Partnership approach between councils goes from strength to strength as county council shares grant cash with districts

Residents in Oxfordshire will continue to benefit from grant funding that the county council is sharing with district councils as partners across local government continue the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oxfordshire County Council has already received £7m from the national Contain Outbreak Management Fund and the government has told councils that some funding will continue until the end of March.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “All six councils have worked in very close partnership since the start of the pandemic. Although the grant funding comes to the county council, we felt that we must share it with our colleagues at district councils to help support the invaluable work they are doing.

“This money will continue to be of great assistance as we continue to manage the local impacts of the pandemic through what we hope will be its latter stages. The grant has been and continues to be of assistance for 2020/21, although it can be used for ongoing costs that run in to 2021/22.”

The county council is retaining 50 per cent of the money received and it is being spent on local testing and contact tracing services, social care services, the COVID Secure team which helps business comply with regulations that help keep people safe, and to support the work of the voluntary and community sector.

Meanwhile the other 50 per cent of funding is being divided between Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council to take measures to manage the pandemic based on the services they provide.

Councillor Barry Wood, the leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “As we know all too well the pandemic has been tough in so many ways, but one of the positive aspects locally has been the way each of the Oxfordshire councils have worked together as a team to help residents and businesses navigate this difficult period in our history. The sharing of this funding is a further indicator of this joint work and we will all continue to work hard for the people we serve.”

Councillor Susan Brown, the leader of Oxford City Council, said: “We are using the Government funding earmarked for use across all councils to ensure there remains strong support through our local hubs for vulnerable households, particularly those that are housebound, with the provision of food deliveries, medical supplies and other necessities. That includes support for the many community food networks and advice centres across Oxford. It is also helping with the processing of hardship payments for self-isolating households and grant support to businesses. And the funds have enabled the recruitment of additional staff within the Oxford COVID Secure team that provides advice and support to both businesses that continue to operate and shoppers and visitors within the city.”

Councillor Sue Cooper, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “The ongoing impact of the pandemic is hard for everyone. We need this grant to help us serve the towns and villages in South Oxfordshire through the current lockdown and beyond.”

Councillor Emily Smith, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The Oxfordshire councils' response to the pandemic has been a true joint effort, with each local authority providing the services to the public it is best placed to deliver. This specific funding will support the Vale of White Horse District Council to continue providing the 'boots on the ground' to deliver Test and Trace, Covid Marshalls, and help for local businesses to operate safely.” 

Councillor Michele Mead, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This funding is significant and very welcome as we continue to help residents and businesses in the battle against COVID-19. We are developing our plans to identify specific uses for this money to ensure we are giving the most effective support possible.”