Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery plan for Barnsley

A lot has changed over the past year which has meant that we’re facing tough challenges ahead. We’re doing everything we can as a council to support our residents and businesses across the borough.

In the background, we’ve been working with our partners to develop a Recovery and Renewal Strategy which sets out how we’ll work to restore our borough and help communities to move on from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We can only do this if we all work together to make sure that our work to recover and transform Barnsley truly takes effect.

We have learnt lessons from the pandemic so far and seen lots of positive developments which we want to keep, to rebuild a better Barnsley and action regeneration in our communities.

Our purpose

Our purpose is clear, and we must continue to support you and your families to positively move on from the pandemic. This includes:

  • Supporting our residents and businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Helping vulnerable children and adults who need support.
  • Helping services and businesses, in line with changing Government guidelines.
  • Reviewing and revising our budget to ensure we can deliver the services people need.
  • Celebrating the contributions made by people and commemorate the loss of those across the borough.
  • Supporting the health, social, economic and political wellbeing of our communities to recover and renew.
  • Aligning our plans to our Barnsley 2030 vision and ambitions.

Our strategy

Our strategy sets out five themes that we’ll focus our efforts on as part of our recovery and renewal plans; these include:

Health and wellbeing

  • Continue to help to reduce and suppress infection across the borough and restore the health and wellbeing of Barnsley people.
  • Support people affected by increased social isolation and other social impacts of the virus.
  • Provide mental health and wellbeing support to residents and employees.

Mobile testing units

A mobile testing unit (MTU) has been made available at a number of sites across the borough so that people can access a COVID-19 test. Find out more information about our mobile testing units.

The MTU is in addition to the local testing sites at:

  • Lower Courthouse car park, County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
  • Dorothy Hyman Sports Centre car park, Cudworth, S72 8LH
  • Summer Lane car park, Wombwell, S73 0DD

These sites are accessible by car and on foot. They're open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.

Due to national demand, which has been widely communicated by the media, all testing sites are now only for those people with symptoms and appointments must be booked. This is in order to manage demand on the testing system and to maintain social distancing.

24-hour helpline

If you're an adult experiencing emotional distress, you can get confidential help and support 24-hours a day by calling 0800 183 0558.

This helpline provides a listening ear, emotional support and guidance to adults with new or existing mental health conditions, as well as support for carers.

Active travel

We want to encourage as many people as possible to walk and cycle for their short journeys or travelling to school or work. We’re developing and making improvements to the infrastructure around Barnsley so more people can use active travel easily. We are currently working on some fantastic new opportunities to promote active travel, with some routes in the planning phase. This includes the Stairfoot to the town centre route, from the interchange to Barnsley Hospital and the Trans Pennine Trail along the Worsbrough to Elsecar route.

For ideas on how you can stay active, and how to use active travel instead of relying on the car, check out the #WhatsYourMove campaign. Other inspiration is provided from the Walk Well initiative for free, short, organised walks around the borough.

Business economy

Thriving Barnsley

  • Protect jobs and keep people in work.
  • Bring back business confidence.
  • Keep our high streets and visitor attractions safe and welcoming.

Our Enterprising Barnsley service is working with local businesses to ensure that they safely operate for customers across the borough. We’re listening to customers to understand their concerns, so Barnsley’s high streets and visitor attractions remain safe and welcoming, while remaining compliant with COVID-19 restrictions.

For business support, please visit the Enterprising Barnsley website and use the online chat function to speak to one of our business support advisors.

EU transition

We’re keeping a close eye on the situation around the EU transition as a council.

Libraries

We are pleased that Barnsley Libraries have been able to resume some of their services as we have moved through the pandemic. Libraries across the borough began opening their doors and have been able to offer, at different times, residents the opportunity to browse books, use the order and collect service and pre-book computers.

All sites are following government guidelines and helping you to visit each site safely. Find out more information about our local libraries.

Community resilience

  • Protecting the most vulnerable people in society.
  • Ensuring our communities are strong and resilient and are able to thrive after COVID-19.
  • Preventing people from falling into crisis.

Financial hardship

The council was awarded £350,000 as part of the government's emergency financial hardship funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the council matched this with £270,000 of internal funding. The money will be used to help people in the borough who have been directly affected by the pandemic. We know that many of our residents will have been affected financially as a result of the pandemic and find themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own. We have several initiatives set up to support local people who have been directly impacted by the virus and this money will help us to support those projects and those people. We want to help people get back on their feet as soon as possible and hope that the hardship fund can go some way towards doing that.

For more information, or to see what support is available, please visit barnsley.gov.uk/money-advice-and-support.

Healthy holidays

Barnsley healthy holidays has had another successful year. Our area teams have been working with partners to support families who may have needed extra support to access food and activities to keep them healthy through the holiday periods. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen families affected by financial hardship. To make sure the holidays were healthy, safe, and to encourage communities to support one another during these difficult times, the area teams have been on hand with activities and support; some of these included fruit bags, recipe cards, cooking videos, activity packs and discovery trails.

Winter planning

Colleagues across the council are working with partners at Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, Barnsley Hospital and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to forward plan for winter.

Work is happening around keeping people warm and well, and we will be supporting the Public Health England campaign with health partners and encouraging Barnsley residents who can get a flu vaccination to do so. This will help to keep people safe and well and prevent extra pressure on the NHS during the winter. Keep an eye out for information on how to reduce falls for people over 65 and the help that’s available to keep homes warm throughout winter.

If people need support accessing grants or vouchers to make their homes warmer or help with their energy bills, please call our Warm Homes Team 01226 773366 or find out more about getting ready for winter.

Find out more information about our winter plan.

Education and skills

  • Supporting schools and colleges in providing remote, online learning where necessary due to COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Supporting nurseries, early years and child care settings to safely remain open.
  • Children and young people supported to catch up and succeed in learning.
  • Ensure adults can access learning to improve their wellbeing and employability.
  • Further improve access to digital and online learning for all.

Schools

In September 2020, schools successfully welcomed back pupils from all year groups, after undertaking thorough risk assessments and putting in place a number of robust arrangements to keep staff and pupils as safe as possible. There have been a number of positive COVID-19 cases, these have been unavoidable as we have seen a number of cases across the borough, originating in the community. Affected schools have acted quickly, working with Public Health England and our own Public Health team here in the council to ensure the safety of pupils and staff in all cases by closing the necessary bubbles. Parents, carers and staff have been notified immediately and kept updated.

Since the announcement of national restrictions starting from Monday 4 January 2021, schools and colleges will move to remote, online learning. Schools will stay open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers, who may continue to attend school. Parents are encouraged to contact their school for further information and advice.

We’re working with schools to identify where children may have lost learning over Coronavirus pandemic and to ensure that we have ways to continue education services, including online learning facilities.

Infrastructure and the environment

  • To support public transport services and restore public confidence.
  • Progress with our infrastructure and transport projects.
  • Continue to support active travel and other modes of transport across the borough and build on our zero-carbon ambition.

Waste services

In terms of bin collections, we appreciate that the service has not been as good as it could be. Measures introduced to protect both residents and the workforce required changes to the way waste is collected. Over the last few weeks this has been also impacted by the fire at a waste transfer station on Grange Lane. Please be assured that we are working hard to improve the quality of the service for our residents.

We’re continuing to work on projects to reduce our carbon emissions and lessen our impact on the environment. During the pandemic we have approved our first Sustainable Energy Action Plan which will guide our carbon reduction work for the next five years. Find out more about reducing carbon emissions.

We’re continuing with plans to create our Barnsley 2030 vision and ambitions, although the current crisis will change how we deliver this. We are, together with the Barnsley 2030 Place Board, committed to building a clear view of our future following on what you told us as part of the engagement activity in early 2020. We will be providing you with an update on this shortly.

We’re continuing with plans to create our Barnsley 2030 vision and ambitions, although the current crisis will change how we deliver this. We are, together with the Barnsley 2030 Place Board committed to building a clear view of our future following on what you told us as part of the engagement activity in January and February. We will be providing you with an update on this shortly.

Challenges we’re facing as a council

We could never have imagined, or fully planned, for how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected our borough.

The additional cost of dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and maintaining critical services far exceeds the £35 million Government funding we've received to date. The expected loss of income from council tax, business rates and other charges is anticipated to contribute to an overall funding gap, after the funding from Government, in the region of £15 million.

One positive is that we have an excellent track record for sound financial management, and we came into the financial year with a positive outlook. We're continuously looking at the council's financial position as the data is frequently changing, but it's clear that this is a significant challenge for us, and it will have an immediate impact, as well as in years to come.

We have to make difficult decisions about how we deliver our services, but our aim is always to keep critical services running for our residents while protecting the most vulnerable in our society. These are not easy decisions to make, and we understand from the previous years of austerity measures, the effect that this has on our residents.

It's a challenging position to be in, and we'll be planning how we manage our budget deficit over the coming months.

Barnsley's COVID-19 story

Our COVID-19 story campaign looks back at the borough's response to the pandemic. We're celebrating how the council, our partners, and Barnsley people have changed the way we work, and supported communities, businesses, and each other.

Learn more about the campaign and watch stories from across Barnsley on the Barnsley's COVID-19 story webpage.