The coronavirus crisis has once again shown the vital work that Labour councillors do at the sharp end to support our local communities. Like many other places, in Rotherham our local volunteer scheme has seen hundreds of people sign up to ensure that their neighbours get the help that they need whilst self isolating. As our community has rallied, our Rotherham Heroes have delivered emergency food parcels to more than a thousand residents, as well as helping with other basic tasks. We’ve covered the gaps in the government’s provision to those particularly vulnerable people who are shielding. In my own ward, the “Sunnyside Supplies” scheme we started has been so successful we were even approached for help by one resident of Sunnyside in Pretoria.
At the same time, we are giving extra help to those who need it with their council tax, including payment deferrals for those who have been furloughed from work, and lifting thousands of our lowest income households out of council tax altogether this year. We’ve made additional funding available to provide more online support to victims of domestic abuse. We have provided additional accommodation to dozens of people who have become homeless since lockdown began. And soberingly we are having to take extra steps to ensure that relatives of the deceased are treated with respect, and funeral arrangements are handled smoothly and with sensitivity.
There remain big questions about the Tories’ commitment to provide the funding our local councils need to get us through the coming months after a decade of austerity, but be assured that Labour councillors are standing up for our communities.