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A message from SECAmb

We are aware of a voice message being shared currently on social media regarding the ambulance response to coronavirus. The alarmist information being shared in the message is not correct. We would urge people to disregard the message and not share it further.

In line with our ongoing plans during this challenging time, we are continuing to follow national guidelines regarding the ambulance response and thank the public for their ongoing support in following the government’s advice

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Covid-19 Facebook mutual aid group Maidstone and Park Wood

This Facebook groupss are to coordinate the community organising to support the most vulnerable and isolated in our community during the Covid-19 outbreak. Each area in Maidstone is divided up by District Wards.

For the Group covering Maidstone Borough go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/482849969285931/about/

For the Park Wood Group go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/2581530595415032/

Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK is also supporting local community groups organising mutual aid throughout the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. This support network is focusing on providing resources and connecting people to their nearest local groups, willing volunteers and those in need. 
To find what kind of support is available in your local area, please visit the Covid-19 Mutual Aid website.

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Release the pressure

A new text service has been launched across Kent and Medway for people of all ages needing mental health support.

As part of the Release the Pressure campaign, the texts are free on all major mobile networks and the service is provided by SHOUT and the Crisis Text Line.

By texting the word “Kent” to 85258, you will start a conversation with one of the many trained and experienced volunteers who can give support at any time, wherever you are. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.

The service will run in addition to the current 24/7 freephone helpline and is funded by the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which is a collaboration between Kent County Council, Medway Council, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and all the NHS organisations across Kent and Medway. You can find out more about the Release the Pressure helpline, the new text service and other community mental health support services by visiting www.releasethepressure.uk

It is free for the majority of phone networks – for full details see here  https://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/release-the-pressure/release-the-pressure-text-service The service is provided by the national charity Shout. You can read more about how the service is provided here https://www.giveusashout.org/

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Life cafe project

Mon – Fri | 12 – 2pm Commencing Tuesday, April 7th 

Fusion Maidstone will be opening as a food bank and providing necessary assistance for the elderly, children in need & NHS workers in Park Wood & surrounding area i.e.:  

Delivery of free school meals

Prescription collections and more 

Please contact Mon- Fri: 01622 801337 or Email: team@lifecafeproject.com or visit here

This is a charity based volunteer project managed by Celebration Church & St Peter’s Church supported by fantastic community partners 

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Digital Mindfulness Course

Opportunity available to Early Help Teams, for young people to sign up to a 5 session Digital Mindfulness Course developed to help them cope whilst in the current isolation period.

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Salus virtual youth club

The Salus Youth Team are offering virtual youth sessions to young people aged between 8-19 years. The sessions include language lessons, make up tutorials, quizzes and fun games with new topics and suggestions being added each week.

Go to: https://salusgroup.org.uk/virtual-youth-sessions-6th-10th-april-2020/

If interested you will need to send an email to e-youthservicebookings@salusgroup.org.uk with the session, time, date, young person’s age and email address that you would like them to send the invite too.

You will need to download the Zoom app on your device (e.g. phone or PC) in order to be added to the session. You will receive an email before the sessions with a code to join a meeting. On your app you will then click on join and type the number given in the email to access the session

We are making all our youth services available online, including opportunities for you to talk to youth workers and friends, as well as lots of new activities for you to try.

Select your area using the link below to find out what’s on and join in.

https://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/young-people/online-youth-services

If you can’t find anything in your area that interests you, you can try signing up for services in other areas, although some sessions have limited places and may be reserved for local young people first.

More services will be added as and when they become available, so check the page regularly to see what’s new.

Byadmin

Amazon Audible Books

For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.

All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. No payment card required. https://stories.audible.com/start-listen

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Coronavirus Domestic Violence

Safe lives have a website which has all the advice and resources needed for anyone dealing with domestic violence. Go here to find out more.

As we are all aware, those experiencing domestic abuse at this time of self-isolation and social anxiety may be more at risk and escalations are likely so if you or anyone you know need support and advice please don’t hesitate to contact the following agencies and call 999 in an emergency

Choices Domestic Abuse Services: 0800 917 9948

National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247

The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327

The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428

Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123

Kent Police Support 

Medway Domestic Abuse Service (MDAS)

Refuge: Runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which you can call for free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247

Childline 0800 1111 

Women’s rights advice 

Safety planning SaveLives – Ending Domestic Abuse

If you are the abuser, and you need help to stop, you can access support through:

End the fear

White Ribbon: Corona Crisis: Survival Kit for Men Under Pressure

If you or someone else is suffering from domestic abuse please visit our Domestic Abuse page for advice and more information.

For information on who to contact view the following link: Whoever you are, social isolation is not an excuse for domestic abuse.

Domestic Violence UK

Domestic Violence UK have compiled a list of 73 organisations providing either helplines, call-backs or email and web chat support services. This list can be accessed here.

DAVVS

As a result of the coronavirus we have suspended all face-to-face services as per government advice.

To ensure that vulnerable victims of abuse get the support they need at this difficult time, we have expanded volunteer support services via our helpline – doubling opening hours and providing a named volunteer Advisor working from home to support people by telephone for as long as needed.

Our helpline is open Monday – Friday between 10am – 4pm.  Helpline number 01892 570538

We continue to accept referrals from partner organisations and self-referrals via our website: https://www.davss.org.uk/referral/

DAVSS trained Volunteers are rostered to answer the telephone Helpline, receive telephone calls from clients, and support them with risk assessments, safety and action planning, including legal options. Clients are assigned a named volunteer to provide on-going support and support to court.

Volunteers discuss by telephone legal options with victims and support them to make decisions and take action to make them and their children safe, including carrying out risk assessments, safety planning, assistance to prepare documentation for court, and support by telephone during and after court.

We also provide telephone support explaining the court process to victims’ children if needed and supporting children as their parent seeks legal protection (victims are often too traumatised to do this and say they and their children greatly appreciate this support)

Most courts have closed, making it more difficult to obtain protection orders.  As a result of advocacy by DAVSS Support-to-court (STC) Manager and a volunteer, protection orders are considered by the judge via telephone. This has enabled victims to obtain the protection they need. Unfortunately all Freedom and ACE Recovery courses booked for this spring had to be cancelled and we will book them when all is back to normal.

Rail to refuge

From today, people fleeing domestic abuse anywhere in Britain during the coronavirus lockdown can apply for free train travel to refuge accommodation, through a partnership between train companies and Women’s Aid. Click here for more information

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Self isolation booklet

Please see the images below or dowload the booklet here:

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Blue Badge

Face to face assessments

High impact

We are currently unable to offer any Blue Badge face to face assessments.

Our assessment team will be in contact with any applicant that already has an appointment booked, and we are taking every measure to continue to assess applicants using alternative assessment methods where possible.

If we need to hold your application because of this temporary freeze on appointments, we will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please do not contact us regarding these appointments unless you receive an email from us asking you to contact us directly.

Application processing

Medium impact

Application processing may take longer than usual during this period, but the assessment team are continuing to progress applications as normal.

Adding additional documentation:

If any applicant would like to submit further information or evidence from a professional to support their application, you can upload this using our self-service portal or email this to imaadmin@kent.gov.uk. This evidence should give information about how applicants are impacted when mobilising outside of the home environment, and details of any conditions which impact the applicant when mobilising.

Postal applications:

We also may struggle to process post at this time, which will delay applications either being made or already in progress using this postal route. To ensure that your application is not delayed, please use the self-service portal to upload any documents to support your application.

New applications:

If you need to make a new application, please use the online application form. We will try our hardest to process all paper applications, but any application or information received by us after this date using Royal Mail may be delayed.

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Children’s social care

Adoption

Find out more about adoption in Kent and their up and coming information events by visiting the Kent Adoption website.

Fostering

Find out more about adoption in Kent and their up and coming information events by visiting the Kent Fostering website.

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Driver Education

Courses

Courses

Medium impact

Due to social distancing regulations that are currently in force, we will continue to provide online courses for the following courses:

  • National Speed Awareness Course
  • National Motorway Awareness Course
  • What’s Driving Us Course
  • Safe and Considerate Driving Course

Please book your course online.

The Rider Intervention Development Experience Course (RIDE) is currently not being offered. For further information please email KDE@kent.gov.uk or visit the NDORS website.

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Education

Nursery places for children of key workers

Low impact

Early years and childcare settings and schools are currently open. However there there may be occasions when this is temporarily prohibited for a particular school or setting for reasons related to Covid-19. If you cannot find a childcare place for your child, please contact us:

For nursery and childcare settings:
Email kentcfis@theeducationpeople.org
Call 03000 41 23 23

Alternatively you can read:

Special educational needs and disability (SEND), Kent’s local offer

Medium impact

For more information and for details of the temporary new law about education health and care plans and assessments, read our guidance for families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment requests

Medium impact

We want to ensure that, as far as is possible, our services to children, young people and their families are maintained. However, postal services and our internal processing of mail is severely impacted. Our SEN officers are able to work remotely so we hope to continue with our work without too much disruption

If you would like to request an assessment of your child’s education, health and care needs, please could you could send a short email to let us know that you wish to make a request and provide your contact details. We will then get back to you with information about next steps and to arrange how you can share any information about your child with us.

If you’re unable to contact us by email, we would be happy to receive a request over the phone during this period.

For our contact details please visit the SEND team page.

Chaperone licence DBS checks

High impact

Unfortunately, the service for the ID checks for a DBS is now on hold until further notice due to current government advice. This will be reviewed regularly.

You are still able to continue with your chaperone application but there will be a delay in your licence being issued due to the DBS checks being on hold. If you chose to continue with the application, we will be able to inform you once this service has been resumed.

Children in entertainment licences

High impact

Due to the government’s new rules on staying at home and away from others, we have suspended the issuing of performance licences, Body of Persons Approvals and work permits until further notice. This will be regularly reviewed, and arrangements adjusted accordingly as and when the guidance changes.

If you need to contact us for any queries regarding this, please call 03000 420883 or email childemploymentandentertainment@kent.gov.uk.

Children Centres

Medium impact

We have now opened 12 children’s centres:

  • Bluebells Children’s Centre
  • Buckland Children’s Centre
  • Folkestone Early Years Children’s Centre
  • Greenfields Children’s Centre
  • Little Forest Children’s Centre
  • Little hands Children’s Centre
  • Murston Children’s Centre
  • Oakfield Children’s Centre
  • Riverside Children’s Centre
  • Sixbells Children’s Centre
  • Swanley Children’s Centre (partial reopen with Swanley Youth Hub)
  • Woodlands Children’s Centre.

For their opening times please visit our children’s centre page.

Byadmin

Health

Health visiting service

Medium impact

The health visiting service is operating on a reduced basis.

If you are pregnant, we will be in contact with you.

If you have a new baby (between 10 and 14 days old) we will offer you a face to face appointment at home.

We’ll also arrange virtual sessions (by Skype or WhatsApp) when your baby is:

  • 6 to 8 weeks old
  • 9 to 12 months old
  • and 2 to 2 and a half years old.

We may be able to offer face to face sessions in some circumstances.

Two to three healthy child clinics are run in each district every week. Appointments are available, following triage, on a bookable basis through your local duty line.

We have also launched Solihull online parenting courses. These free online courses are for anyone pregnant or caring for a child in Kent up to the age of 19

Visit our health visiting service page for contact details of our local teams and duty line numbers.

Immunisations

Medium impact

The Kent and Medway Immunisation Service has restarted the 0 to 19 vaccination programme. Any child or young person that missed a vaccination this year during the school closures, will either be offered an appointment at a catch up clinic or be seen in the new academic year at their school.

HPV 1 and 2: summer catch up clinics are being held for anyone that missed their HPV vaccinations due to school closures and lockdown. All other missed HPV vaccinations will be given in the new academic year when the team visits schools.

Td/IPV MenACWY: children who missed their vaccination in 2020 (year 9) will be offered this during school year 10 in Spring 2021. Next year’s school year 9 will be invited as usual.

Flu: the nasal flu vaccination programme will be offered to all children at primary school between October and December 2020. This vaccination will also be offered to children in year 7 this year. Parents will receive details of how to consent via an online portal nearer the time.

Other vaccinations: if you believe that your child has missed any other vaccination please contact our team and we will be able to advise you.

The immunisation team has put together some frequently asked questions here for anyone concerned at the current time. For more information please visit the Kent Community Health NHS website.

To contact the team email kchft.cyp-immunisationteam@nhs.net or call 0300 123 5205.

Infant feeding services

High impact

Breastfeeding drop in groups have been stopped.

Those requiring breastfeeding support are encouraged to:

For those mothers or babies with complex feeding needs, the specialist service will continue to operate and referrals should be made via the Kent Community Health NHS website.

Live Well Kent

Low impact

Live Well Kent services in all areas are continuing to provide support while adapting the way they work to follow the latest official advice and guidance across Kent.

If you are currently being supported by a Live Well Kent service, they will be in touch with more information about how they can continue to support you. If you have any questions or need to speak to someone, please contact the particular service that is supporting you.

The service are still accepting referrals, so if you need support or need to refer someone you can call their referral line 0800 567 7699, email info@livewellkent.org.uk or contact services directly.

For up to date information and advice about the coronavirus, please visit our Live Well Kent coronavirus webpage.

For support about managing your mental health during this difficult time please visit one of the following websites:

If you require further support please call 0800 567 7699.

NHS Health Checks

High impact

The NHS Health Checks service has been suspended until further notice.

No new appointments will be made and all patients with existing appointments will have received a notification of appointment cancellation.

One You Kent Ashford shop

High impact

Unfortunately the One You Kent shop in Ashford is now closed to the public and all groups and events have been postponed.

One You Kent healthy lifestyle service

Medium impact

We are offering advice by telephone and video calls as well as virtual groups (this service may vary depending on where you live).

Due to an increase in demand you may have to wait a while before getting an appointment with a smokefree adviser.

You may be directed to other types of support while you are waiting including mobile apps and websites.

Complete our referral form and a friendly advisor will call you to talk through the options in your area.

For more information about how we can help you please visit our One You Kent website.

One You Kent health walks

High impact

All health walks have been suspended until further notice.

This includes group walks, social activities and other meetings. Please visit the Walking for Health website or the One You Kent website for more information.

One You Kent smokefree

Medium impact

For new referrals please call our support line on 0300 123 1220.

We still welcome new referrals, however due to increasing demand you may be added to our waiting list.

One You Kent weight loss

High impact

All weight loss groups have been stopped temporarily. Support will be offered by telephone for those on existing groups.

Postural stability

High impact

Classes have temporarily stopped and no referrals are being taken for the time being.

If you’re using the service, your provider will be in touch to check on you.

Residential recovery housing

Medium impact

The service is now taking new referrals. They are assessing people on the waiting list and are able to move people into the properties when vacancies are available and assessments have been completed.

School Public Health Service

Medium impact

The School Public Health Service is operating on a reduced basis.

All referrals to services including the Emotional Health Service should be made through the Single Point of Access (SPA). Referrals will be triaged daily and referred to an appropriate service. The service will deliver sessions through digital platforms such as; phone, WhatsApp or Facetime.

Please contact the service via the Single Point of Access by:

Other School Public Health Services:

  • Bereavement support is available for children and young people aged 4 to 19 who have been bereaved as a result of COVID-19. Referrals should also be made through the Single Point of Access (SPA).
  • Vision and hearing assessments for reception year pupils are not being carried out.
  • Chathealth confidential texting service for young people aged 11 to 19 is running as normal.
  • Young people can text the School Health Team about any concerns or health issues on 07520 618850. The number is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Parents, young people and schools can also access a range of helpful information and resources via the Kent Youth website, or for more information visit Kent Community Health NHS website.

Sexual health clinics

Medium impact

Sexual health clinics will operate on an appointment only basis and will no longer offer walk in clinics. Patients will be triaged by phone and appointments organised based on those presenting the highest risk. Sexual health clinics in West Kent are currently only able to deal with urgent appointments and patients are asked to phone the West Kent numbers below for clinical triage. Those that are invited to a face to face appointment will be required to wear a mask or face covering for the duration of their visit to the sexual health clinic.

You can access home testing for sexually transmitted infections to avoid attending a clinic. HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations are not urgent and can be postponed.

If you are HIV positive and worried about your risk of coronavirus, there is currently no evidence that people living with HIV are at any greater risk of either getting coronavirus, or becoming unwell due to coronavirus, than the general public. We do not recommend that you should attend for additional blood tests to check your CD4 count.

For more updates visit the British HIV association, however, we do recommend that you follow current NHS guidance about how best to protect yourselves and others from coronavirus. If your appointment is coming up soon then we may contact you beforehand to offer you a telephone or Skype consultation instead of coming into a clinic.

If you would like to discuss your attendance with a member of the team, please call:

Emergency oral contraception

Low impact

Emergency oral contraception is still widely available via pharmacies in Kent.

If you require this service, you will need to call your pharmacy for a virtual consultation first which, after completing, will enable you to collect your treatment

Substance misuse service

Medium impact

CGL and Forward Trust will continue to take referrals but will screen the most urgent cases. Due to this response times and waiting list times will be longer than usual.

Advice and support to patients will be provided but capacity will be limited due to staff having to self-isolate. Please refer only the most urgent cases. Contingency is being sought for opioid substitution therapy for prescriptions .

Group sessions for psychosocial support will be suspended.

The needle exchange programme will continue to operate.

For more information, visit your provider’s website or call them directly.

Targeted relationships

Medium impact

The service is currently continuing to accept online referrals via the Barnados website, however we will no longer be offering face-to-face sessions. Project workers will aim to deliver sessions through digital means, for example by phone, Skype or Facetime.

For those vulnerable young people still attending school, schools will be asked to provide a quiet environment in order for the session to take place by phone. Project workers will also offer all young people a wellbeing check via phone call between sessions.

The service will continue to accept referrals for the foreseeable future via the usual routes.

Young person substance misuse service

Medium impact

We Are With You will continue to take referrals but will screen for the most urgent cases.

They will offer phone, skype or other digital communication during this time.

As education and community settings start to re-open due to the lift of coronavirus restrictions, we will begin to transition back to face to face delivery.

Please do not make postal new referrals, please alternatively either:

Byadmin

Highways

In consideration of the latest guidance from the government it has been necessary to change our normal approach to dealing with customer enquiries in relation to the highway. First and foremost is the safety, health and wellbeing of our front line staff and the very important service they provide in keeping the highway safe.

Our highways teams are undertaking only those highest priority works to remove potential hazards and keep the highway safe for users. You may well see them out in KCC Highways vehicles and they have authority to continue working as they are providing a critical service.

If you need to raise a highway enquiry please do so in the normal way by reporting it online or by phone calling 03000 41 81 81 (emergencies only). Please do not approach highways staff whilst they are going about their work as we need to follow government guidelines on social distancing.

We are continuing to provide a highway maintenance service and you will see existing and planned roadworks continuing. Our contractors are constantly reviewing government advice on construction work so this may change.

Many utility companies are also continuing with their work to ensure services are provided to customers.

Please accept our apologies for the delays in routine highway enquiries but these are exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in.

Traffic surveys

We will not be accepting any traffic survey data obtained from our network from 16 March 2020, until further notice. Transport consultants and developers will need to discuss individual applications with us to determine if any other solutions may be available. Speed surveys will be considered on a case by case basis.

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Libraries and Archives

Archives

High impact

Following the recent government announcement which placed Kent into Tier 4, we will continue to operate as we have during lockdown. This means that we will not reopen the Archive Search Room but our enquiry service will continue as normal.

Find out more about our Kent Archives service.

Home Library Service

Low impact

The Home Library Service is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are an existing home library service member, we will be contacting you directly to offer our voluntary befriending service. This would involve the opportunity of a call on a weekly or two weekly basis to chat to a member of our friendly volunteering team and staff.

Find out more about other befriending services if you are feeling lonely during this time.

Libraries

Medium impact

Many of our libraries are offering a Select and Collect book borrowing service.

Find out more about our libraries and the services available during COVID-19.

Remember that our digital collections are always available. These include reference resources as well as free e-books, e-audio books, a vast range of the latest e-magazines and daily e-newspapers. These can be accessed via our libraries pages.

The Ask a Kent Librarian Service will remain available on 03000 41 64 38, email akl@kent.gov.uk or via 24/7 chat online.

You can now create a free temporary 3-month membership online, without leaving your home. This enables you to download free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and eNewspapers.

Byadmin

Public rights of way (PROW)

Fixing problems on a public right of way

Due to the coronavirus outbreak our officers are only visiting the countryside where social distancing can be implemented and its considered safe to do so.

Contracts to clear natural surface vegetation are underway as normal but will be delayed due to additional safety measures. Other programmes of maintenance work are also subject to delay or have been halted and our volunteer wardens have ceased activity.

However please do continue to report any problems and these will be prioritised. We are continuing to organise programmes of work and progress our legal work as far as we can.

Byway permits

We can now process byway permits. For more information please visit our byway page.

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Transport

Changes to bus services

Some bus journeys and services will change to become school-only services. These changes, which bus companies have made following a request from government, have been made to make sure that there is enough space for all children needing to travel. This means that these journeys are unavailable for other adult passengers. Details of the re-designated journeys are available on our return to school page and passengers are advised to check with their operator before travelling.

Bus passes for older or disabled people

Medium impact

From Monday 18 January, holders of an older or disabled person’s bus pass will be able to use it for free travel before 9:30am. This is to help passholders access vaccination slots and any dedicated shopping times.

KCC Travel Saver and 16+ Travel Saver

Low impact

Applications are now open for the KCC Travel Saver and 16+ Travel Saver. Please read the information on the page about COVID-19 to help you decide if getting a Travel Saver will save you money this year.

Requests for replacement passes can still be made over the phone and online and we are trying to arrange for these to be sent to your home address directly.

Gravesend to Tilbury Ferry

Medium impact

Due to social distancing a maximum capacity of 20 persons have been enforced for passenger safety.

Passengers wishing to avoid crowded spaces are requested to use alternative sailings.

There will be two exceptions (in the interest of children travelling to and from school), the 7:25am and 4pm sailings will operate at the normal capacity of 50.School children wishing to travel outside these times will still be permitted however will be subject to the restricted capacity/social distancing measures.

Government advice is changing daily, please check one of the following for more updated information:

Kent Karrier

Medium impact

The Kent Karrier continues to be available to members who need it most. The service should only be used as a means to access essential services and shopping and if members are able to get their shopping and access essential services in any other way, they should do so.

We will allow each Kent Karrier member who needs to, to nominate a friend, neighbour or relative to use the Kent Karrier to collect members’ shopping.

The member or their nominee will need to pay for the journey as usual, and the nominee will need to be picked up from and dropped back at the member’s address with their shopping and/ or medicines.

The booking will still need to be made by the Kent Karrier member and when the booking is made, the operator should be told that the member is making use of the nomination system and who the nominee is. The nominee will need to quote the Kent Karrier membership number, so members need to make their nominees aware of their Kent Karrier membership number.

Kent Karrier membership is being extended for a whole calendar year. All members whose membership ran out from January 2020 onwards, will continue to be a member of the Kent Karrier and have the right to use the service until further notice. Members do not need to contact us or do anything else even if their membership is expiring, they can carry on using the service as usual if they are unable to nominate someone to do so on their behalf. We will write to members when we re-introduce their membership charge.

Community transport

Low impact

Due to COVID-19 some community transport services may be affected. Contact the transport provider directly for the most up to date information.

Find out more about community transport schemes in Kent.

Buses to hospitals

Low impact

To help key workers get to and from Kent hospitals, we have arranged for some of our funded bus services to continue on Sundays.

The following services will all operate over the long weekend to maintain links for the areas concerned:

  • 36 (Herne Bay to QEQM Hospital)
  • 58 (West Malling to Maidstone Hospital)
  • 297 (Tenterden to Tunbridge Wells)
  • 666 (Faversham to Ashford)

Passengers are encouraged to check with their operator for particular timetable details.

Byadmin

Waste and Recycling

Household waste recycling centres (HWRC)

Medium impact

Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are open for socially distanced use, you will need to book a slot before visiting.

We, together with the district and borough authorities, urge residents to protect themselves from illegal waste carriers who often target householders with cheap rates to take their rubbish away.

If you want to dispose of waste, consider using a reputable skip hire company or HIPPO bag supplier who can also supply you with a waste transfer note to evidence where your waste will be disposed of.

Household waste rubbish collection

Low impact

Contact your district council to find out when they will collect your rubbish and recycling.

Byadmin

Country Parks

Low impact

In response to the latest government lockdown guidelines, our country parks remain open for local residents to exercise. The car parks, toilets and play areas are open and pay and display charges remain in place.

The visitor centres and some cafés are closed (check individual café pages for details).

When visiting the parks please respect social distancing and follow the guidelines of hands, face, space.

Birthday party bookings

High impact

We will not be taking any new bookings for venue hire or birthday parties for the foreseeable future.

Events

High impact

Our events are suspended for the time being but will be reviewed against any changes in government guidance.

Venue hire bookings

High impact

Our venue hire is suspended for the time being but will be reviewed against any changes in government guidance.

Byadmin

Golding Homes Update

Be aware of scammers
I wanted to make you aware of some scammers targeting our residents, these people are using my name on fake letters to get money from people so please be alert and stay safe. Don’t get scammed
We have been made aware of residents receiving letters claiming to be from Golding Homes saying that we will be collecting rent payment in cash. This is a scam, please don’t get caught out. We will never ask you to hand over money or bank details on your doorstep. All our staff will always carry photo identification and will be happy to wait outside while it is verified. If you are unsure please do not allow access to your home and call 0300 777 2600 to check with us first. Unfortunately there are a large number of scammers trying to take advantage of people during this difficult time. Please make sure you are aware of them and know how to protect yourself, by taking a look at the information from Friends against Scams provided to us by the National Trading Standards. If you think you have been targeted by scammers please contact Kent Police. Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time and please be careful and stay safe. Many thanks,

Annemarie Roberts
Director of Operations
Golding Homes
Delivering essential services to you
Last week we took the decision to move to delivering essential services only, in order to keep our customers and colleagues safe and minimise the spread of Covid-19 virus. You can find out exactly what this means on our website. If you have a repair that falls outside of those listed which you feel is a priority please contact us, these requests will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Stay Safe
Following the Government’s guidance to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives, it is important to be aware of any potential fire risks that could occur as a result of the whole family being at home for a prolonged period of time. Please make sure you do not overload plug sockets which can cause fires or block communal areas or walkways with personal possessions or rubbish which could stop you escaping in the event of a fire. You can read some helpful tips or watch a short video about fire safety in the home on our website.
Are you looking for work?
If you or someone you know are looking for work or need some employment advice, then our Workwise team are on hand to help. While we are currently unable to offer face-to-face meetings but we can discuss your needs over the phone or by email. To find out more visit our website.
Reporting things online
We have updated our online form to allow you to send us documents or images related to your request. So for example if you need to request a non-urgent repair, you can attach a picture of it. This form can be completed at your own convenience via our website.
Byadmin

KCC Services

Training centres

Medium impact

We have reopened some of our adult education training centres. For more information please visit the Kent Adult Education website.

Adult education courses

Medium impact

During this time, some of our courses can be run virtually, learners on courses such as languages, maths, fitness, creative writing and much more will be contacted directly with information about how this can happen. Alternatively, for those who are unable to complete their programme because of the closures, we will offer an appropriate alternative.

We are committed to ensure that as many learners as possible can complete their qualifications. In the case of GCSEs, we will be guided by national advice. For other qualifications such as functional skills in English and maths, we are currently exploring ways in which learners will be able to sit their exam in an appropriate setting. We will be providing details of how this can happen in the near future.

If you would rather take part from home, we have an extensive range of online live, interactive classes taught by our experienced tutors. View our online courses.

Social care

For answers to common questions about how coronavirus is affecting social care, check the social care section of our your questions answered page.

Birth registrations

High impact

Birth registrations are currently suspended and appointments cannot be booked. Please keep checking the website for further updates on when the service will resume.

When available we will open as many appointments as safely as possible in chosen locations. However, not all locations that were previously open are currently available for birth registrations.

For more information please visit our register a birth page.

If you need any further information about registering a birth, call us on 03000 41 51 51.

Death registrations

Medium impact

Due to the current situation with coronavirus, it is not possible to book an appointment to register a death in person. Instead, death registrations will be carried out by telephone.

Find out more about our new temporary registration process.

Ceremonies

Medium impact

Ceremonies are not currently permitted in line with the current government restrictions for Tier 4.

For more information visit the Kentish Ceremonies website.

Citizenship ceremonies

Medium impact

Citizenship Ceremonies are still being completed in very small groups.

You would normally expect to book your ceremony within 3 months of being sent an official invitation from the Home Office.

Due to COVID-19 this has been delayed till 6 months.

If you are successful in your application, the Home Office will send you a confirmation letter. The letter states that you must wait until you receive a formal invitation before book your ceremony.

If you have not yet received the official ceremony invitation please wait and do not contact us. Once we have received the notification from the Home Office, we will be able to book your ceremony.

Certificate Centre enquiries

Medium impact

Our Certificate Centre is running a limited service and certificates will be issued as soon as we are able.

The centre is closed for face to face appointments.

Face to face assessments

High impact

We are currently unable to offer any Blue Badge face to face assessments.

Our assessment team will be in contact with any applicant that already has an appointment booked, and we are taking every measure to continue to assess applicants using alternative assessment methods where possible.

If we need to hold your application because of this temporary freeze on appointments, we will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please do not contact us regarding these appointments unless you receive an email from us asking you to contact us directly.

Application processing

Medium impact

Application processing may take longer than usual during this period, but the assessment team are continuing to progress applications as normal.

Adding additional documentation:

If any applicant would like to submit further information or evidence from a professional to support their application, you can upload this using our self-service portal or email this to imaadmin@kent.gov.uk. This evidence should give information about how applicants are impacted when mobilising outside of the home environment, and details of any conditions which impact the applicant when mobilising.

Postal applications:

We also may struggle to process post at this time, which will delay applications either being made or already in progress using this postal route. To ensure that your application is not delayed, please use the self-service portal to upload any documents to support your application.

New applications:

If you need to make a new application, please use the online application form. We will try our hardest to process all paper applications, but any application or information received by us after this date using Royal Mail may be delayed.

Adoption

Low impact

Find out more about adoption in Kent and their up and coming information events by visiting the Kent Adoption website.

Fostering

Low impact

Find out more about adoption in Kent and their up and coming information events by visiting the Kent Fostering website.

Country Parks

Low impact

In response to the latest government lockdown guidelines, our country parks remain open for local residents to exercise. The car parks, toilets and play areas are open and pay and display charges remain in place.

The visitor centres and some cafés are closed (check individual café pages for details).

When visiting the parks please respect social distancing and follow the guidelines of hands, face, space.

Birthday party bookings

High impact

We will not be taking any new bookings for venue hire or birthday parties for the foreseeable future.

Events

High impact

Our events are suspended for the time being but will be reviewed against any changes in government guidance.

Venue hire bookings

High impact

Our venue hire is suspended for the time being but will be reviewed against any changes in government guidance.

Courses

Medium impact

Due to social distancing regulations that are currently in force, we will continue to provide online courses for the following courses:

  • National Speed Awareness Course
  • National Motorway Awareness Course
  • What’s Driving Us Course
  • Safe and Considerate Driving Course

Please book your course online.

The Rider Intervention Development Experience Course (RIDE) is currently not being offered. For further information please email KDE@kent.gov.uk or visit the NDORS website.

Schools

High impact

Primary and secondary schools are now closed for the majority of pupils and will offer remote learning until the February half term. Schools will remain open for face-to-face learning for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All pupils who attend alternative provision schools are expected to attend from the week commencing 4 January.

Find out more about the current school arrangements and how you can support your child’s education from home.

If you have any queries or would like further support regarding school places during this time, please email emergencyschoolplaces@kent.gov.uk.

Free school meals

High impact

We are working with schools to ensure the families of pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals will receive support to help them feed their children if they are not in school during the lockdown period. Please contact your child’s school if you are unsure what arrangements are being put in place for your child.

Nursery places for children of key workers

Low impact

Early years and childcare settings and schools are currently open. However there there may be occasions when this is temporarily prohibited for a particular school or setting for reasons related to COVID-19. If you cannot find a childcare place for your child, please contact us:

For nursery and childcare settings:
Email kentcfis@theeducationpeople.org
Call 03000 41 23 23

Alternatively you can read:

Special educational needs and disability (SEND), Kent’s local offer

Medium impact

For more information and for details of the temporary new law about education health and care plans and assessments, read our guidance for families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment requests

Medium impact

We want to ensure that, as far as is possible, our services to children, young people and their families are maintained. However, postal services and our internal processing of mail is severely impacted. Our SEN officers are able to work remotely so we hope to continue with our work without too much disruption

If you would like to request an assessment of your child’s education, health and care needs, please could you could send a short email to let us know that you wish to make a request and provide your contact details. We will then get back to you with information about next steps and to arrange how you can share any information about your child with us.

If you’re unable to contact us by email, we would be happy to receive a request over the phone during this period.

For our contact details please visit the SEND team page.

Chaperone licence DBS checks

High impact

Unfortunately, the service for the ID checks for a DBS is now on hold until further notice due to current government advice. This will be reviewed regularly.

You are still able to continue with your chaperone application but there will be a delay in your licence being issued due to the DBS checks being on hold. If you chose to continue with the application, we will be able to inform you once this service has been resumed.

Children in entertainment licences

High impact

Due to the government’s new rules on staying at home and away from others, we have suspended the issuing of performance licences, Body of Persons Approvals and work permits until further notice. This will be regularly reviewed, and arrangements adjusted accordingly as and when the guidance changes.

If you need to contact us for any queries regarding this, please call 03000 420883 or email childemploymentandentertainment@kent.gov.uk.

Children Centres

Medium impact

We have now opened 12 children’s centres:

  • Bluebells Children’s Centre
  • Buckland Children’s Centre
  • Folkestone Early Years Children’s Centre
  • Greenfields Children’s Centre
  • Little Forest Children’s Centre
  • Little hands Children’s Centre
  • Murston Children’s Centre
  • Oakfield Children’s Centre
  • Riverside Children’s Centre
  • Sixbells Children’s Centre
  • Swanley Children’s Centre (partial reopen with Swanley Youth Hub)
  • Woodlands Children’s Centre.

For their opening times please visit our children’s centre page.

Ashford Gateway

High impact

Ashford Gateway is closed.

Find out more about our library services.

Find out more about births, ceremonies and deaths.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Ashford Borough Council website.

Dover Gateway

High impact

Dover Gateway is closed.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Dover District Council website.

Eden Centre

High impact

Eden Centre is closed.

Find out more about our library services.

Find out more about births, ceremonies and deaths.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Sevenoaks District Council website.

Gravesham Gateway

Medium impact

The Gateway is open for essential pre-booked appointments only.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Gravesham Borough Council website.

If the service you require cannot be accessed online please contact Gravesham Borough Council to discuss on 01474 337000.

Sheppey Gateway

High impact

Sheppey Gateway is closed.

Find out more about our library services.

Find out more about births, ceremonies and deaths.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Swale Borough Council website.

Swanley Link

Medium impact

The building is open with the following services operating:

Post Office: Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.

Find out more about our library services.

Find out more about births, ceremonies and deaths.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Sevenoaks District Council website.

Tenterden Gateway

Medium impact

The building is open with the following services operating:

Post Office opening hours:

  • Monday: 9am to 5:30pm
  • Tuesday: 9am to 5:30pm
  • Wednesday: 9am to 5:30pm
  • Thursday: 9am to 5:30pm
  • Friday: 9am to 5:30pm
  • Saturday: 9am to 2pm
  • Sunday: closed

Find out more about our library services.

Find out more about births, ceremonies and deaths.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Ashford Borough Council website.

Thanet Gateway

Medium impact

The Gateway is open for essential pre-booked appointments only.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Thanet District Council website.

If the service you require cannot be access online please contact Thanet District Council to discuss on 01843 577000.

Tonbridge Gateway

Medium impact

The Gateway is open for essential pre-booked appointments only.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council website.

If the service you require cannot be access online please contact Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to discuss on 01474 337000.

Tunbridge Wells Gateway

Low impact

Tunbridge Wells Gateway is open.

Please only visit if it’s an emergency and follow government guidelines.

For benefits, housing and other borough services, visit the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website.

Health visiting service

Medium impact

The health visiting service is operating on a reduced basis.

If you are pregnant, we will be in contact with you.

If you have a new baby (between 10 and 14 days old) we will offer you a face to face appointment at home.

We’ll also arrange virtual sessions (by Skype or WhatsApp) when your baby is:

  • 6 to 8 weeks old
  • 9 to 12 months old
  • and 2 to 2 and a half years old.

We may be able to offer face to face sessions in some circumstances.

Two to three healthy child clinics are run in each district every week. Appointments are available, following triage, on a bookable basis through your local duty line.

We have also launched Solihull online parenting courses. These free online courses are for anyone pregnant or caring for a child in Kent up to the age of 19

Visit our health visiting service page for contact details of our local teams and duty line numbers.

Immunisations

Medium impact

The Kent and Medway Immunisation Service has restarted the 0 to 19 vaccination programme. Any child or young person that missed a vaccination this year during the school closures, will either be offered an appointment at a catch up clinic or be seen in the new academic year at their school.

HPV 1 and 2: summer catch up clinics are being held for anyone that missed their HPV vaccinations due to school closures and lockdown. All other missed HPV vaccinations will be given in the new academic year when the team visits schools.

Td/IPV MenACWY: children who missed their vaccination in 2020 (year 9) will be offered this during school year 10 in Spring 2021. Next year’s school year 9 will be invited as usual.

Flu: the nasal flu vaccination programme will be offered to all children at primary school between October and December 2020. This vaccination will also be offered to children in year 7 this year. Parents will receive details of how to consent via an online portal nearer the time.

Other vaccinations: if you believe that your child has missed any other vaccination please contact our team and we will be able to advise you.

The immunisation team has put together some frequently asked questions here for anyone concerned at the current time. For more information please visit the Kent Community Health NHS website.

To contact the team email kchft.cyp-immunisationteam@nhs.net or call 0300 123 5205.

Infant feeding services

High impact

Breastfeeding drop in groups have been stopped.

Those requiring breastfeeding support are encouraged to:

For those mothers or babies with complex feeding needs, the specialist service will continue to operate and referrals should be made via the Kent Community Health NHS website.

Live Well Kent

Low impact

Live Well Kent services in all areas are continuing to provide support while adapting the way they work to follow the latest official advice and guidance across Kent.

If you are currently being supported by a Live Well Kent service, they will be in touch with more information about how they can continue to support you. If you have any questions or need to speak to someone, please contact the particular service that is supporting you.

The service are still accepting referrals, so if you need support or need to refer someone you can call their referral line 0800 567 7699, email info@livewellkent.org.uk or contact services directly.

For up to date information and advice about the coronavirus, please visit our Live Well Kent coronavirus webpage.

For support about managing your mental health during this difficult time please visit one of the following websites:

If you require further support please call 0800 567 7699.

NHS Health Checks

High impact

The NHS Health Checks service has been suspended until further notice.

No new appointments will be made and all patients with existing appointments will have received a notification of appointment cancellation.

One You Kent Ashford shop

High impact

Unfortunately the One You Kent shop in Ashford is now closed to the public and all groups and events have been postponed.

One You Kent healthy lifestyle service

Medium impact

We are offering advice by telephone and video calls as well as virtual groups (this service may vary depending on where you live).

Due to an increase in demand you may have to wait a while before getting an appointment with a smokefree adviser.

You may be directed to other types of support while you are waiting including mobile apps and websites.

Complete our referral form and a friendly advisor will call you to talk through the options in your area.

For more information about how we can help you please visit our One You Kent website.

One You Kent health walks

High impact

All health walks have been suspended until further notice.

This includes group walks, social activities and other meetings. Please visit the Walking for Health website or the One You Kent website for more information.

One You Kent smokefree

Medium impact

For new referrals please call our support line on 0300 123 1220.

We still welcome new referrals, however due to increasing demand you may be added to our waiting list.

One You Kent weight loss

High impact

All weight loss groups have been stopped temporarily. Support will be offered by telephone for those on existing groups.

Postural stability

High impact

Classes have temporarily stopped and no referrals are being taken for the time being.

If you’re using the service, your provider will be in touch to check on you.

Residential recovery housing

Medium impact

The service is now taking new referrals. They are assessing people on the waiting list and are able to move people into the properties when vacancies are available and assessments have been completed.

School Public Health Service

Medium impact

The School Public Health Service is operating on a reduced basis.

All referrals to services including the Emotional Health Service should be made through the Single Point of Access (SPA). Referrals will be triaged daily and referred to an appropriate service. The service will deliver sessions through digital platforms such as; phone, WhatsApp or Facetime.

Please contact the service via the Single Point of Access by:

Other School Public Health Services:

  • Bereavement support is available for children and young people aged 4 to 19 who have been bereaved as a result of COVID-19. Referrals should also be made through the Single Point of Access (SPA).
  • Vision and hearing assessments for reception year pupils are not being carried out.
  • Chathealth confidential texting service for young people aged 11 to 19 is running as normal.
  • Young people can text the School Health Team about any concerns or health issues on 07520 618850. The number is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Parents, young people and schools can also access a range of helpful information and resources via the Kent Youth website, or for more information visit Kent Community Health NHS website.

Sexual health clinics

Medium impact

Sexual health clinics will operate on an appointment only basis and will no longer offer walk in clinics. Patients will be triaged by phone and appointments organised based on those presenting the highest risk. Sexual health clinics in West Kent are currently only able to deal with urgent appointments and patients are asked to phone the West Kent numbers below for clinical triage. Those that are invited to a face to face appointment will be required to wear a mask or face covering for the duration of their visit to the sexual health clinic.

You can access home testing for sexually transmitted infections to avoid attending a clinic. HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations are not urgent and can be postponed.

If you are HIV positive and worried about your risk of coronavirus, there is currently no evidence that people living with HIV are at any greater risk of either getting coronavirus, or becoming unwell due to coronavirus, than the general public. We do not recommend that you should attend for additional blood tests to check your CD4 count.

For more updates visit the British HIV association, however, we do recommend that you follow current NHS guidance about how best to protect yourselves and others from coronavirus. If your appointment is coming up soon then we may contact you beforehand to offer you a telephone or Skype consultation instead of coming into a clinic.

If you would like to discuss your attendance with a member of the team, please call:

Emergency oral contraception

Low impact

Emergency oral contraception is still widely available via pharmacies in Kent.

If you require this service, you will need to call your pharmacy for a virtual consultation first which, after completing, will enable you to collect your treatment

Substance misuse service

Medium impact

CGL and Forward Trust will continue to take referrals but will screen the most urgent cases. Due to this response times and waiting list times will be longer than usual.

Advice and support to patients will be provided but capacity will be limited due to staff having to self-isolate. Please refer only the most urgent cases. Contingency is being sought for opioid substitution therapy for prescriptions .

Group sessions for psychosocial support will be suspended.

The needle exchange programme will continue to operate.

For more information, visit your provider’s website or call them directly.

Targeted relationships

Medium impact

The service is currently continuing to accept online referrals via the Barnados website, however we will no longer be offering face-to-face sessions. Project workers will aim to deliver sessions through digital means, for example by phone, Skype or Facetime.

For those vulnerable young people still attending school, schools will be asked to provide a quiet environment in order for the session to take place by phone. Project workers will also offer all young people a wellbeing check via phone call between sessions.

The service will continue to accept referrals for the foreseeable future via the usual routes.

Young person substance misuse service

Medium impact

We Are With You will continue to take referrals but will screen for the most urgent cases.

They will offer phone, skype or other digital communication during this time.

As education and community settings start to re-open due to the lift of coronavirus restrictions, we will begin to transition back to face to face delivery.

Please do not make postal new referrals, please alternatively either:

Fixing problems on the road or pavement

Medium impact

In consideration of the latest guidance from the government it has been necessary to change our normal approach to dealing with customer enquiries in relation to the highway. First and foremost is the safety, health and wellbeing of our front line staff and the very important service they provide in keeping the highway safe.

We are prioritising works to remove potential hazards and keep the highway safe for users. You may well see them out in KCC Highways vehicles and they have authority to continue working as they are providing a critical service.

If you need to raise a highway enquiry please do so in the normal way by reporting it online or by calling 03000 41 81 81 (emergencies only). Please do not approach highways staff whilst they are going about their work as we need to follow government guidelines on social distancing.

We are continuing to provide a highway maintenance service and you will see existing and planned roadworks continuing. Our contractors are constantly reviewing government advice on construction work so this may change.

Many utility companies are also continuing with their work to ensure services are provided to customers.

Please accept our apologies for the delays in routine highway enquiries but these are exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in.

Traffic surveys

High impact

We will not be accepting any traffic survey data obtained from our network from 16 March 2020, until further notice. Transport consultants and developers will need to discuss individual applications with us to determine if any other solutions may be available. Speed surveys will be considered on a case by case basis.

Archives

High impact

Following the recent government announcement which placed Kent into Tier 4, we will continue to operate as we have during lockdown. This means that we will not reopen the Archive Search Room but our enquiry service will continue as normal.

Find out more about our Kent Archives service.

Home Library Service

Low impact

The Home Library Service is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are an existing home library service member, we will be contacting you directly to offer our voluntary befriending service. This would involve the opportunity of a call on a weekly or two weekly basis to chat to a member of our friendly volunteering team and staff.

Find out more about other befriending services if you are feeling lonely during this time.

Libraries

Medium impact

Many of our libraries are offering a Select and Collect book borrowing service.

Find out more about our libraries and the services available during COVID-19.

Remember that our digital collections are always available. These include reference resources as well as free e-books, e-audio books, a vast range of the latest e-magazines and daily e-newspapers. These can be accessed via our libraries pages.

The Ask a Kent Librarian Service will remain available on 03000 41 64 38, email akl@kent.gov.uk or via 24/7 chat online.

You can now create a free temporary 3-month membership online, without leaving your home. This enables you to download free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and eNewspapers.

Planning applications

High impact

We have suspended notifying neighbours of planning applications submitted to the County Planning Application for a decision.

For as long as we are able to, we will continue to advertise applications using a site notice in the vicinity of the application site and, where necessary, a public notice in local newspapers.

View details of planning applications.

Fixing problems on a public right of way

Medium impact

Due to the coronavirus outbreak our officers are only visiting the countryside where social distancing can be implemented and its considered safe to do so.

Contracts to clear natural surface vegetation are underway as normal but will be delayed due to additional safety measures. Other programmes of maintenance work are also subject to delay or have been halted and our volunteer wardens have ceased activity.

However please do continue to report any problems and these will be prioritised. We are continuing to organise programmes of work and progress our legal work as far as we can.

Byway permits

Medium impact

We can now process byway permits. For more information please visit our byway page.

Free school transport

We will continue to provide free school transport for children who remain in school during the national lockdown. If your child is currently eligible to attend school, but they are unable to go due to lack of transport, please contact homeschooltransport@kent.gov.uk to discuss whether alternative arrangements can be made.

Transport for children with SEND

If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and is entitled to transport this will continue. However, if your child has an EHCP and usually receives transport but is not going to attend school you should liaise directly with, and inform, the transport operator as you normally would.

Transport for secondary schools

If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and is entitled to transport this will continue. Parents are asked to inform both their child’s school and their transport provider if their need for school transport changes.

If you normally receive transport and are concerned that this may not be running then email clienttransport@kent.gov.uk.

Transport for primary schools

Most of the transport to primary schools has been suspended, except where we have identified that children are still going to school..

If your child needs to attend school but that their usual service is not operating, please email public.transport@kent.gov.uk and we will seek to make the necessary arrangements.

Changes to bus services

Some bus journeys and services will change to become school-only services. These changes, which bus companies have made following a request from government, have been made to make sure that there is enough space for all children needing to travel. This means that these journeys are unavailable for other adult passengers. Details of the re-designated journeys are available on our return to school page and passengers are advised to check with their operator before travelling.

Bus passes for older or disabled people

Medium impact

From Monday 18 January, holders of an older or disabled person’s bus pass will be able to use it for free travel before 9:30am. This is to help passholders access vaccination slots and any dedicated shopping times.

KCC Travel Saver and 16+ Travel Saver

Low impact

Direct Debit payments for the Kent Travel Saver and the 16+ Travel Saver will be cancelled in January and February due to the national lockdown.Vulnerable children and those of critical workers will still be able to use their pass to travel to school. A refund for those that have paid upfront will be made once a decision is made by the government on when all children may return to school.

Gravesend to Tilbury Ferry

Medium impact

Due to social distancing a maximum capacity of 20 persons have been enforced for passenger safety.

Passengers wishing to avoid crowded spaces are requested to use alternative sailings.

There will be two exceptions (in the interest of children travelling to and from school), the 7:25am and 4pm sailings will operate at the normal capacity of 50.School children wishing to travel outside these times will still be permitted however will be subject to the restricted capacity/social distancing measures.

Government advice is changing daily, please check one of the following for more updated information:

Kent Karrier

Medium impact

The Kent Karrier continues to be available to members who need it most. The service should only be used as a means to access essential services and shopping and if members are able to get their shopping and access essential services in any other way, they should do so.

We will allow each Kent Karrier member who needs to, to nominate a friend, neighbour or relative to use the Kent Karrier to collect members’ shopping.

The member or their nominee will need to pay for the journey as usual, and the nominee will need to be picked up from and dropped back at the member’s address with their shopping and/ or medicines.

The booking will still need to be made by the Kent Karrier member and when the booking is made, the operator should be told that the member is making use of the nomination system and who the nominee is. The nominee will need to quote the Kent Karrier membership number, so members need to make their nominees aware of their Kent Karrier membership number.

Kent Karrier membership is being extended for a whole calendar year. All members whose membership ran out from January 2020 onwards, will continue to be a member of the Kent Karrier and have the right to use the service until further notice. Members do not need to contact us or do anything else even if their membership is expiring, they can carry on using the service as usual if they are unable to nominate someone to do so on their behalf. We will write to members when we re-introduce their membership charge.

Community transport

Low impact

Due to COVID-19 some community transport services may be affected. Contact the transport provider directly for the most up to date information.

Find out more about community transport schemes in Kent.

Buses to hospitals

Low impact

To help key workers get to and from Kent hospitals, we have arranged for some of our funded bus services to continue on Sundays.

The following services will all operate over the long weekend to maintain links for the areas concerned:

  • 36 (Herne Bay to QEQM Hospital)
  • 58 (West Malling to Maidstone Hospital)
  • 297 (Tenterden to Tunbridge Wells)
  • 666 (Faversham to Ashford)

Passengers are encouraged to check with their operator for particular timetable details.

Household waste recycling centres (HWRC)

Medium impact

Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are open for socially distanced use, you will need to book a slot before visiting.

We, together with the district and borough authorities, urge residents to protect themselves from illegal waste carriers who often target householders with cheap rates to take their rubbish away.

If you want to dispose of waste, consider using a reputable skip hire company or HIPPO bag supplier who can also supply you with a waste transfer note to evidence where your waste will be disposed of.

Household waste rubbish collection

Low impact

Contact your district council to find out when they will collect your rubbish and recycling.

Byadmin

Kent Together

KENT TOGETHER – HELPLINE LAUNCHED BY KENT COUNTY COUNCIL 

A 24 hour helpline has been set up to support vulnerable people in Kent who need urgent help, supplies or medication. 

The helpline – called Kent Together – provides a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in the county who is in urgent need of help during the Coronavirus outbreak. It is a collaboration between KCC, central Government, District, Borough and local councils, the voluntary and community sector, the NHS, emergency services and other partners to ensure help is at hand for vulnerable people. 

It is also the place to report your concerns about the welfare of someone else.  

Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “In every district and borough throughout Kent and Medway there has been an incredible and heartening response to this pandemic, and we have a huge army of remarkable, public-spirited volunteers who are ready and willing to help each other through these challenging times. 

“We now need to make sure that these vital resources are directed to where they are most needed. The new central helpline will link to Community Hubs across the county and ensure that we are effectively working hand in hand with the amazing teams out in the heart of communities in every part of Kent.” 

Kent Together is being coordinated by Kent County Council which will feed the information through the network of volunteers, district and borough council teams and local support groups, to ensure people get the support they need, when they need it. 

People’s needs will be assessed and staff will liaise with Community Hubs in the districts to prioritise those who need urgent help. 

Mr Gough added: “At this unprecedented time, we all need to support each other to cope with the changes to our lifestyles we’ve had to make in order to delay the spread of Covid-19. 

“I appreciate those radical changes have brought about difficulties and uncertainty and that we are all having to live our lives very differently.  

“I hope with the launch of this service we can help bring some sense of familiarity and comfort back to those who desperately need it.” 

If you are vulnerable and have an urgent need that cannot be met through existing support networks, you can contact the Kent Together helpline at www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether  or by calling on 03000 41 92 92. It is a 24 hour service. 

Kent County Council also has a page on its website answering frequently-asked questions and the very latest Coronavirus information on its service updates page. 

Visit www.kent.gov.uk to find out more. 

Byadmin

Autism, ADHD and Learning disability advice

Autism advice

Autistic children and young people may struggle to identify any physical symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as having difficulty talking about the emotions the situation will create. Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour which may help you to identify their emotional state, as well as physical symptoms.

There is going to be disruption for all of us during the pandemic, for example it will not be possible to follow normal routines, or visit older family members. If your child or young person becomes ill, they may struggle to manage the physical experience. You can help to manage these changes using any strategies that you know work for your family, or see sources of further advice and support at the bottom of this section.

It is important to be honest when communicating with your child or young person about the changing situation, measures they can take to stay safe, and the symptoms of the virus. Try to avoid giving definitive statements about the future – this is a rapidly developing situation and your child or young person may be more distressed if things change when they were told they would not. Keep up to date with official information about coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should continue to access support of local autism groups online or via phone. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful – you can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 for further advice.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Please find attached A Handbook for families – Information on autism and ADHD in children. Until service resumes as normal after the coronavirus response, some of the services will be operating differently to the information in the booklet. After the response has concluded, we expect it to be correct.”

The national autistic society has a page specifically dealing with coronavirus which can be found here

Face coverings on public transport

You may have seen that the Government made face coverings mandatory on public transport from 15th June, and operators are able refuse travel or issue penalty fines for those who fail to wear a face covering. The requirements are set out in the regulations, which also include exemptions.

Arriva has published guidance on its website on social distancing on its buses, including exemptions for wearing face coverings. They have also produced assistance cards and face covering exemption cards which can be downloaded here.

Photosymbols have produced cards which can be downloaded and printed off or simply used on a phone and shown to bus drivers etc for those who don’t have access to a printer. Please see this link to these resources on the KeepSafe website.

Clear information

A plain English 4-pager from NDTI on the virus, rules on going out, & supporting an autistic person

A blogpost with 20 tips, including on how to not overwhelm autistic people with information.

Videos

A YouTube video by PurpleElla on tips with how to cope during the pandemic if you are Autistic.

Social stories to help convey information

A social story about coronavirus by Carol Gray

A social story about keeping healthy and fighting germs from National Autistic Society

Mental health advice on dealing with anxiety during the pandemic and keeping mentally well (useful for us all!)

Coping with uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic from Autistica (Autism-specific)

A few techniques for managing anxiety during this time from Anxiety UK (general advice)

There is a free Calm Pack now available for families. This pack is full of activities and exercises to help families come together to feel safe and calm during this difficult time.

Learning disability advice

Children and young people with learning disabilities can feel a loss of control in times of uncertainty such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They may need more support or adapted explanations about the outbreak. See the easy-read coronavirus (COVID-19) guide to looking after your feelings and your body for ideas.

A good way to help them could be by supporting their decisions, representing choices visually through written words, pictures, symbol systems or objects if helpful, supporting them to express their emotions and letting them know they are not alone. While listening, take their feelings seriously and don’t judge their emotions. They may feel anxious about big changes, such as the possibility of having to stay at home for a long period. Where possible, it can be helpful to explain any upcoming changes to routine and circumstances before they happen and help them to plan and come up with solutions, such as finding a hobby or doing exercises to relax and cope with anxiety.

For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care advice. For further guidance on coronavirus (COVID19) for those with learning disabilities please see the Mencap website (includes easy read materials). BILD (the Learning Disability Professional Senate) have also published a collection of resources that may be useful to support families or carers of people with learning disabilities during the coronavirus restrictions.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Upbility

A library of ready-to-use resources aimed at fulfilling all the special therapy and education needs of children and adolescents. It places particular emphasis on producing easy-to-use and visually appealing materials and content to meet the expectations of specialists, educators and parents. Click here for more inofrmation (note you will need to change curreny from USD to GBP)

Learning disability helpline

We support people with a learning disability and their families to make their lives better, please use the following link to access information: Learning Disability Helpline.

At the moment a lot of people are worried about coronavirus. We have been asked lots of questions about what coronavirus and the lockdown means for people with a learning disability, like:

  • Am I allowed out?
  • How often can I exercise?
  • How do I explain social distancing to my family member with a learning disability?
  • What do the Care Act easements mean for me?  

We have also been able to help some people with their concerns about the NICE guidelines and what would happen if they needed to go to hospital. There have been so many changes recently, but we have answers to many current questions.

You can also ask us questions about things that aren’t to do with coronavirus. We may be able to help you with questions about social care, money and benefits, the Mental Capacity Act (best interests, capacity decisions), health and assessments, and treatment units.

You can call the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111, we’re here from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Or you can fill in our online form or email us at helpline@mencap.org.uk.

Aspens Live Chat For Those Effected by Autism

Aspens Live chat is a free online service delivered by our team of specialist advisers.
We welcome adults and young people with autism spectrum condition, learning difficulties and complex needs. We welcome their families. We also welcome professionals and key workers who are supporting families and individuals living with any disability. For more information about Aspens and Live Chat, please visit www.aspens.org.uk

To ensure we can offer the best advice tailored to your needs we are offering a variety of sessions:
 
Adult Sessions:

  • Tuesday 6pm to 7.30pm
  • Thursday 10am-12pm

Family Support:

  • Monday 9.30am to 11.30am
  • Wednesday 9am-11am
  • Friday 12-2pm

Young People:

  • Monday 1pm-3pm
  • Wednesday 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm
  • Thursday 1pm to 2.30pm

Aspens Fest 2020

Aspens are organising a virtual weekend of activities and workshops on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July, themed around transition tailored to parents, carers, siblings, children and young people with ASC, mental health difficulties and/or SEN.

Please the attached flyer for more details.

Kent Autistic Trust: Family Support Information Service

Please see the attached leaflet for the Kent Autistic Trust Family Support Information Service. 
This service provides information on autism related subjects, information on disability benefits, autism alert cards, support groups, training and more. 

Kent Autistic Trust are also providing support via Facebook.

For queries about support for adults and families, please contact emilymay@kentautistic.com and for queries related to children services please contact wendy@kentautistic.com

Facemasks in shops and supermarkets from 24 July
The Government has introduced a requirement for people to wear facemasks in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020. Please find the latest Government guidance, including the exemptions here
 
Ambitious about Autism’s Right from the Start parent toolkit
This practical toolkit contains a wealth of straightforward information in one place to guide parents and carers through their child’s journey in the early years. From the autism assessment process to the first day of school, this toolkit is packed with practical tips and checklists to support parents during the earliest years of their child’s life. It also provides signposts to sources of support or additional information.
Although aimed at 0-5 year old’s there are aspects that can be applicable to older ages. To view the parent toolkit, please visit the website.
 
Know Your Normal Webinars
These webinars will be building upon the Know Your Normal research and toolkit to help bolster staff who will be supporting or seeing mental health difficulties in autistic people. This webinar would also be useful for adult services that support those 18+. You can find out more about Know Your Normal on their website

If you would like to receive the full fortnightly email digest, please contact Adam.Webb@kent.gov.uk

Byadmin

Coronavirus Round-up

Safe and Well telephone service

Involve have developed a Safe and Well telephone service, supported by Kent Fire and Rescue, which we are offering to our clients, patients at GP practices and anyone in the wider community who could benefit. The service is delivered by our trusted staff and volunteers, and provides advice, information, guidance and access to local support, including urgent collection of medication or food by the Fire service if needed. It will also make a regular friendly call to anyone who is coping ok with the essentials, but feeling lonely, anxious and worried.
If you would like to refer someone, please call us 0300 0810005 or email office@involvekent.org.uk. Please note, most of our staff are working at home, as per the guidance, and we have been very busy setting up this service and receiving referrals. If it takes a little longer to get through on the phone, please do be patient, keep trying, or leave us a message with all the info we need to make contact. Our staff at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals working in the Integrated Discharge Teams are still on site, and our Community Navigators are still home visiting to complete urgent assessments for community equipment, until we are advised otherwise.

Government Guidance for Schools, Colleges and Local Authorities

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing.  And the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.  It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.  Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.  Please read the full guidance on Childcare the gov website

Coronavirus Bill

The UK government’s coronavirus action plan, published on 3 March, set out measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak that are reasonable, proportionate and based on the latest scientific evidence. Specifically, it detailed:

what we know about the virus and the disease it causes; how we have planned for an infectious disease outbreak; what we are planning to do next, depending on the course the coronavirus outbreak takes; the role the public can play in supporting this response, now and in the future.

The plan also includes information on the government’s 4-stage strategy: contain, delay, research, mitigate. It sets out advice for how the public should respond in each stage, including what to expect as the outbreak advances.

It also envisaged that changes to legislation might be necessary in order to give public bodies across the UK the tools and powers they need to carry out an effective response to this emergency. This paper sets out, subject to final approvals, the elements of the bill and the reasons why they are needed.

The development of an effective response to the epidemic requires a number of actions. Some of these involve the use of tools and powers that are set out in statute. The governments of the UK therefore resolved to review and where necessary amend the legislation, to ensure that the UK’s response is consistent and effective.

Some of the proposed changes therefore deal with easing the burden on frontline NHS and adult social care staff, some help staff by enabling them to work without financial penalty, and some support people and communities in taking care of themselves, their families and loved ones, and their wider community.

The legislation will be time-limited – for 2 years – and not all of these measures will come into force immediately. The bill allows the 4 UK governments to switch on these new powers when they are needed, and, crucially, to switch them off again once they are no longer necessary, based on the advice of Chief Medical Officers of the 4 nations.

The measures in the coronavirus bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat we face, will only be used when strictly necessary and be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation.

We have worked closely with the devolved administrations to develop an effective package of measures to support frontline staff and individuals involved in this vital national response.  To read the Contents of the Bill, please visit the Gov. website

Carers UK Advice to Carers

We appreciate that this is a very concerning time for carers, with many worried about how coronavirus will affect their caring roles.

We’ve put together some guidance for carers which you can read at carersuk.org/coronavirus. This includes guidance on being prepared for emergencies, protecting those you care for, and information for working carers.

We’ve also been working with Carers Trust to put out a joint statement on the virus, which you can read here: carersuk.org/coronavirusstatement. The statement sets out the central questions and concerns carers have around coronavirus, and how we believe services should be preparing. We’ve put this statement to Public Health England, NHS England, local authorities, government departments including the Departments for Health and Social Care, Work and Pensions, and Communities and Local Government, and will continue to put pressure on the government and health services to account for carers in their response to the virus.

Council Makes Senior Citizen Bus Passes Valid Before 9.30am

To support earlier shopping trips, an emergency and temporary measure will be implemented from Thursday 19 March 2020.

Any holder of an English National Concessionary Travel Pass (older persons bus pass or a disabled person’s bus pass) will be able to use their passes prior to 9:30am on any bus services provided by Stagecoach, Arriva, Nu-Venture, Autocar, Chalkwell and Go Coach at no charge.
Find more information on the KCC website.

Advice from Mind on Staying at Home
You might be worried about coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoid other people.

This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing. Please visit the Mind website to see more information about how you can look after your wellbeing at this time and to plan for staying indoors or at home. 

NHS Apps Library
While Mental Health may be heavily affected for those who having to isolate during the Covid-19 outbreak, support can be found through the NHS Apps library.
If you know someone who could benefit from this kind of support, please share.

Free Resource from Calm
Without a doubt, many of us are feeling anxious as we navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19. We’re feeling it too, and we wanted to share some of the tools we’re using to take care of our minds and stay grounded. All of the resources on this page are free of charge — please share with anyone who might benefit.

Early Opening Times for Elderly and Vulnerable

Sainsbury’s Elderly-Only Shopping Time
From Monday 23rd March, our online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots. We will contact these customers in the coming days with more details.
For any online customer who can travel to our stores, from Monday 23rd March, we will operate an expanded ‘click and collect’ service. We are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country over the coming days in preparation for this. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. We believe this will also work for people who are self-isolating.  As we work to feed the nation, we are also focusing all of our efforts on getting as much food and other essential items from our suppliers, into our warehouses and onto shelves as we possibly can. We still have enough food for everyone – if we all just buy what we need for us and our families.  Read the full update here.

Nationwide Early Opening Times for Elderly
We’re trialling new branch opening times during the coronavirus outbreak so that elderly and vulnerable people can manage their money in a safe environment with a dedicated hour each morning.  From Wednesday, March 18, more than 100 branches across the UK will open from 8am, instead of the usual 9am, in a trial to determine whether it is an effective way of providing support to people aged 70 and above and those with underlying health conditions at an uncertain time.  The arrangement will enable groups of people at highest risk from coronavirus to go about their day-to-day transactions with greater confidence and safety during the pandemic.

They will be able to use the facilities first, benefiting from enhanced cleaning that branches will undergo each evening, and before they open to the wider membership from their usual opening times.  See full article on the Nationwide website.

Marks and Spencer Early Trading for Elderly
From the 20th of March, the first hour of trading at Marks and Spencer will be devoted to older and vulernable customers, on Mondays and Thursdays.  Marks and Spencer will also be open for the first hour of trading on Tuesdays and Fridays NHS and Emergency workers.  See www.marksandspencer.com/stores to find out local opening times of stores.  Please note this does not include franchise stores in petrol and railway stations.

Waitrose Community Support Fund and Early Opening for Elderly
First, Waitrose is creating a £1 million Community Support Fund to be used as direct aid for the communities you and our Partners live and work in. Your local store will have these funds to support their local area based on the needs of the community. 
Help will include setting up additional local delivery services to support people isolated in their homes; for delivering essential items to local care homes and community groups; and for donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours.   Waitrose stores will dedicate the first hour of opening as a priority shopping time for the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them. Our waitrose.com team is also looking into ways to support vulnerable customers who need food delivered to them.

Free Crafting Materials for Kids in Maidstone
Art of Mine pottery painting art studio have lots of craft materials which we are giving away to help keep you and the kids busy over the next few weeks. If you would like a bag of craft stuff please text us and we will leave one out for you.  Please text your name to 07792541149 and we will leave your bag in the entrance to the studio. The door will be opened so there is no need to come into contact with anything apart from your bag. Address is, Little Budds Farm, Coldblow Lane, Thurnham, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3LR

Byadmin

The Rubin Clinic @ Fusion Healthy Living Centre

The clinic will offer a skeleton service to vulnerable young people who need to be seen urgently.

If you have any urgent concerns then please contact The Rubin clinic between 8-10 am Monday-Friday on 01622 225713.

To order a free testing kit or for further information go to:  www.kent.gov.uk/sexualhealth

Byadmin

Hi Kent Hearing Aid Aftercare Clinic/COVID-19

We regret that, with immediate effect, we are suspending our service in most West Kent locations. This move is to safeguard our wonderful volunteers, as their wellbeing is our priority.

We are providing clients with batteries, tubes and domes as usual.

They can be collected from our Maidstone Centre

Hi Kent, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RU

Monday to Thursday 9am to 4pm

If you need new tubes and domes, bring the existing ones so we can identify them.

Alternatively, you can send your brown book and a

self- addressed envelope with a large letter stamp or two first class stamps on it. Or phone us and make a card payment to cover postage costs and we will send you the items you need – 01622 691151.

For actual repairs to hearing aids, please contact your provider.

Please check updates on our website (hikent.org.uk) and Twitter (@hikent_deaf). Batteries can be obtained from Hi Kent, – send your brown book and a SAE

(Large Letter or 2 first Class stamps) to

Hi Kent, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RU

or contact Audiology on 01622 226198

Byadmin

Advice for Self Employed

UPDATED: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to help Britain’s 6m self-employed get through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will offer a taxable grant of up to 80 per cent of a self-employed person’s income based on their taxable profits over the past three years, capped at £2,500 per month.

The scheme will only become available at the beginning of June and will have an initial three-month lifespan, to be reviewed.

And the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will only cover those who paid tax on trading profits of up to £50,000 of income in 2018-19.

HMRC will pay the single lump sum direct into people’s bank accounts.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. Instead, HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out an online form, and then pay the grant straight into your bank account.

The Treasury estimates that two-thirds of the roughly 6m self-employed will benefit from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which it estimates will cost £9bn in its first three months.

Sunak claimed the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which will cover up to 95 per cent of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment, is “one of the most generous in the world”.

Sunak said: “I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, but I know that many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them … Despite these extraordinary steps, there will be challenging times ahead. We will not be able to protect every single job or save every single business.”

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme at a glance

  • Same level of support as PAYE employees who face redundancy because of coronavirus
  • Up to 80 per cent of typical earnings capped at £2,500 per month gross. Income tax and national insurance still payable
  • Open to anybody with income up to £50,000 according to their 2018-19 tax return
  • Money paid by HMRC straight into your bank account – no need to contact taxman
  • SEISS will only go live early June at earliest
  • Available to people who make the majority of income from self-employment
  • Only those who have – or are about to make a tax return for 2018-19 tax return – can apply

The coronavirus self-employed rescue package is based on Norway’s scheme, which pays self-employed people 80 per cent of their average earnings over the previous three-year period.

The self-employed make up 15 per cent of the UK workforce and represent a sector worth an estimated £305bn.

Britain’s self-employed are a disparate group.  Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that about a third had taxable income of less than £10,000, while a small number of high-earning partners in professional firms rank among the UK’s top 1 per cent by income.

Emma Jones, founder small business support network, Enterprise Nation, said: “There will be some casualties. Those that are new to self-employment for example and those that have mortgages and bills to pay before June.”

>See also: How to get the government’s £10,000 cash grant for small businesses

What do I do now?

  • Check your prior year tax returns to assess whether you are eligible on the majority trading and £50,000 trading profit conditions
  • Get your tax return for 2018/19 filed if you have not yet done so (by 23 April 2020)
  • Grants are expected to be paid out in June, so there may still be some concern around cashflow until the grant is paid, and this will need to be factored into your cashflow forecasts
  • Consider other help you may be eligible for as a self-employed worker
  • If you haven’t heard from HMRC in the next few weeks and you believe you are eligible then do make your application to HMRC for the grant. HMRC will be checking your eligibility against its records and there will certainly be some who are in danger of falling through the cracks

Emma Beynon, a tax consultant at Kreston Reeves, said: “Remember, this is not tax-free income. The payments will form part of your trading profit for the year and be taxed along with the rest of your trading profits through your Self-Assessment Tax Returns.”

What if I’m a self-employed contractor with my own company?

The Self-Employed Income support scheme does not cover the 1.8m who are owner-managers of their companies, paying themselves mostly through dividends.

Tim Stovold, head of tax at accountants Moore Kingston,  told the Financial Times that 400,000 paid themselves mostly dividends through personal service companies.

Brian Palmer, tax policy expert at the Association of Accounting Technicians, said: “There were also no crumbs of comfort for those who are self-employed from every perspective but provide their services through a limited company, many of whom draw a low salary and top up their income with dividends. They will not qualify as self-employed or for a significant payment from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Instead, they risk dropping through the cracks.”

Seb Maley, CEO of tax specialist for freelancers and contractors Qdos, added: “The chancellor may have delivered for millions of self-employed workers, but hundreds of thousands of genuinely self-employed individuals working through their own limited companies have been overlooked.

“Like employees, these people pay their tax, contribute billions to the economy and are helping the UK through this crisis. So it’s concerning that the Government has ignored them when it matters most.”

Beynon added: “Although taxpayers who trade through their own company may consider themselves self-employed, these measures do not extend to cover the shareholder directors of personal trading company. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme offers some cover to employees but directors are unlikely to benefit as they are central to the ongoing operation of the business.”

Treasury officials argue that is impossible to know whether the dividends came from the fruits of their work or from passive investments.

Also, the government believes that some self-employed contractors have been engaging in tax avoidance by setting up personal service companies and do not deserve support.

However, the Treasury suggests that self-employed contractors who work through personal service companies and pay themselves dividends could furlough themselves and apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Applying for Universal Credit in the meantime

The chancellor said that in the meantime self-employed workers can apply for Universal Credit, which has been temporarily increased to match levels of statutory sick pay (£94.25 a week) with the “minimum income floor” scrapped.

However those applying for Universal Credit for the first time will usually have to wait for five weeks to receive a pay cheque.

And any self-employed person with savings of £16,000 or more is not entitled to any support via Universal Credit so will have to wait until they have burned through their savings in order to qualify.

Prior to today’s announcement, the government pointed out that it had already strengthened “the safety-net for the self-employed” through delaying self-assessment tax payments due in July until January 2021.

Self-employed workers will also be able to claim business interruption loans worth up to £5m.

>See also: What coronavirus small business help is available for free?

Self-employed face tax hike

Rishi Sunak also hinted that the self-employed, who traditionally pay less tax than those under pay-as-you-earn (PAYE), will have to pay more tax once the crisis is averted.

The self-employed typically pay less in income tax and national insurance than PAYE employees because their bills are based on tax-deductible profits.  According to the Resolution Foundation a self-employed worker on £25,000 pays £300 a year less in national insurance than an employee on the same salary.

Until now the tax system has recognised that the self-employed have no paid holidays or job security, and so pay less tax as a result.

Sunak said the “very significant tens of billions of pounds” being spent to treat self-employed people the same way as employed people during this time of crisis “throws into light that inconsistency and whether that is fair going forward when we’re all chipping in together to right this ship afterwards”.

Emma Jones, founder small business support network, Enterprise Nation, said the chancellor’s words were “a warning shot that this will give the government a very good reason to change employment law and implement something similar to IR35 and other tax measures with renewed vigour as the self-employed, on this occasion, have asked to be treated in the same way as employees. If this applies to tax, there will be more changes ahead for the self-employed down the line.”

Byadmin

Maidstone Borough Council Community Support Hub

Maidstone Borough Council has created a Community Support Hub to provide a coordinated response to help provide and deliver essentials to people across the borough who are most in need.

The Council led Hub has been set-up in response to the Government introduction of ‘shielding’ and the call to create a network of hubs covering the whole country for the most vulnerable. The Maidstone Hub will offer help to those people who don’t have a support system in place and to assist those people with serious medical conditions who have been told to remain indoors for 12 weeks because of the Coronavirus.

Working with local volunteer and community groups the MBC Hub will provide a service to anyone of any age who is in need of additional support at this time.

Maidstone Borough Council Leader, Cllr Martin Cox said:
“The Maidstone Community Hub is here to help our local residents who are most in need.  It will provide a service to the most vulnerable working in partnership with other agencies and community groups. This will include helping people who are socially isolated, those who may need essential groceries or medication.

“The MBC team has worked very hard to set-up this service which we believe is vital to ensuring the most vulnerable are looked after.”

The Maidstone Borough Council Community Hub will have a specific focus on providing access to food, medicines and other supplies and will be open Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm.

The introduction of the network of community hubs was announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who said free parcels of groceries would be delivered to the most vulnerable, adding: “Nobody needs to worry about getting the food and essential items that they will need.”

Those who need help from the MBC Community Support Hub should call freephone: Community Hub Triage (Freephone 0300 303 1650) or can contact us via the the MBC website: https://www.maidstone.gov.uk/home/other-services/covid-19/tier-2-primary-areas/support-for-a-vulnerable-person