Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s Liason with Bristol City Council

BDEF are keen to get the most recent information from the Council, to provide the Disabled community of Bristol the most recent information to topics concerning them during COVID19. Laura, Manager of the Forum has been in email communication with the Council and they have answered the following questions.

  1. What are you and/or government doing to support the voluntary sector – as opposed to the business sector – the vast majority of whom can’t take up loans because they don’t have enough earned income to pay them back and can’t take advantage of the government’s offer on business rates?  You need to give charities with a turnover below a certain level a 100% reduction on rates.  When will you do so?

We understand that this is a real issue and we’re continuing to develop plans in this area. In the meantime Quartet Community Foundation have set up a fund and City Funds are mobilising to provide support. We will also be pressing the government to provide appropriate support to the sector.

– Bristol City Council
  1. What are you doing to support people on Direct Payments?  Where is the database of available PAs for DP recipients to use when their usual PA[s] are off sick or needing to self-isolate?

Bristol City Council are working with Direct Payments Support Agencies WECIL and People Plus to identify the people most at risk and ensure they have the support they need.  There is no specific PA database for Bristol but any DP recipient can have help in finding alternatives to their current support arrangement if they need to, either from their support agencies or Bristol City Council Adult Care.  We are combining some useful guidance for DP recipients particularly for people who employ PAs which will distributed over the coming days.

– Bristol City Council
  1. You say many services are to become telephone and online only but you are cutting off access to the internet.  So what ‘reasonable adjustments’ will you be making for all those people who:  a. don’t have internet access now that you’re closing the libraries?  and b. can’t use the telephone for impairment –related reasons?  NB It is not only Deaf people who have impairments that prevent use of telephones.

As many face-to-face services have been cancelled in response to the coronavirus crisis we must do everything we can to ensure we are making reasonable adjustments. Wherever possible we try to ensure that there are alternative arrangements in place to meet the needs of disabled people who may not be able to access online and telephone services (including for accessing information). Because the council has 50+ different service areas this will need a tailored approach so we’re giving general guidance to Heads of Service to use alternative approaches, letting them know that our Translation and Interpreting Service can provide video interpreting for BSL as an alternative to face to face interpreting. Wherever possible we will be adding options for SMS contact to phone helplines. We should also make alternative arrangements for people to provide signatures and documents as evidence for applications etc. when they can’t do this digitally. Please inform us of any areas where you don’t see this happening.

Bristol City Council
  1. You mention the risk of scammers but fail to say what you will be doing to protect those advised to self-isolate – many of those most at risk won’t have internet access so how will you be getting information to them?

Only 47.8% of people in Bristol aged 65+ say they are comfortable using digital services, compared to 81.8% overall[1]. We will ensure that wherever possible alternative methods are provided to digital services when face-to-face services are not available, as well as making use of any available community volunteer support as appropriate. Our Mayor’s office and external communications team will be liaising with various media providers including press, radio and television to get key messages out. We are working with community teams and partners to directly contact people on the shielded patient list (where we hold that information) and other identified vulnerable groups.

– Bristol City Council
  1. I pointed out yesterday that the Can Do website wasn’t coping with the ‘volume of traffic’ – what have you set up to rectify this?

 The Can Do Bristol website is working now after urgent work with the platform developer and we are rapidly developing a large list of volunteers who we will match to those in need. There will continue to be information disseminated on all of these areas and all teams are working hard to ensure we are keeping up with national developments and putting them in to place, taking account of the vulnerable communities we serve in Bristol.

– Bristol City Council
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