Hertfordshire County Council is investing £9.6m in supporting its residents, businesses and communities to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In recognition of the repercussions of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of residents, the funding will support those most in need and is part of the county council’s wider COVID-19 Recovery Strategy.
The cross-service funding includes a £2m joint ‘Building Life Chances’ package from Adult Care, Children’s and Public Health services to tackle some of the impacts on families, including crisis intervention funding, community projects and financial advice to support families in, or at risk of poverty.
The new funds also include a 50 percent increase in Member Locality Budgets, from £10k to £15k per member, a source of community funding which proved vital during the pandemic.
Over the last 18 months, the County Council has been working tirelessly with its partners to help residents and businesses deal with the impact of the pandemic, spending around £144m on its response. This included funding adult care providers with staffing and protective PPE as well as delivering over 120,000 packages of essential food and medicines to vulnerable shielding people.
As the focus starts to move beyond critical crisis response, plans are now underway to ensure services are effectively restored and communities helped to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
The funding, which will boost Hertfordshire’s economic recovery, is being outlined in a COVID-19 Recovery Strategy Panel report being presented to Full Council on 20 July.
Cllr Bob Deering, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance said: ‘We have seen the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on our residents, we’ve witnessed the disruption to education, and we know there is increased demand across social care.
‘We have to take action now to address these issues before they take on even more significance which is why we have established this crucial fund. We want Hertfordshire to be a county where people have the opportunity to live healthy, fulfilling lives in thriving, prosperous communities, and supporting our residents as we recover from the pandemic is key to ensuring this continues to be the case.
‘As part of Covid-19 recovery, we will continue to progress towards achieving this vision, acknowledging the good practice prior to the pandemic, but also building on new ways of working, delivering services and maintaining close engagement with local communities.’
The two-year funding package includes £3m for Children’s Services to finance initiatives such as the ‘Coming Back Stronger’ programme of educational recovery, including mental health support for pupils and mentoring delivered by Herts for Learning.
A further £3m for Adult Care Services will fund programmes including supporting carers of vulnerable adults, residents with learning disabilities and autism and support for victims of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.
The county council will also be investing more than half a million pounds in apprenticeships for care leavers and support for youth employment and £600k in enhanced support for families through its family centre network, plus other new parent support.
An additional £440,000 has been earmarked for the SaverCard Plus scheme – a three-year extension of the SaverCard scheme to include 20 to 25-year olds, providing half-price discounts on bus travel.