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News from Paddock Wood Advice Centre – July 2020

Please be advised that Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre is now open as usual for appointments and drop-in clients. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 1.30pm and our contact details are.

Telephone          01892 838 619

Email:                  info@pwadvice.org

Website:              www.pwadvice.org

We continue to operate a telephone and email advice service for clients who are unable to attend our offices.

Excerpt from newsletter below:

Dear All
Welcome to our latest newsletter and the first of our current financial year. We start as usual with our statistics, however they are rather unusual due to the extraordinary start to 2020 we have experienced with the effects of Covid-19.
Since the start of lockdown on 23 March 2020:
• We have helped 324 individual clients
• We have had 1,007 contacts with these individuals
• Our dedicated volunteers gave 1,020 hours of their time, for which we are extremely grateful
• We have made 288 telephone calls and sent 304 emails to help clients
• We have generated £521,892.50 worth of additional income for our clients by helping them to access unclaimed welfare benefits
• We have helped clients to have £10,056.91 worth of debt written off.

Impact of Covid-19
Throughout the lockdown, our physical office has been closed but our wonderful team of volunteers have continued to provide advice, Monday to Friday by telephone and email.
The most common issue we have dealt with is Welfare Benefits, with many clients navigating the Welfare Benefit system for the first time in their lives. In quarter one, we saw double the number of clients about Universal Credit issues than we saw in the same period last year. We have continued to help clients to challenge incorrect decisions about disability benefits in the first-tier tribunal and helped twelve clients to win their appeals through detailed written submissions and representation ‘in person’ at telephone hearings. This is a 100% success rate.
The DWP recently reported a 40% decrease in new applications for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in April 2020 compared with the previous year. We have also observed a decline in new applications for all disability benefits, including PIP, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Attendance Allowance (AA). This reflects the difficulties many vulnerable people have with navigating telephone and online systems to demonstrate that they qualify for a benefit with a complex set of rules and requirements. We believe that maintaining our face to face advice service is of paramount importance during these difficult times and were delighted to successfully re-open our doors for face to face clients on Monday 13 July 2020.
As expected, the second most common issue has been Employment, which has made up 1 in 5 of our new cases. These have varied from enquiries about furlough, working rights, redundancy, and holiday pay. Employment issues will continue to be common as the furlough scheme changes and more and more businesses start to look at redundancy to cut costs.
What is clear is that we are yet to see the full impact of this unprecedented period and we anticipate an overwhelming demand for our services as measures introduced to alleviate financial pressure on people at the start of lockdown begin to be phased out. It is not surprising that housing and debt enquiries, both of which regularly feature in our top 3 issues, have fallen away over the last few months as people have not had to deal with evictions, bailiffs or benefit sanctions. Most of these measures are due to end over the next couple of months and we will be busier than ever.

Pembury Rocks

Pembury painted rock - rocks combine to make a tortoiseDid you paint any rocks during lockdown?  Do you still have them?

The Parish Council are considering a project to bring the stones together to create a memorial in the centre of the village.  If you are happy for them to be used in this project, please keep your stones and get in touch to let us know how many you have so we can see what we can create with them!

Please email us on clerk@pemburyparishcouncil.gov.uk or call on 01892-823193.

Revised Timetable for TWBC Local Plan

TWBC confirmed it has revised its timetable for its Local Plan. This follows a substantial response to the public consultation on a Draft Local Plan last autumn, with over 8,000 individual comments.  TWBC confirmed that the revised programme provides the necessary additional time to properly consider the contributions that a wide range of organisations and local people have taken the time and trouble to make before moving forward.

Therefore, TWBC has published an updated timetable for the next consultation stage of the Local Plan, which is now due to take place next March/April.

Full details are contained in the Council’s ‘Local Development Scheme, June 2020’, which is published online at www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/LDS.

The opportunity to make representations on the revised, final draft (‘Pre-Submission’) version of the Local Plan will be widely publicised in due course, while everyone who made comments at the Draft stage will be directly notified.

Tunbridge Wells Discretionary Grant Scheme now open

The new Tunbridge Wells Discretionary Grant Scheme has launched and is now open for applications at the following link: www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/discretionarygrants

Businesses should read the associated guidance carefully (at the same link), in order to assess their eligibility for the scheme.

The deadline for applications is 7 June 2020.

If there are any enquiries about the scheme, please email businesscovid19@tunbridgewells.gov.uk.

 

Tennis Courts in Lower Green Recreation Ground to re-open

Tennis ball

Following the recent government announcement, Pembury Parish Council will re-open the tennis courts in Lower Green Recreation Ground for personal use only with effect from Wednesday 13 May 2020.

Users of the tennis courts are asked to comply with current guidance on using the courts.  Full details of the guidance can be found on the Lawn Tennis Association website.

Before leaving home and after you return

Please do not use the tennis courts if you have symptoms of Coronavirus or anyone you live with has symptoms.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before leaving home to go to the court (or use an alcohol gel if washing hands is not possible).

Equipment

  • Take hand sanitizer with you
  • Take all your own equipment (do not share equipment such as rackets, grips,
    hats and towels)
  • Only take the minimum amount of equipment with you that you need to play
  • Clean and wipe down your equipment, including racquets and water bottles before and after use
  • Bring a full water bottle, and do not share food or drink with others
  • Bring your own tennis balls that are clearly marked (e.g. with your initials)
  • Ensure you take all your belongings with you at the end of the session and do not leave anything on court

Travelling to and from the Court

  • Arrive as close as possible to when you need to be there
  • Avoid touching court gates, fences, benches, etc. if you can
  • Allow others to leave before you enter the court – if you need to wait then do so away from the courts and clear of the gates
  • Ensure you leave the court before other players enter
  • Do not congregate after playing. No extra-curricular or social activity should take place

Court Limits

  • Maximum of two people per court (singles play only). Players can be from different households
  • The only exception to the above is where a group of four players are all from the same household in which case they can play doubles

Maintain Social Distancing

  • Stay at least two metres away from other players at all times (including during play, when taking breaks and before and after play)
  • Do not make physical contact with other players (such as shaking hands or high five)
  • Stay on your side of court and avoid changing ends, or agree to change ends at opposite sides of the net
  • Avoid chasing the ball down to another court if other players are using it

Equipment & Facilities

  • Use your own clearly marked tennis balls
  • Avoid using your hands to pick up tennis balls that aren’t yours – use your racquet/foot to hit/kick them to your opponent or return them to another court
  • Avoid using other equipment such as  net handles where possible

Hygiene

  • If you need to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or upper sleeve.  Please take your tissues home with you and dispose of carefully
  • Avoid touching your face