COVID-19 update from BCC

How YOU can support refuse collectors during coronavirus crisis

A plea to not overfill bins has been made to the people of Birmingham as a key way in which they can support the city’s hardworking refuse collectors during the coronavirus crisis.

In recent days the volume of rubbish being presented in some streets is well above normal levels. Households observing social distancing may be using their time at home to carry out spring cleans.

Crews are performing well despite the coronavirus issue and collections reliability is stable despite some staff self-isolating as a result of COVID-19.

But with the virus peak still estimated as being a few weeks away, staff resource could be strained further – with excess waste compromising the ability of crews to complete their rounds as they lose time having to handle the increase accumulations and by having to take their full wagons back to the depot more frequently.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “Our crews are doing a fantastic job out on the frontline during this emergency.

“But it is becoming increasingly apparent that in recent weeks some people are not following the policies we have in place for our wheelie bin service. Waste should be placed inside bins and the lid should be shut – please don’t leave extra bags or other waste beside the bin.

“The key thing is that we are still offering a weekly rubbish collection, a fortnightly recycling collection and a fortnightly garden waste collection for subscribers to that service. If you do not subscribe to our garden waste service, please do not put green waste into your other bins and consider composting it at home.

“We’d ask people to be responsible, to be even more focussed on separating waste that can be recycled and not present excess waste that could be kept back for when our Household Recycling Centres are open again.

“There is a lot of support out there for our hard-working bin crews and one of the best ways you could help them keep doing their job is to put your waste out for collection in the right way.”



B26 updating the community on the Coronavirus pandemic.

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B26 keeping up your spirits in difficult times



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Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26

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B26 keeping up your spirits in difficult times

Day 5





Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26

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B26 keeping up your spirits in difficult times

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Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26


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BCC and WMP update on COVID-19

Hard-working waste crew shocked by risky discovery during their round

Residents are being urged to follow government guidance on how to dispose of waste during the COVID-19 outbreak after a shocking discovery by one of the city council’s hard-working bin crews.


The crew opened a bin storage area at a city-centre apartment block to find open bags with used face masks spilling from them.

According to government advice, any COVID-19 related waste should be double-bagged and securely fastened before being presented for collection. It is also suggested that surfaces such as bin lids and handles are wiped before and after collection to minimise risk.

However in this case, no such precautions had been taken by those responsible. As such, to ensure their safety, the crew correctly refused to pick up the waste – which is collected weekly from the block in question.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “I was shocked and saddened when I heard about this and saw the pictures that our crew had taken.

“It is always important to present our waste in the correct way for our crews to collect it – but in this current situation, it is absolutely critical to get it right.

“Our crews have the correct protective gear for their duties. Presenting open bags of rubbish with used face masks puts our hard-working frontline employees at risk as well as other residents in their block.

“It really is quite simple. If we do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus we will be protecting the NHS and saving lives. A small number of people in this isolated case are putting that at risk – and I hope that making the people of Birmingham aware of this ensures we all put out our waste safely.”

The council has made contact with the managing agent responsible for the apartment block to ensure the situation is resolved so waste collections can take place as planned when they are next scheduled.


Good afternoon,

I have been asked to circulate the below this has been released today from the Mayor’s office but is supported by West Midlands Police.

West Midlands faith groups are stepping up to the challenge of adapting practices during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

The government’s restrictions which include a ban on gatherings to try to control the spread of coronavirus have resulted in the cancellation of church services and mass, suspension of prayers and daily activities at mosques, gurdwaras and prayer halls.

However religious groups across the West Midlands are exploring alternative methods of connecting with their followers and proactively and safely caring for vulnerable members of local communities. Religious groups are also joining forces to urge members, and the public in general, to be wary of fake news during the current crisis. They are calling for everyone to ensure they rely only on trusted news sources and not to spread anything they doubt to be factually correct.

A joint statement released today between attendees of the Mayor and Faith Conference and Citizen UK draws out the solidarity between faiths in tackling the crisis:

 “Fighting the Covid-19 pandemic to keep us all safe and well is our region’s top priority. The rapid spread of the virus throughout the world is unprecedented but we are working together to overcome it. The best way to achieve this is to follow Government advice: stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. This message comes with clear instructions around self-isolation and social distancing that inevitably affects our work, family and community life.

“Our region’s faith and non-faith communities are acting on this challenge together.  We have closed doors to all services in our places of worship; some of us have mobilised hundreds of volunteers and are working to get aid to the most vulnerable in a safe and secure way. We are all working out how religious occasions can be celebrated virtually. We welcome the opportunities which the current environment offers to find new ways to be communities of faith.

“We are concerned about the spread of fake news targeting particular communities on social media, and how this contributes to creating a hostile environment in a time where we need to be working together. We urge everyone to rely on information from trusted and credible sources and strive to work in solidarity to overcome Covid-19. We must remain united and be there for each other, these are challenging times that will require the best of our humanity.

“Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have suffered or are suffering as a result of Covid-19.

“Above all, we call on all communities, during these difficult times, to live as people of hope; that the threat we all face can and will be overcome, and that we will emerge stronger, more resilient and wiser from the experience.

“We remain stronger together.”

In 2018 the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, launched the Faith Action plan to form the basis for strong collaboration between the Mayor’s office, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the region’s faith groups.

He said: “This pandemic has changed how all of us lead our daily lives, and religious practice is no exception.

“Many religious rites that have been performed for centuries are currently not viable, but I am pleased to hear that alternative ways round this are being explored. Naturally the community response from faith groups has been swift and generous. I’ve heard lots of heart-warming examples of communities being supported by volunteers from their local faith institutions.

“However sadly during these difficult times some people see it is an opportunity to spread rumours about certain religions and their practices. I would urge everyone to please only share information from reputable sources.”

Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine from West Midlands Police chairs the Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) which oversees the multi-agency response in the West Midlands. She said: “The SCG fully supports the collaboration between the region’s faith groups, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Mayor’s office.   

“There is clearly some fantastic work being carried out by the various faith organisations to support our communities at this very difficult time, it is so important that we all come together as one big community to support and help one another.”

Anyone who wants further information about current changes to religious services should contact their place of worship directly.

Kind Regards

Georgina Johnson

Partnership Office West Midlands Police



B26 updating the community on COVID-19



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Keeping up spirits in difficult times


April 1st 2020

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Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26


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COVID-19 update

Residents praise bin crews during coronavirus crisis

Despite the challenge posed by coronavirus, the city’s waste collection crews, supported by other street scene staff, have continued to keep Birmingham clean – attracting many supportive messages.

Notes have started appearing in household windows and attached to bins, thanking the hardworking crews for their efforts to keep things running as smoothly as possible, despite the effect of the pandemic on front-line services across society.

Some of the messages attached to bins include:

  • “Thank you for carrying on and doing this. We appreciate it. Take care and stay safe.”
  • “Thank you for helping keep us safe. I have cleaned handles. We are currently symptom-free. Much appreciated chaps.”
  • “I think you are wonderful.”
  • Thank you to our binmen – you are appreciated.”

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “We are immensely proud of the professionalism and commitment demonstrated by our staff throughout this pandemic and we will continue to support them.

“It’s great that their effort to give their very best in such circumstances is being recognised by the people of Birmingham.

“The positive words are having a great effect on morale. I want to formally place my thanks and gratitude on behalf of the council alongside those kind comments from residents.”

The council, in recognition of concerns raised by a very small number of workers, has also moved to again clarify the position on protective work gear for waste management crews.

Cllr O’Shea added: “We are working closely with our public health team and the Health and Safety Executive to keep our staff and their families safe and well. We will, of course, continue to provide protective equipment necessary to keep our people safe and we’ll follow any changes to guidance.

“There is a national shortage of masks and we are looking at what more reassurance we can provide, but the key message to staff and the public is that protective gear worn as standard by our bin crews is adequate as they are not in regular face-to-face contact with residents.

“In addition, like all responsible employers we are asking anyone with symptoms to stay away from work as per the national government and NHS guidance, so only those fit for work should be presenting for duty alongside their colleagues.

“We would ask that residents also play their part in helping keep our crews safe, by cleaning their bin handles before and after presentation and by ensuring residents who have had COVID-19 or have displayed symptoms follow government guidance to tie and double-bag their waste – and wait 72-hours before disposing of it in their household bin.”


COVID-19 Update: 

In light of the impact COVID-19 is having on the economy, Birmingham City Council would like to ensure our residents are fully aware of all of the financial support which is being made available through the Government.

Going forward, we will issue a weekly update with details of any grants or relief which business can apply for with links to the relevant sources of information.

Information if you are an employee

Sick Pay

You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.

Statutory sick pay

The Government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March.

COVID-19 Sick note

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

Furloughed workers

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to. The Government plans for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least three months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.

Universal Credit

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit. From 6 April the Government will increase the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual up-rating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

Information if you are self-employed

Lay-Offs and Short-Term working

Your employer can ask you to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work for you. A lay-off is if you’re off work for at least 1 working day. Short-time working is when your hours are cut. There’s no limit for how long you can be laid off or put on short-time. You could apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if it’s been four weeks in a row or six weeks in a 13-week period. For lay-off pay entitlement and short-time working payments, you should get your full pay unless your contract allows unpaid or reduced pay lay-offs. If you’re unpaid, you’re entitled to guarantee pay.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
  • Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment.

Income tax payment deferral

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system can be deferred to January 2021.

Support for businesses paying tax: time to pay service

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Statutory sick pay

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or the new style Employment and Support Allowance. If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

Universal credit

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit. From 6 April the Government will increase the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

Support for rent costs

You should check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit. From April, we are increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

Benefits and financial support

Employment and support allowance

You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work. It gives you money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work and support to get back into work if you’re able to. You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.

Council tax support

You may be entitled to up to 100% Council Tax Support if you or your partner is:

  • A pensioner
  • Entitled to a disability premium or disabled child premium
  • Entitled to Employment Support Allowance and who also receives a qualifying disability related benefit
  • Receiving a carer’s premium
  • Receiving a war disablement pension, war widow’s pension or war widower’s pension
  • Caring for a child dependant under 6.

If you are of working age (other than those listed above) you will now have to make a contribution towards their Council Tax bill. As Council Tax Support will be calculated as a means tested discount, the amount each household will have to pay towards the Council Tax will depend on their individual household circumstances.

Council tax hardship fund

BCC has been allocated £17m through the Government’s COVID-19 Hardship Fund to deliver relief to those who are struggling to make council tax payments in the current economic climate. These reductions will be applied after any award of council tax support (CTS), and will not affect the CTS scheme itself or entitlement to any other benefits. The government expects authorities to reduce the bills of all working-age recipients of Council Tax Support by £150, or by a lesser amount if that is all that remains to be paid for the year. It does not expect taxpayers to have to apply for this reduction – authorities should already hold enough information to be able to award this automatically. It does not matter whether or not a taxpayer has been affected directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The government recommends an upfront payment, although it accepts that in some cases it may be better to spread it over the year.

Housing rental payments

Contact your landlord if you’re struggling to pay rent; they may be able to give a rent reduction or accept late payment. Make sure you get something in writing. The Government announced on 18 March that landlords will not be able to apply to court to evict tenants for at least three months. That includes if you rent from a private landlord, a housing association or the council. The new law is expected to come in very soon.

Mortgage payments

Mortgage lenders have announced they won’t apply to court to repossess homeowners for 3 months starting from 19 March. They will also allow a three-month payment holiday for those struggling to cover their mortgage because of coronavirus. Be aware that this option may mean your monthly mortgage payment goes up after the payment holiday ends. Check if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments instead. For example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account

Free advice

You can receive free and impartial advice on a range of matters from organisations including:

  • Consumer rights: Free consumer protection advice from the Government on issues including contracts, goods and services
  • Employee rights: Free advice on worker’s rights from the Government
  • Money Advice Service: Free and impartial money advice from an organisation set up by the Government
  • Citizens Advice Service: Free advice on a range of topics including debt, money and finances; law and court and consumer rights
  • Shelter: Free advice on issues such as housing, homelessness, eviction, repairs and repossession

A FINAL IMPORTANT REMINDER: if you have any concerns about coronavirus, all the important official advice to help restrict its spread and how to deal with any infection can be found on the NHS website.



B26 update on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)



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