Advice for Residents (COVID-19)

The latest information on services and advice will be updated here regularly. This is a fast moving situation with daily information coming from government and public health agencies, and we are working hard to get residents all the answers to the questions we are being asked.

Our team are very busy supporting the national efforts to reduce spread of COVID-19. It may take us a little longer to reply to any other enquiry, so please bear with us. 

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Housing

  • What Money and Benefit Advice can I access?

    We know that you may be worried about how you'll pay your rent if you are unwell, are self-isolating or your job situation changes. We want to reassure our tenants that we are here to help. If you're worried about paying your rent, please get in touch.

    • Email: Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk
    • Send a message: Via your Mycouncilhouse account
    • Telephone:
      • Rent Accounts Team: 01962 848 205
      • Tenancy Sustainment Team: 01962 848 918

    We're here to provide help and advice.

  • What if I can’t work – do I qualify for Statutory Sick Pay?

    Please access the government website for the most up to date information on statutory sick pay

  • What do I do if I’m not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

    If you’re not entitled to SSP you may be able to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance, based on your national insurance contributions. This is paid at the rate of £73.10 per week. The government has suggested that this would be paid to self-employed workers and those on zero hours contracts. This will be available from the first day of sickness or absence rather than the eighth day.

    If you can’t get Statutory Sick Pay or New Style Employment and Support Allowance you may be able to claim Universal Credit without going to the jobcentre. This benefit is usually not paid until one month and seven days after your claim although you can ask for a repayable advance. If you’re getting other benefits such as Housing Benefit or Tax Credits these will stop and instead be part of your Universal Credit payment. You can apply for Universal Credit online here.

    You may be eligible to apply for an advance payment up front. Please note that any advance will need to be repaid by instalments out of any entitlement, so will reduce your payments.

    Find out more on the government website.

  • What if I’m self-employed and can’t work?

    HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) have set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to COVID-19. The dedicated coronavirus HMRC helpline for self-employed people is 0800 0159 559.

    If you are self-employed you are eligible to claim Universal Credit. You can apply for Universal Credit here. 

    You may be eligible to apply for an advance payment up front. Please note that any advance will need to be repaid by instalments out of any entitlement, so will reduce your payments.

    Find out more on the government website.

  • What if I’m on Universal Credit and need to self-isolate?

    If you’re already claiming Universal Credit let your work coach know as soon as possible, particularly if you can’t attend a jobcentre appointment. If you don’t let them know before you miss an appointment, you could be sanctioned. To do this, use your online journal or call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

    Most face to face appointments have now been made into a telephone appointment instead, so please make sure you mobile is on and charged. All health reassessment appointments have been suspended for three months. If you are due to attend a jobcentre appointment, but can’t because you are self-isolating or unwell, special arrangements will be put in place and appointments rescheduled. Mandatory work search and work availability will also be
    removed to account for a period of sickness.

    If your income reduces because you are unwell, have to self-isolate, or are caring for someone in your household who is affected, your Universal Credit should change to take this into account. The Minimum Income Floor (which applies to the self-employed) will also be relaxed for those affected by COVID-19.

    Find out more on the government website.

  • What additional support is being provided to extra care and sheltered housing?

    The sheltered housing team will be making frequent personal contact with all extra care and sheltered housing residents to highlight any individual needs to ensure appropriate help and support is provided where required.

    We ask that visits to our extra care sheltered scheme are avoided if possible. 

    Residents can contact the team directly by emailing shelteredhousing@winchester.gov.uk or by telephoning01962 855 335  

  • What if my council property needs repairs or improvement?

    Your safety is our prime concern and we will continue to visit council homes where an urgent repair is required. In order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, all other non-urgent repairs will be logged and scheduled for a later date. During this period the usual green card system will be suspended and replaced with a direct acknowledgement email or telephone call from our Customer Liaison Officer.

    Should you already have an appointment date for a non-urgent repair, we will be in touch to reschedule the date.


Benefits and Welfare 

  • Can I receive discretionary housing payments?

    Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) can provide extra money where you need extra help to meet your housing costs, for example there is a shortfall between your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs and your rent liability.

    For further information about benefits and welfare services, click here

  • How can I pay my rent if I’m self-isolating or unwell?
    • Online - You can pay on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week on our website. Please make sure you include your seven digit reference number.
    • Direct Debit - You can set up and manage a Direct Debit through your online customer account
    • Over the phone - 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 01962 848205
    • Via your tenancy online account - Mycouncilhouse
    • Bank transfer - you can pay your rent straight form your bank account to ours. Our account number is 00000000 and our sort code is 62-23-59. Please quote your seven digit tenancy reference number so that we know who the payment is from.
  • What if I can’t pay my rent?

    We know that some of our customers are worried about how they will pay rent if they are unwell or need to self-isolate. We want to reassure all our customers that no one will lose their home as a result.

    You will still need to pay your rent, but if you are in financial difficulties, we can give advice on options available to you. If you’re worried about paying your rent, please let us know as soon as possible.

    Get in touch with us:

    • Email: Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk
    • Send a message: Via your Mycouncilhouse account
    • Telephone:
      • Rent Accounts Team: 01962 848 205
      • Tenancy Sustainment Team: 01962 848 918
  • Advice about benefits and rent payments

    We can provide specialist advice and support to tenants struggling to pay their rent. Our aim is to work with residents to sustain their tenancies.

    The council also commissions an independent Money Advice service which is provided by local advice charity, Citizens Advice Winchester District. The best way to contact them currently is on their Local Call Back Service 01962 848 003 or 01489 890 940  or by email advice@winchesterdistrictcab.org.uk. Visit their website for more information www.citizensadvicewinchester.org.uk

    Visit www.gov.uk/housingbenefit to find out about Housing Benefit and Universal Credit from The Department for Work & Pensions.

    If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness or concerned about your current housing situation and would like to discuss your situation with a member of the housing options team, please complete the registration form on Jigsaw Customer Portal and your referral will be sent to a housing options officer who will make contact with you to discuss your situation. You can also email homelessness@winchester.gov.uk or call 01962 848 163 or call the Customer Service Centre 01962 840 222

    For further information on housing services, click here


Waste, recycling and street cleaning

  • What is happening to my waste collection?

    All waste collections remain fully operational at this time however as of Monday (March 30) there will be some temporary changes, to find out more about them visit our new service changes due to COVID-19 page https://www.winchester.gov.uk/covid19/service-changes

    Due to collections taking longer, we need to start some rounds earlier. Please place bins out for collection the evening before your scheduled collection day, or by 6.15am on your collection day as per your waste calendar. This is 45 minutes earlier than the usual time to allow the staff to stagger their start times and reduce their contact with others.

    Please take extra care to disinfect or clean the handle of your wheeled bin or box when you put it out and after collection.This is an extra precaution for the crews and you to reduce the risk of passing any infection

    Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

    Biffa teams cannot collect extra refuse left alongside your bin. 

    However, if you have extra recycling which can not fit in your blue lidded bin Biffa will collect it providing it is securely contained in clear plastic sacks or in a cardboard box.

    We want to take care of our crews so they can continue to work for as long as possible and we want to avoid them coming into direct contact with waste.

    If you have extra waste or recycling , please bag it up securely and store it.

    Please put it in your bin for the next scheduled collection.

  • Can I continue to take waste to household recycling sites?

    Hampshire County Council has confirmed that from Monday 15 June you must have an appointment to visit an HWRC. If you visit an HWRC without an appointment you will be turned away. Sites will be open from 9am to 6pm seven days a week, however you will have to book a 30-minute slot up to 48 hours in advance. From Thursday 11 June you can book a slot by phone or online by following the link here.

    There are additional measures in place to ensure the safe operation of the sites – please visit their website for more information. 

     

  • What if I am unwell?

    If you are unwell even for a short period, you can request an assisted collection by emailing customerservice@winchester.gov.uk or calling 0300 300 0013.

  • What should I do with my waste if I have COVID-19?

    On 11 March the government provided guidance on how to dispose of your waste correctly. Anyone who has tested positive or is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 should double bag their waste and it should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage.

    Please find further information here: https://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/defra-coronavirus-waste-disposal-advice/

    For further information about our waste, recycling and street cleaning services, click here


Council Tax

  • What happens if I can’t pay my Council Tax?

    The Benefits & Welfare team can provide specialist advice and support to residents struggling to pay their rent or pay their Council Tax. Council Tax Reduction can help pay your Council Tax if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits.

    If you are single and pay Council Tax but share your home with another adult who is on a low income and does not pay rent, you may be able to get Second Adult Rebate on your Council Tax.

    For more information about council tax, click here

  • Council Tax support

    We’re committed to helping residents who may be struggling financially due to the limitations placed on households as we look to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  There is a range of measures we have in place to support you.

    • If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax then please contact our team on 01962 848 288 or email counciltax@winchester.gov.uk. We’ll provide helpful assistance based on your individual situation and work with you to arrange a suitable payment plan.

    If you currently pay your Council Tax over 10 months we can spread those instalments over 12 months or alter the timing of your payments for you. Please see the back of your Council Tax bill for details.

    If you are:

    • unemployed;
    • claiming benefits; or
    • on a low income

    Our Benefits & Welfare team can help you to claim Council Tax Reduction. This will help you to pay your Council Tax.

    • Residents of working age, who already benefit from some Council Tax Reduction, will receive an additional £150 off their Council Tax bill. Eligible households will receive this automatically. A revised Council Tax bill will be issued shortly.

    For further information or assistance on Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Second Adult Rebate and Discretionary Housing Payments, or to make a claim for these benefits, please visit www.winchester.gov.uk/benefits or phone 01962 848 539.

    If your financial circumstances have not changed and you are able to pay your Council Tax then you will help the council to help those that are struggling by not asking to amend your payment plan – thank you.


Homelessness

  • What additional support is being provided to people who are homeless or rough sleepers?

    We have services in place to check on rough sleepers on a daily basis which ensure people are well, provided with up to date public health information and critically, not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. We are sourcing a variety of accommodation options to ensure rough sleepers can self-isolate for a minimum of seven days. Alongside key partners, we are monitoring this situation extremely carefully taking account all relevant guidance as it is published, to ensure that the needs of vulnerable homeless people are met.

    For a detailed view on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and rough sleeping visit www.winchester.gov.uk/covid19/service-changes

 

Public transport

  • Are the Park & Ride services still running?

    On Monday June 1, we will go back to a normal timetable. However there will be some changes to the way the service operates.

    We hope passengers understand that the changes are for their safety and these include 

    • Waiting for others to get off the bus before you get on
    • Using contactless to pay if you can
    • Sitting with at least two metres between you and other passengers 
    • Wearing a face mask

    If you can see it’s too busy to do this, please wait for the next bus – they are running every seven minutes at peak times – thank you.

    The timetable can be found here Park&Ride timetable (pdf, 60kb)

  • Will the car parks remain open?

    Car parks remain open at this time.

  • Park & Ride parking charges

    To support the NHS and other key workers at this crucial time, we are providing free parking in car parks across the district and in our Winchester Park & Rides. You will need a pass for your windscreen so if you fall into this category please contact us at: parking@winchester.gov.uk

    Standard parking charges remain in place across our car parks for all other drivers.

Leisure centres

  • Is my leisure centre reopening?

    We are considering the best approach to reopening River Park Leisure Centre, Winchester and Meadowside Leisure Centre, Whiteley following the government announcement. Our opening plans will be developed with our centre operators, and need careful consideration of further guidance that comes from the Government following this announcement, so that people can return with confidence. 

    The council’s cabinet will consider a detailed report on this matter on 22 July 2020 and we will share more information as plans are finalised. 

    To find out more visit https://www.placesleisure.org/centres/river-park-leisure-centre and https://www.placesleisure.org/centres/meadowside-leisure-centre/

  • Ways to stay active

    We understand that, at times like these, it can be difficult to keep motivated and remain active. During this period of enforced restriction on your movement we would like to offer our support. Please see information below as to how to remain active at home.

     

    Sport England

    Sport England have recently launched their new campaign; ‘Join the Movement’ which promotes physical activity with lots of fun ideas on how to keep active at home, with exclusive offers and workouts from a number of well recognised fitness providers as well as ideas get active outside. By using the hashtag #StayInWorkOut you can share your experiences and encourage others to do the same using the hashtag. For further information please visit https://www.sportengland.org/stayinworkout

    To keep up to date with new content you can also sign up to Sport England’s newsletter - https://www.sportengland.org/news/join-movement or follow their social media @Sport_England

    Support for projects and organisations

    With the coronavirus pandemic having a profound effect on the sport and physical activity sector, Sport England have pulled together advice and resources to support projects and organisations through this crisis.

    These resources share best practice and have clear actions to help keep the nation active and plan for the future.

    For more information please click here.  

     

    Winchester City Council & ActiveMe 360: #ActiveMeAtHome

    The Sport & Physical Activity team have continued their partnership with ActiveMe 360 during these unprecedented times to help structure their ‘#ActiveMeAtHome’ campaign, providing FREE resources and activity ideas for schools and families to use, helping children remain active, develop their skills and continue with their learning.

    The resources cover physical active learning, healthy lifestyle recipes and a range of other educational resources that can be completed at home.

    All the resources are on the #ActiveMeAtHome homepage which can be accessed on the following website: www.activeme360.com/activemeathome/ and if you have any questions please contact joe.taylor@activeme360.com

     

    Winchester City Council: Active Lifestyle Classes

    As part of the Active Lifestyles scheme we offer a number of classes to improve your health and wellbeing. Please click here to and visit the tab on the right hand side to access our Home Exercise Booklet for low level exercise which you can try at home.

     

    Active Partnership: Energise Me

    Energise Me have also produced a list of ideas and advice for getting active at home. Please visit https://www.energiseme.org/getting-active/getting-active-at-home/. Alongside this, further information has ben produced to support children whilst learning at home https://www.energiseme.org/schools/daily-activity/active-home/

     

    Park Yoga

    Winchester City Council have teamed up with Park Yoga to give you FREE virtual sessions! - Grab a yoga mat, towel or blanket - head out into your garden (if you have one) - and join us from your own home with Virtual Park Yoga. Virtual sessions will be starting Sunday 3rd May, in place of our planned weekly events.

    How can I get involved?

    • Every Sunday at 9.30am from 3rd May
    • Live on Facebook and YouTube.
    • Sessions will remain on social media for you access at a later time and date, and will remain on the website for one week.

    Park Yoga is a charity that provides free outdoor yoga sessions around the UK. The weekly sessions usually run throughout the summer for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, with an aim to encourage people to take part in activities outdoors.

    These virtual sessions are FREE, everyone is invited and all abilities are welcome. If you are looking to experience yoga for the first time, try a new class or just enjoy practicing in natural surroundings then Park Yoga is for you.

    Whilst Park Yoga isn’t able to bring you these sessions at the moment, we hope you will embrace the spirit of Park Yoga and get out in your garden for your practice where possible. Otherwise please enjoy the sessions in the comfort of your own home and we look forward to welcoming you to our online community.

    For more information:

    Direct link to first session (Sunday 3rd May)

    Facebook live: https://fb.com/parkyogauk/videos/807374169786420/

    YouTube live: https://youtu.be/wRcTOFJ6f20

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/parkyogauk

    Instagram: www.instagram.com/parkyogauk

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCghLHxCema8kDb-fGqG2OHQ

    Website: www.parkyoga.co

     

    One You – Couch to 5k

    Join the Country’s biggest virtual running community. Public Health are working in partnership with BBC Get Inspired, Sport England and London Sport to launch a 9-week Couch to 5k challenge helping you become physically active whilst social distancing measures remain in place.

    ‘One You’ Couch to 5K is a 9 week running programme that can encourage even complete beginners to become more active, by making it easy and fun. Starting by running for just a minute at a time, the programme sets realistic expectations and makes the challenge feel achievable from the start. The app has also been updated to link to the latest advice on social distancing guidelines when exercising.

    Using #Couchto5k you can share your journey and inspire others.

     

    Active at Home

    Public Health England in partnership with Sport England have published further resources to help older adults stay active. The new ‘Active at Home’ booklet aims to help older adults keep up their activity levels while isolating due to coronavirus as a drop in physical activity levels can lead to physical deconditioning that increases the risk of falls, loss of physical capacity and increased need for care.

    Produced to provide practical guidance to older adults on home-based activities to maintain strength and balance, this booklet follows the concerns that low levels of physical activity in older adults will lead to reduced fitness resulting in loss of independence and need for care in the future.

    To download your copy please click here.

     

    If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Sport & Physical Activity team on sport@winchester.gov.uk

Play areas and open spaces

  • Are playgrounds open?

    We’re delighted that our play parks and outdoor gyms can open and we’re supporting families to make sure the experience is fun as we all continue to do everything we can to prevent further spread of the virus.  

    When you come to a play park, please:

    • Accompany your child/children
    • Sanitise their hands before and after
    • Don’t eat or drink in the play area
    • Put any litter in the bins - if they are full please take the litter home with you
    • Encourage your children not to put their mouths on the equipment or put their hands in their mouths
    • Observe the suggested limit on numbers – both in the play area as a whole, and on individual items of equipment
    • Be aware some play equipment may be disabled to support social distancing
    • Be considerate – if a lot of people are waiting, limit your children’s time on the area so everyone can enjoy the park

    Outdoor gyms are also subject to limits on numbers – please check the signs before entering.

  • Are open spaces still open?

    Council open spaces are open for your use. Government guidance is that you should only use these alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.

 

Car boot sales 


Public toilets

 

Public meetings

  • Will public meetings continue?

    Council meetings are now being held virtually, which means that they are not physically being held in locations at the Guildhall. Details about virtual meetings and how public participation will work can be found here 

    Most public meetings will continue to be live streamed with a playback option.

 

Council Services online

 Be a good neighbour – Bonfires and BBQs

  • Advice on Bonfires and BBQs

    During this time, we’re asking residents not to burn garden or household waste.

    With more people at home susceptible to the side effects of inhaling smoke due to respiratory illness like Covid-19, it’s likely that your neighbours will be adversely affected by bonfires. Our advice is  either to compost garden waste or keep it in a safe place until these restrictions are lifted.

    If you’re affected by smoke caused from bonfires or BBQs, please do speak to your neighbour first (and be mindful of social distancing) as they might be unaware of the impact it is having on you.

    If you have any concerns about environmental issues in your neighbourhood, please contact our team on 01962 848097, email: EH@winchester.gov.uk, or visit: www.winchester.gov.uk/environment

     

Caring for animals during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • Information and guidance

    We’re receiving more enquiries about animals and Coronavirus. The good news is, there is no current evidence of COVID-19 circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there’s also nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans. The advice is to wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals. There is more helpful information for people with animals here.

    You can also find useful advice from the RSPCA on how to care for your animals here.

  • I’m worried about my pet if I get ill…

    Dogwalking

    If you’re unwell and your dog cannot exercise at home, you can ask someone you know outside of your household to walk your dog for you. There are also many community groups on hand that may be able to help.

    Vets

    All non-essential trips to vets should be avoided, but if your pet needs urgent treatment, please make contact with your vet to seek guidance for your pet’s needs.

    Pet care if you fall ill

    The RSPCA has prepared helpful advice about looking after pets if you fall ill.

    Pet care during housing difficulties

    The Dogs Trust offers support and advice for homeless people and people in housing difficulties who are worried about keeping their pets with them.

  • Can I still walk my dog, or someone elses?

    Yes - you can combine your exercise once a day with walking your dog. Please remember to remain two metres away from anyone outside of your household. The Kennel Club has more helpful information about walking your dog here.

    You can also leave your house to provide care, or help a vulnerable person. This includes walking a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house because they are self-isolating or being shielded. You should remember to wash your hands before and after handling their dog, and keep two metres away when handing over the dog to their owner. There is helpful information on walking someone else’s dog here.

  • What can I do to keep my dog occupied whilst at home?

    The Dogs Trust has provided some top tips on how dog owners can keep their pets happy and active at home. You can read it here.

  • Advice for horses, livestock and other animals

    If you own a horse or livestock, more guidance can be found here.

    There is additional useful information about horse welfare during this outbreak here.

    The British Horse Society also has this advice.

  • Animal-related businesses

    Information for animal-related businesses such as kennels, catteries, dog walkers, dog groomers, dog and cat breeders, and pet shops here.

    If you own a business and need advice or support, you can find more information here.

  • Should I renew my licence as usual?

    Yes, if your licence is due to expire, please reapply as usual. Although we are not able to carry out an inspection until restrictions are lifted, we will send you a holding letter which allows your licence to continue until an inspection can take place.

    If your licence is due to expire but your business is currently not operating due to lockdown restrictions, you do not have to make an application until your business is ready to start up again.

    For further information on animal licences click here.

    If you own a business and need advice or support, you can find more information here.

  • Is the council still assisting with stray dogs?

    Yes, although we are taking extra steps to ensure our teams can apply hygiene and social distancing measures.

    Further information on stray dogs is here.