VITAL services in St Helens will be bolstered during the coronavirus crisis by £6.4 million in new cash from the government.

The funding comes from a £5 billion emergency COVID-19 fund announced by the Chancellor last month.

From that, £1.6 billion will go to local authorities to help them respond to coronavirus pressures across all the services they deliver.

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In adult social care this can include things like supporting care providers facing higher costs due to staff sickness and changing demands of care, such as increased infection prevention measures to keep staff and patients safe.

Funding in St Helens will be used towards continuing the vital work children’s services do supporting families and children in need of help.

The cash will also fund additional help for homeless and rough sleepers to make sure they are kept safe.

In addition, the money will provide extra help to those most at risk from coronavirus who face having to self-isolate for an extended period of time.

St Helens Council said the rest of the fund will support the wider demands on budgets and resources impacted by coronavirus.

Cllr Martin Bond, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are doing all we can to make sure that the most vulnerable people in our communities are protected.

“This fund will make sure we can continue to offer the vital social care services that work with thousands of families in the heart of our communities and make sure people are safe.

St Helens Star: Cllr Martin Bond, St Helens Council's cabinet member for financeCllr Martin Bond, St Helens Council's cabinet member for finance

“It will also mean that we can continue to supply many essential council services people rely on and, where possible, provide supplementary help for these areas that have been affected by the huge changes to services.

“St Helens Borough Together has shown that many people are willing to help out, and as a council we want to show that we are there with our communities to support them through these unprecedented times.”

In addition to the emergency COVID-19 fund, businesses have been getting grants of up to £25,000 to help support them through the pandemic.

St Helens Council has been issuing government grants through two schemes designed to support businesses which have been forced to shut up shop.

To date, businesses have received £7 million in grants.

Bars, restaurants, small businesses and shops have benefited from either a Small Business Fund Grant (SBGF) of £10,000 or a retail, hospitality and leisure grant of either £10,000 or £25,000.

To date, 576 businesses have been awarded the SBGF, totalling £5,760,00.

In addition, 58 businesses have received the retail, hospitality and leisure grant, totalling £1,240,000.

The council said a further £1,895,000 is ready to be processed in the next day and added that a small number of grants being processed and are due to be released “as soon as possible”.

St Helens Star: St Helens Town Centre has been hit by closures brought about the the coronavirus pandemicSt Helens Town Centre has been hit by closures brought about the the coronavirus pandemic

Cllr Bond said: “Our team has worked hard to make sure that they get these payments to the businesses that qualify as quickly as they can.

“I can’t praise them enough for their outstanding efforts at such a difficult time.

“We have a fantastic and diverse range of businesses in our borough so it is important that they are offered this support which will hopefully give some protection from the difficult trading positions they are in due to coronavirus.

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“Many businesses will also benefit from not having to pay business rates this year and again the team have been working hard to identify all those who will benefit from this additional help and automatically apply it to their accounts.”

To find out more about the grants or business rate relief including who it applies to visit and click on the business and employers page.

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