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Inverness councillor baffled by lack of detail when asked to turn off coronavirus spending tap

By Andrew Dixon

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Councillor Emma Roddick.
Councillor Emma Roddick.

A bid to end childcare provision for key workers and all other additional services provided in response to the coronavirus pandemic by Highland Council has been delayed.

Council officials asked councillors to agree today to stop the spending at the end of July, unless directly funded by the government.

But an amendment to the council’s budget report, backed by Inverness councillor Emma Roddick, has been successful in securing a review of the services which were proposed to be cut.

This will allow councillors to look at these services, which include the Highland Covid-19 Support Helpline, in more detail before making a decision.

Cllr Roddick said little detail was provided on specifically which services they were asked to cut and how much was being spent on each service.

She said the council’s dedicated helpline was still acting as a lifeline for many vulnerable people across the Highlands.

“Even in the last week, my community support group has received referrals directly from the council’s Covid-19 helpline, ranging from families struggling to feed their children, to elderly, disabled or other high-risk people who are still isolating looking for a volunteer to go on their behalf to the shops, the bank, the chemist or the post office," she said.

“As the full impact of lockdown is felt and more businesses close, people who have not previously interacted with welfare support will struggle to navigate its systems. The helpline will continue to be, as this council put it, a lifeline service.

“It is baffling to me that we can be asked to agree to cease a group of services without being told what they are. I’m glad we will now have the opportunity to consider fully the implications of ending each Covid-19 response service, rather than taking a blanket approach without all the necessary information.”

Related article: Key workers could have to fork out for childcare

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