Support for people struggling financially due to the Coronavirus pandemic

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are putting a range of measures in place to help people who are being affected financially by the Coronavirus pandemic, including support for individuals and for businesses.
Support for individuals – council tax
Hardship fund for people on Council Tax Reduction
The government has confirmed details of a £500million hardship fund. Under this scheme, people in receipt of Council Tax Reduction will receive a minimum of £150 off their council tax bill for 2020/2021, unless their bill is less than £150, in which case their bill will be reduced to zero. This is in addition to any support they already receive.
The councils are now working to confirm the amount each individual qualifying household will receive off their bill – as soon as this is complete, revised bills will be issued.
Council tax payments
Where possible, people should continue to pay their bills as normal. If someone is genuinely having difficulty paying their council tax, they should contact our council tax team on:
South residents – / 0345 302 2313
Vale residents – / 0345 302 2315

People who are currently not being paid, and are struggling to pay their bill, are encouraged to apply for Council Tax Reduction – their account will then be put on hold for 30 days while their application is processed.
To apply for Council Tax Reduction please visit or
For more information about support and advice for individuals please visit or
Advice and support for businesses
The councils are prioritising awarding the extensions to retail rate relief to existing accounts and working to identify eligible ratepayers. Work has also taken place to identify and collate the necessary information to allow the councils to pay Small Business and Retail Grants.

Letters have gone out to ratepayers who we believe qualify. To claim a grant, businesses should complete the required form which can be found at:
South business –
Vale business –

Payments will begin to be processed from week commencing 6 April.

Those that can pay their bills should do so as normal, however those businesses who are genuinely having difficulty paying their business rates should contact our business rates team via:
South business –
Vale businesses –

The South & Vale Business Support team publishes the latest government advice and support on and via twitter (@TeamSVBS), including about rates relief and business support grants. Business can also sign up to receive an e-newsletter via the website.

The website also lists the latest job vacancies for individuals seeking temporary employment, exercises to stay healthy while working from home, and links to mental health organisations.

The government has advised those who are self-employed who are in urgent need of financial assistance to apply for Universal Credit and Council Tax Reduction. This will provide them with support until a grant for the self-employed becomes available in June.

Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We are working hard to put measures into place to provide urgent assistance to council tax-payers and businesses that have been badly affected by the pandemic. Thank you to everyone for their patience during this time. Following each announcement, we have to wait for government guidance and these schemes can take time to set up and check who is eligible.”

Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know this is an extremely challenging and worrying time for many people. We hope that the measures we are putting in place will help to put people’s minds a little more at ease. Above all though, our advice is, if you are struggling to pay please get in touch with our council tax or business rates teams and they will do their best to help you.”

COVID 19: changes to kerbside collections

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have suspended their kerbside service collecting small electrical items, batteries and textiles for recycling.
This is because the recycling centres for these items are unable to accept them for processing as staff shortages due to illness and social distancing has meant work at these centres cannot continue as it did before the Coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunately, the councils do not have storage for such items and so cannot collect them at this time.
They have issued a warning to residents: Please do NOT put unwanted or broken electrical items or batteries in the general refuse (rubbish) or recycling as they can cause a fire in the bin trucks.
A fire in the truck could endanger the lives of bin crews and others nearby. A fire could also lead to the loss of a bin truck and less of a service at a time when the waste service is needed by everyone.
Cllr David Rouane, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We are sorry for this temporary stopping of the service and would thank people for their cooperation at this time. Please keep these items at home and as soon as we can start collecting textiles, batteries and small electrical items for recycling again we will let people know via facebook and twitter.”
Cllr Jenny Hannaby, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Textiles are a valuable resource for our charity partners. If residents can store them for the time being then please do so, as 100 per cent of the clothes collected from kerbside collections are recycled, no matter the quality.”
For information on changes to council services at this time please see:

COVID 19: support for local businesses from SODC

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are committed to supporting all local businesses and have launched an online form to help them apply for small business and retail grants.

Businesses in South Oxfordshire can find the form and more details via the South website and businesses in the Vale of White Horse can access the information via the Vale website.

The two councils are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to understand the UK Government’s support for businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. The Government’s package of measures to support businesses include:

 – a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
 – grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
 – small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

Both South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils are responsible for administering these programmes. Officers are working with BEIS to ensure the payment process adheres to the latest Government guidance. The businesses that are eligible for the grants and rates relief will be notified when the grants are ready to be distributed.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused distress to a lot of business owners and the councils want to do all they can to support them. Officers are working hard to issue the grants as soon as possible and provide feedback to BEIS on specific issues raised by businesses in our districts.

Cllr Robin Bennet the Cabinet Member for member for Economic Development and Regeneration at South Oxfordshire District Council said: “Small businesses in particular are likely to find the coming weeks and months difficult – that’s why we’ve made it as easy as possible for them, and all businesses in South Oxfordshire, to apply for the financial relief they’ll need.”
Cllr Bethia Thomas the Cabinet member for Economic Development and Regeneration for the Vale of White Horse District Council said: “I am pleased we have been able to get these online forms up and running so quickly. We’re doing everything we can to make sure our local businesses are able to see this incredibly difficult time through with all the support we can give.”
For further advice and support, please visit the South and Vale Business Support website: .

The quickest way for South and Vale businesses to receive information about the latest government support is to sign up to receive the newsletter at

Coronavirus scams: advice from OCC

Residents have been warned to be on their guard against criminals and scammers exploiting the coronavirus situation.

In Oxfordshire, County Council’s Trading Standards has received reports of scams targeting people via emails, text messages, and on the doorstep.

There are many genuine community efforts to help residents; to provide good quality advice and support. But unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy, and some people will take advantage of this unprecedented situation.

Here are some of the scams Trading Standards is aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:

· Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19).

· People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.

· Emails offering a refund on taxes, utility bills, or similar are usually bogus and they are just after personal and bank details.

· There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect against or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.

· There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give updates on the virus, but instead they lock your phone and demand a ransom.

· People offering to do shopping or collect medication, asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

· People offering home cleaning services.

· Remember: Banks or the police will never ask for account details over the phone.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

· Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Do not be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it, or shut the door.

· Take your time; do not be rushed into making a decision that you will probably regret.

· If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone is trying to tempt you into accepting a service, they are unlikely to be genuine.

· Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if unsure.

· If online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as or websites. Type-out email addresses. Don’t click on links in emails.

· Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.

· Protect your financial information, especially from people you do not know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.

· Know who you are dealing with. If you need help, talk to someone you know or use the contact numbers provided below.
Contact information:

· If you think you have been scammed, report it to Action Fraud:
0300 123 2040.

· If you need advice, call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline:
0808 223 1133.

· If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.

· Contact your bank if you think you have been financially scammed.

· Age UK’s runs a telephone support service (for older people and carers):
01865 411288.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit and complete the free online training.

Changes to The Bulletin & Parish Council meetings

The Bulletin
Due to issues surrounding delivery and a reduction in the volume of news items given the current situation, The Bulletin will not be distributed on a house-to-house basis until further notice. However, a link to the electronic version can be found on the Parish Council website ( additionally the village shop will stock 50 copies specifically for those unable to access the website. Please contact the Parish Clerk if this raises any concerns.

Parish Council meetings
Due to restrictions currently imposed by UK Government on gatherings of more than two people, Parish Council meetings are suspended until further notice. Routine business (mainly payments, administrative necessities and evaluation of planning applications) will continue, and the Clerk is always available should you have any queries or concerns, whether related to ongoing public health issues or other matters. Any necessary updates will be relayed via the Parish Council website or via noticeboards.

SODC Coronavirus Update

Shielding our most vulnerable

Our most vulnerable residents across Oxfordshire will have recently received correspondence from the NHS, identifying them as high risk and advising them to strictly self-isolate for 12 weeks.

We know this long term restriction may cause additional concerns for those without any nearby support and we want to make sure any shielded resident, who doesn’t know where to turn, are not handling these additional worries alone.

Local authorities across Oxfordshire have worked with the local Voluntary and Community Sector, to develop a simple point of contact for those who have been told by government that they have been identified as extremely vulnerable, and who have no support network and would otherwise be completely isolated.

From Friday 27 March this new, dedicated line will provide our extremely vulnerable residents access to a central team who will be able to offer advice on a range of issues and will be operational from 8:30am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am – 5:00pm Saturday and Sunday.

If you or someone you know has been identified as extremely vulnerable by the NHS and have no support network, please contact the dedicated team on 01865 89 78 20 or email If you live in Oxford City, you can also phone 01865 24 98 11 between 8:00am and 5:00pm or visit

For those residents who are not in a high risk category but still in need of support, there are a number of initiatives taking place across the county. You can visit Oxfordshire All In or Oxford Together for more information on community support near you.

In South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, anyone that is not considered high risk and does not have a support network around them to help, will be able to call their dedicated support line from 27 March at 9:00am on 01235 422600 or email

The County, City and District Councils in Oxfordshire are all working hard to maintain frontline council services, so for any queries related to everyday council service please check out the County, City or relevant District website.

For more advice and information on Covid-19, please visit Public Health England.

SODC Coronavirus Update Weds 25 March

Waste collections
The waste team’s well-tested service disruption plan is now in place.
Our waste contractor, Biffa, has suffered some staff shortages due to illness and self-isolation but is managing this by redeploying staff and using agency drivers.
However, with new crew members unfamiliar with the routes and in some cases fewer staff, it’s likely that on occasions, crews might not be able to complete all of their daily rounds and so some bins might not be emptied on their usual collection day. We empty 200,000 bins every week and so even a moderate level of disruption to our usual staffing can cause delays.
The advice for residents is as follows: if the bins in your street are not emptied, please leave them out for up to three days (including weekends) and we’ll try to catch up. If still not emptied, bring them back in and we will empty them on the next planned collection day.
We are working with Biffa to prioritise critical waste services. To help us with this plan we have suspended some non-essential services, including new bulky waste bookings, new garden waste subscriptions and investigating abandoned vehicles.
We will prioritise food, rubbish and clinical waste collections and some elements of street cleansing, including emptying litter bins.
We urge people to sort their waste carefully – food in food waste bins, rubbish in black bins and clean, dry, loose recycling in their green recycling bins. We’re also recommending residents wash their hands before and after taking the bins out to practice good hygiene for themselves and our bin crews.
We may have to suspend garden waste services so we can focus on essential waste collections, as other councils have, if this is the case, we will let everyone know through our social media sites and council websites.

COVID-19 scams
Thames Valley Police is urging people to be vigilant against criminals attempting to use the publicity around COVID-19 as a chance to target them with fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages or door to door services.
To stay safe residents should follow this advice on Covid-19 related scams. Residents can also receive regular updates about potential scams in their area by signing up to Thames Valley Alert Community Messaging.
Please could we ask you to be extra-vigilant as you’re likely to hear about scams during your work with community groups. If you do hear of anything suspicious, contact the police on 111.

Supporting the vulnerable
This afternoon we have issued a public message with the other Oxfordshire councils to reassure people that they can continue to shop for and deliver food supplies to people who are vulnerable, elderly and self-isolating. This was in response to mixed messages circulating about this, following last night’s government announcement. The full text is here:
If you have been shopping for neighbours or family members who are vulnerable, elderly or self-isolating, please continue to do so. The government says you are allowed to leave your home to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. Just be careful to follow the usual guidance about washing your hands and keeping a safe distance from others. Where possible, it is sensible to leave the shopping on the doorstep for them rather than handing it to them directly.
Support for shops and businesses that have now closed
Many of our shops and other businesses have either closed or will be closing following the announcement last night that all but essential businesses need to do this.
If you know of or are contacted by anyone whose business or shop has been forced to shut, please remember to direct them to our South & Vale Business Support website. We already have lots of helpful information on there and our staff are working hard to ensure it is up to date each time the government provides more detail about the help available.’

COVID-19: Parish Support Programme

In the past week or so, there have been many offers of support and good ideas for helping each other during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.

One of the initiatives that you may have seen or heard of is the ‘Kindness Card’ system. We are adopting this for our Parish and have built up a group of volunteers who will fill out one of these cards and drop it through the letterboxes of an allocated group of houses to advertise their availability to help out.  The cards will be distributed as soon as possible within the next few days.   

If you need urgent help or advice, please contact Tim Darch, Parish Clerk/RFO on 07771 893191 and he will do what he can to assist.