Local News

Cotswold District Council to Extend Support for Residents Facing Financial Hardship

Cotswold District Council is extending support to working-age Council Tax payers in the District who are facing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19. 

Earlier in the pandemic, Cotswold District Council set up a financial hardship support scheme to help residents financially impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 restrictions. Eligible residents could claim relief of up to £150 on their Council Tax.   At a meeting on Monday 1 March, the Council’s Cabinet agreed to extend the scheme and provide additional financial support to those residents as restrictions continue.

All those eligible who previously applied and were successful will be contacted and given additional support of up to £150 to take the total amount across the pandemic up to £300 for people with bills bigger than this. 

The Council will also provide this support to new working-age claimants that qualify for Local Council Tax Support. 

Residents can apply for the support scheme by completing a form on our website: cotswold.gov.uk/council-tax-and-benefits/council-tax-support/

Cllr Mike Evemy, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “The pandemic has had a massive impact on some people’s incomes and it’s vital that we ensure those on low incomes receive as much support as is available at this difficult time.   We are working in partnership with the Stroud and Cotswold Citizens Advice Bureau and would encourage anyone who is struggling with debt or to make their mortgage or rent payments to contact them for advice and support.  We recognise that this is a challenging economic climate and we hope this will help the finances of those most in need.”

The Citizens Advice Bureau will carry out a review of income and expenditure and will refer clients to the Council to access Council Tax Support.

For more information, please visit our website: cotswold.gov.uk/council-tax-and-benefits/

Survey Launched to Shape Future of Gloucestershire’s Fire and Rescue Service

A consultation has been launched today by Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) and the responses will be used to help form its Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) for 2022-25.

The CRMP aims to identify and assess all risks within the county that fall under the fire service’s remit. It also sets out what steps the service will take to minimise the possible impact of those risks and how effectively resources are used.

The consultation period will run for four weeks, finishing on 15 March. More information and a link to the survey can be found here – www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/glosfire/consultation-crmp-22-25/

It asks questions such as how effective you think the service is, how satisfied you are with it and if the service provides good value for money. It also asks which activities you think are most important to prioritise and if the fire service’s workforce is representative of the communities it serves.

There will be two stages to the public consultation, this being the first and there will be a further consultation on the draft document in the autumn. The CRMP will then be published in spring 2022.

Everyone will benefit from Census 2021

Households across The Cotswolds will be asked to take part in Census 2021 this spring.  The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. Understanding the needs of the nation helps everyone from central government to organisations, such as councils and health authorities, plan and fund public services across England and Wales. Census outputs inform where billions of pounds of public funding is spent on services like transport, education and health – on cycle routes, schools and dental surgeries.

Information from the census is also important in helping lots of other people and organisations do their work. Charities and voluntary organisations often use it as evidence to get funding. It helps businesses to understand their customers and, for example, decide where to open new shops. Plus, those doing research, like university students and people looking into their family history, use census data. It provides important information on population diversity, allowing organisations to know whether they are meeting their responsibilities and triggering action where necessary.

Census 2021 will be the first run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets.

“The census provides a unique snapshot of our communities,” Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at Office for National Statistics, said. “It benefits everyone. Based on the information you give, it ensures millions of pounds are invested in emergency services, mental health care, school places, hospital beds, houses, roads, GP’s and dentist’s services.  No-one should miss out. Everyone can complete online with a new search-as-you-type ability and paper forms for those who need them.”

Census day will be on March 21, but households will soon receive letters with online codes explaining how they can take part. The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

For more information and advice on how to answer the questions, visit www.census.gov.uk

Council Approves Budget Helping Communities Bounce Back From COVID-19

At a Full Council meeting this week (Wed 24 Feb), Cotswold District Councillors approved a net budget for 2020/21 of £12.5 million.  The approved budget will allow the Council to invest in the Cotswolds to improve services, protect our environment and help our communities bounce back from Covid-19.

Key elements of the budget include:

  • Supporting economic development in the District and preparing business cases for investment through our Recovery Investment Strategy
  • Continuing our work on strategic planning to ensure our updated Local Plan is ‘green to the core’ and develop a masterplan for Cirencester, meets our housing needs and acknowledges the challenge of the climate emergency
  • A £200,000 investment over two years in a new Civic Pride Programme to tackle environmental crime and improve our public realm
  • To plan and develop better, greener transport options in the District
  • Ensuring that the most vulnerable people in the District have access to support and accommodation

Cotswold District Council’s budget is funded through your Council Tax, a share of business rates and government grants. Only 7.3% of the Council Tax paid by residents comes to Cotswold District Council. The majority goes to Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucestershire Police with local town or parish councils receiving the remainder. 

The Council uses its budget to provide a range of services including waste collections, leisure facilities, fly-tipping collection, tourism services and car parks among many others.  The Cotswold District Council part of this year’s council tax bill will rise by 10p a week, or £5 a year for the average band D household. 

The Budget was approved at Cotswold District Council’s Full Council meeting on Wed 24 February. Councillors voted as follows; 20 for, 14 against, 0 abstentions. 

New Measures to Allow Proxy Voting in Local Elections for Those Self-Isolating With Coronavirus

Individuals who need to self-isolate because of coronavirus will still be able to vote in the local elections through new emergency proxy voting measures.

The move is one of a number of measures the government is putting in place to allow for fair and COVID-secure participation in the upcoming council and mayoral elections in England, and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.

The legislation, which has been laid before Parliament, will allow anyone who is self-isolating due to COVID-19 to access an emergency proxy vote, up to 17:00 on election day.

For further information read here.