fencing but was concerned that the monies, over £12,000 were excessive.  Reports have also been received regarding cold callers offering roofing services in the Burnley area.

In the Garstang area a lady in her 80’s received a flyer offering gardening services.  The traders arrived at her house within 10 minutes of her contacting them, giving her no time to think, and after just over an hours work charged her £750 for cutting back a conifer. The lady felt bullied into paying this excessive amount for poor quality work.

Best advice is to get a written quote before agreeing to any work and remember for most contracts agreed at your home you should be given a 14 day cooling off period in writing.

Bogus Gas Man

A vulnerable lady in Thornton Cleveleys received a knock on her door from a man claiming to work for the gas board stating it had shown up on their computer that she had a leak.  Coincidentally she had recently had a legitimate gas repairman out to her property.  The bogus caller looked at the meter but then called his ‘boss’ on the telephone who told her she would have to pay to have a tree outside her house, trimmed down.  The lady argued that the tree was not her responsibility and got the individual to leave.  It is suspected the callers may be linked to a bogus roofing job she had previously had done.

Be suspicious of utility providers turning up unannounced at your door.  Always ask for  identification but check independently with the utility company.  In most cases you will have received a letter in advance letting you know work will take place.

Trading Standards advice is to always say no to cold callers.  The Safetrader scheme can help you find a trader in your area, contact 0303 333 1111 or go to www.safetrader.org.uk

White Goods Insurance

Please be wary of telephone calls offering warranties for white goods.  Often the callers can be persistent, repeatedly calling the householder and once you have agreed to a warranty, you can be targeted by other similar calls.  In one case a man, suffering with dementia, had given his bank card details to several of these companies, paying around £90 each time.   In another case a customer had paid £1800.  Remember, you will have cancellation rights of 14 days for most contracts agreed over the telephone.

To reduce telesales calls join the Telephone Preference Service on 03450 700707

Bit Coin Scam

Be wary of telephone calls stating they can claim money back for previously paid investments.

A Lancashire resident who had paid out £18,000 for a Bit Coin investment over 3 years ago received a telephone call from a scam company claiming they had been ordered by the bank to refund her the investment money.  They needed her bank account details and would also need a payment from her of £2000.

Contact the Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133

 

2020/04/07 HMRC update

Updated information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

I can now confirm that the employer guidance and guidance for employees have been further updated in line with some of the main queries we have received from stakeholders. Whilst all the guidance has been refreshed, the main areas I would draw your attention to are:

  • the more detailed information on scheme eligibility

  • further information on how to calculate a claim

  • clarification of what constitutes wages.

I would encourage you to please review the links above if you would like more information about the scheme.

We will continue to keep you informed to ensure that you have access to the assistance you need.

Yours sincerely

Jim Harra

First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive – HMRC

2020/04/07 NHS coronavirus status checker

The NHS are asking people to log their coronavirus symptoms to help others and build up data on COVID-19. The Coronavirus Status checker was launched on the 4th April and people with possible symptoms are being asked to answer a few questions . The information gathered will help the NHS to plan its response to the outbreak, indicating when and where more resources like oxygen, ventilators and additional staff might be needed and will provide valuable insight into the development and progression of the virus across the country. Information collected by the NHS Coronavirus Status Checker will form part of a core national COVID-19 dataset held by the NHS.

The tool is live now and people can complete the survey either for themselves or on behalf of someone else with their permission.

It asks them:

·         Why they are staying at home

·         To choose from a series of options to describe how they are feeling

·         Whether they have any other health problems

·         Their date of birth

·         Their postcode

·         How many people are living in their home.

2020/04/04 – Info from Morecambe Bay Partnership

We’re thinking of you

All of us at Morecambe Bay Partnership are thinking of you – our friends and supporters. We hope that you are comfortable and finding ways to adapt to new circumstances.  Please let us know if there’s something we can help with.

Like you, we’re looking out for our friends and family. Our team quickly got used to video meetings from home, but juggling childcare is… well you can imagine, let’s be positive, and call it haphazard.

Once we can, we’re greatly looking forward to welcoming you back to our events to care for the Bay we all love.  Meanwhile stay home, stay safe and look out for one another.

We’ll get through this together

Hooray for NHS and all key workers, as well as local support groups – springing up everywhere. A wonderful sign of community spirit and energy.  This gentle kindness echoing through our communities will get us through these days together. If you need help and can’t find a group local to you, please let us know, we can help.

Now more than ever, we’ll be pleased to hear from you if you want to get in touch

#Stayathome
Beat boredom with stories of the Bay

Our Recording Morecambe Bay Website holds a huge array of fascinating stories and archaeological records from our collection.

Lose yourself in memories from our oral history archives – from shrimping tales to the Super Swimming Stadium – you can enjoy voices from all corners of the Bay.

You can also explore virtual 3-D models of archaeological sites, discover new historical research or simply enjoy old maps, photographs and information about our shared history.

Not sure where to start? Try the Morecambe Bay Lives Podcasts, the history of Jenny Brown’s Point or stories of our fishing industry – music, voices, animations and beautiful images – just check Catching Tales.

We’ll keep sharing stories on social media and would love to hear your stories and memories and see your old photographs too.

Think before you flush!

Only the 3Ps “pee, poo and toilet paper” should be flushed – a timely reminder from Hannah, our LOVEmyBEACH Officer.

Kitchen roll, wet wipes, newspaper and even socks are being used and causing blockages in the sewers and problems in septic tanks.  “If you’re stuck, and using alternatives, they go in the bin, not down the loo,” said Hannah.
Stick to flushing only the 3Ps to keep our sewers clear and beaches safe and clean for everyone. Learn more at https://lovemybeach.org/at-home/