Covid-19 - Coronovirus - Information and Changes to Services

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Section: Coronavirus

Information and Changes to Services


On this page you will find the links to national information and guidance on coronavirus and also advice and updates from local services who are having to work in a different way with children and families. The following is the information we have received this week. Previous weekly updates can be found here


You may also want to take a look at Wiltshire Council's dedicated Coronavirus page on its website [HERE], which will be kept updated with information about Council services that may be affected by COVID-19.

Opening Schools and Educational Settings to More Pupils from 1st June 2020

On 11th May 2020, the Government published information for parents and carers to help prepare for the wider opening of nurseries, schools and colleges from 1st June 2020. The latest information contains: -

  • An explanation about why can more children now attend school and childcare settings
  • What the latest scientific evidence says
  • Which children can return to school
  • Managing risks
  • Will it be compulsory to send your child to school
  • What to do if your child has an underlying health condition or lives with someone in a clinically vulnerable group
  • Testing children for the virus
  • What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in your child’s school, college or childcare setting
  • Travel to and from childcare, school or college
  • School meals
  • Childcare, schools and colleges’ opening hours


The new information describes provision for vulnerable children and says that educational settings should continue to offer places to priority groups. For children who have a social worker, attendance is expected unless their social worker decides that they are at less risk at home or in their placement. For children who have an education health and care (EHC) plan, attendance is expected where it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment. For children who are deemed otherwise vulnerable, at the school, college or local authority discretion, attendance is expected where this is appropriate.

You can read the Government guidance for parents and carers [HERE].

What Do You think about the Government’s Proposals for Children and Young People to Begin Returning to School or College from June?


The Prime Minister has set out a recovery strategy to begin bringing the country out of the lockdown measures that were imposed to help protect us all from the Coronavirus. One of the measures in the recovery strategy is to begin the phased return of children and young people to nurseries, schools and colleges in a way that is measured, reduces risks and is guided by science.

The WPCC would like to know how you feel about this and we’d be grateful if you could answer our very [short survey]. All feedback will be anonymous and we will share with Wiltshire Council. The survey will close at 5pm on Sunday 24th May 2020.

A Safeguarding Message from Wiltshire Police Public Protection Department

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The current restrictions on our daily lives will no doubt be more difficult for some than others and we understand that people of all ages may be struggling to cope.


While the need to stay at home is crucial, we know that on occasion people do go missing. If your child, or a child you know has gone missing, and you have genuine concerns about their welfare, do not delay in reporting concerns to police. You will not be fined/ prosecuted under Covid-19 powers for carrying out any reasonable enquiries to find them yourselves. Our officers will do all that they can to understand individual circumstances and provide support where needed.

Always call 999 in an emergency.

If you need help and want to speak to someone, Missing People charity is available 24/7 – call 116 000, text 116 000 or chat online via www.runawayhelpline.org.uk

Frequently Asked SEND Support Questions During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Each week, the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) is posting a new set of FAQs from parent carers and professionals in response to questions they have been receiving relating to SEND issues experienced nationally during the coronavirus pandemic.


See [CDC FAQs] to read the questions and answers so far.

Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living's Survey Report

Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living recently conducted a survey for disabled people and their carers to get a snapshot of what their experiences have been during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to see the results.

Coronavirus Outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS. The information was updated on 11th May 2020 and states that all changes will come into effect on Wednesday 13th May 2020. The information sets out key FAQs to inform and help prepare for these changes. See [FAQs] to read the latest Government information.

COVID-19 Testing for Parent Carers

Unpaid carers such as parent carers with disabled children have now been added to the list of essential workers and those prioritised for COVID-19 testing in England. There are various ways to get tested, and home testing is also available.

You can find out more on the [Gov.uk website].

EHCPs: Guidance on Temporary Legislative Changes Relating to Coronavirus

On Thursday 30th April 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance on temporary changes to education, health and care legislation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance which is for families, parent carer forums, SEND advisory services, local authorities, health commissioning bodies and schools etc. can be found [HERE].

The guidance includes temporary changes to timescales: “Where it is not reasonably practicable or is impractical to meet that time limit for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), the specific time limit (such as to issue a plan to someone eligible for one within 20 weeks of the initial request) in the regulations being amended will not apply. Instead, the local authority or other body to whom that time limit applies will have to complete the process as soon as reasonably practicable”.

The guidance also includes: “that a local authority must still consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment, must still secure all of the required advice and information in order to be able to issue a plan, and must have regard to the views and wishes of a child, the child’s parent or a young person when carrying out its SEND functions under the Children and Families Act 2014”.

Further on in the guidance, there is recognition of the ongoing importance of the voice of children, young people and their parent carers and it clearly states that: “co-production and effective communication remain key, both at the strategic level and in relation to individual cases. Parent carer forums have an important role, working with local authorities and health commissioning bodies, to gather and feed in parents’ views on what can realistically be provided to children and young people in their area when the usual ways of working are under such strain”. It also says that: Local authorities, health services and the other bodies involved in the processes relating to EHC needs assessments and plans should communicate regularly with the families of those children and young people with EHC plans, or who are being assessed for plans or who apply for an EHC needs assessment. Where the changes in the law affect what families experience, they need clarity as to: -

•what provision will be secured for each child and young person and the reason for any difference from what is specified in the EHC plan
•when decisions will be made as part of the various processes relating to EHC needs assessments and plans

The guidance is very clear that: -
•a local authority must still consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment or a re-assessment. Where the local authority decides to carry out an EHC needs assessment, it must still secure all of the required advice and information in order to be able to issue a plan, and the need to have regard to the voice of the child, young person and the parent carer remains in force.
•Reviews and re-assessments of EHC plans must still take place (although there can in some circumstances be flexibility over the timing of an annual review).
•There is no change to the complaints and rights of appeal of parents and young persons.
•There is no change to the appeals to the First-tier Tribunal.

Managing the Demands of Home Learning During the Lockdown

We have heard from some parent carers who have described the anxiety, stress and pressure they are experiencing over the amount of work their children are being given from some schools while they are learning at home. In response to the feedback we have received from parent carers, we have had conversations with the local authority who in turn have sent a communication out to all schools in Wiltshire.

The communication that went to schools on Monday 20th April raised this issue and said that “the WPCC is suggesting to parent carers that the priority is to manage their children’s needs, anxieties and wellbeing. They are recommending that a routine is important, and perhaps activities that support the child’s mental wellbeing may be more important than being overloaded by an expectation to complete home learning activities. The WPCC has described the benefits of participating in activities around the home which may be beneficial to helping to develop some independence skills for example.”.

Please remember that the WPCC is still available during these challenging times, and alongside the [COVID-19 information, advice, guidance and resources] the WPCC is updating on its website daily, and maintaining telephone and email contact with parent carers, we are doing all we can to try to help to reduce isolation, challenges and anxiety.

Food Help Due to Self-Isolation

If you are self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and you need help and do not have any family, friends or neighbours who can support you please let Wiltshire Council know.

There is help available for: -

  • deliveries of food and other essentials
  • loneliness and wellbeing


If you are self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Wiltshire Council can help.

You can request this help by calling the helpline on: 0300 003 4576 or via email at wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk. It's available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

Food parcels being delivered by Wiltshire Council through the wellbeing hub are emergency parcels to last people for three days while more sustainable solutions are found, such as a delivery by the voluntary sector. The council is charging for these parcels where appropriate. Please be assured that they will still be providing food parcels without charge for those that can show they are unable to afford them.

The charges are £20 to cover at least three days’ worth of food for one person, either meat or vegetarian, and up to £25 if the household has specialist dietary requirements such as gluten free.

All funds received for payment of these food parcels cover the cost of the food only, and no profit is being made from the charging for food parcels.

Online map to help people see what COVID-19 support is available near to them

There is an online map to help people see what COVID-19 support is available near to them.

Simply type in the town/village/city name or a postcode in the search box and the system will automatically take you to that location and will highlight the support available in that area, which will be marked by red stars. Clicking on the red stars will bring up information about the groups, including their contact details and a summary of the type of support and services they are providing.

This could be a useful resource for any families who are looking for local help. The link to the interactive map is: [HERE]

Government Online Tool to Support with Finding Help

The Gov.uk website has been updated to include “Find Help” which is a signposting tool to support people who may be struggling due to coronavirus. The site covers a range of circumstances and concerns, including feeling unsafe, going in to work, paying bills or being unemployed, getting food, having somewhere to live, and mental health and wellbeing. While the tool will not provide direct support from the government or organisations through this service, it aims to provide some relevant national information and advice - https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

Benefits Information – Coronavirus

The Department for Work and Pensions has a dedicated website with information regarding the coronavirus and benefits which it is updating daily: please [DWP website].

The website provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits. Please check this page regularly for updates on the arrangements the Department for Work and Pensions is making to support those who are affected by coronavirus. Currently on the website, there is information about changes to Statutory Sick Pay, changes to Jobcentre appointments, changes to health and disability-related benefits’ assessments, and making a new claim.

DWP Updates - 27th April 2020

Help if You are Looking for Work or Looking for Staff

From Monday 27th April, the DWP has launched new [JOBHELP] and [EMPLOYERHELP] websites. These offer labour market information for people looking for work now, and advice for employers to help recruit them.


Video Relay Service for Universal Credit

The Video Relay Service (VRS) has now been extended to people claiming Universal Credit. Over the coming months VRS will be further extended into all DWP services. VRS is already available for British Sign Language (BSL) people who claim DWP disability benefits as well as Access to Work.

VRS enables BSL people to contact DWP via a BSL interpreter. You simply use a video link accessed through your computer, smartphone or tablet. The interpreter will then speak to a DWP agent relaying the conversation by phone. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and you do not have to book the service in advance.

This means that you and the DWP agent can have a telephone conversation in real time.

[Find out more]


New Style Employment and Support Allowance online claims

You now apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance online, where you are not already claiming Universal Credit.

Making an application online instead of over the phone should streamline the process to allow greater access to claimants and speed up processing times.

People who are unable to use the new online service can continue to make an application over the phone and the normal reasonable adjustment process continues to apply for anyone who needs it, for example using Braille or large print communications.

For anyone who has applied for Universal Credit, or is already receiving Universal Credit, they should sign in to their Universal Credit account and use their online journal to inform their work coach or case manager about applying for New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

More information is on [GOV.UK]

UPDATE from DWP on Benefits Support - 22/04/2020
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has experienced a huge increase in claims and our phone lines have been extremely busy as a result. We have taken urgent action to boost capacity, by moving large numbers of existing staff to help our front line colleagues, and we’re recruiting more.

New claims to Universal Credit should be done [online] where possible. Customers do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and they shouldn’t attend the jobcentre.

People making new claims for Universal Credit no longer need to call DWP as part of the process. Instead, a bolstered team are calling claimants back if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim. This change has been in effect since 9th April 2020. It should free up phone lines for those unable to claim online.

All of this will mean our staff can make more calls, ensure claims are progressed as quickly as possible and get much needed support to those who need it.

Key websites
GOV.UK is the primary site for all the key information to support individuals, businesses and other organisations. Here is a link to the dedicated pages [GOV.UK: Coronavirus], which includes information on how to stay safe.

DWP’s employment and benefits support
The [Employment and benefits support] website includes the latest guidance and messages on sick pay, existing benefit claims, new claims to benefit, self-employment, housing and more.