Coronavirus: Councils to get more cash to help the vulnerable

PUBLISHED: 17:18 18 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:18 18 April 2020

Robert Jenrick. Photo: PA

Robert Jenrick. Photo: PA

Councils across the country are to get more cash to help the most vulnerable in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, it has been announced.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference on Saturday (April 18) housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the government would pay out £850 million to councils this month to help the most vulnerable following the virus outbreak.

He said: “We are also helping councils with inevitable cash flow challenges by deferring £2.6 billion in business rate payments to central government, and paying them £850 million in social care grants up front this month.

“Working with councils and charities, we have made huge progress in protecting the most vulnerable during this national emergency.”

Mr Jenrick insisted he was “very proud” of the effort of councils to help vulnerable people in their own areas, including securing safe accommodation for rough sleepers.

He said: “Our plan to protect rough sleepers has resulted in over 90pc being offered safe accommodation.

“Of course, this is not the end of rough sleeping. There is still a great deal of work to be done. And my department and I will be at the heart of that.”

He also asked councils to keep cemeteries open to allow families to grieve for their loved ones following the death of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton, who died after contracting Covid-19.

He said the tragedy was compounded after the family could not attend his funeral.

Mr Jenrick said: “That is not right and it shouldn’t have happened. For clarity, funerals can go ahead with close family present. Social distancing measures must be respected, but families must have the opportunity to say a respectful goodbye to those that they love.”

The housing secretary also “made it clear” to councils that all parks must remain open after some closed their gates in recent weeks but warned people must abide by social-distancing rules, and not congregate in the green spaces.

During the press conference, Mr Jenrick said 114,217 people have now tested positive for the virus in the UK - up 5,526 cases since yesterday while those hospitalised with the virus, 15,464 have now died, an increase of 888 fatalities since yesterday.

Meanwhile five more people have died in Norfolk’s hospital’s, bringing the total number of people who have died in the county’s hospitals to 164.

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