CORONAVIRUS - LATEST UPDATES

For the latest news about the coronavirus pandemic, including important information on local health advice, available services and more, please follow the link.

For the latest update, click here

Trading standards teams investigate 100 coronavirus complaints, and grants to businesses pass £1.5m

Published: Tuesday, 7th April 2020

Trading standards teams have responded to more than 100 public complaints over business compliance with coronavirus legislation, and have said the vast majority of premises are acting responsibly.

Trading standards teams have responded to more than 100 public complaints over business compliance with coronavirus legislation, and have confirmed that the vast majority of premises are acting responsibly through the pandemic.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council teams have visited 92 premises since the legislation was brought in on 26 March, with 28 of those businesses receiving advice from environmental health officers. In that time, council teams have received a total of 105 complaints and gone on to serve five prohibition notices. A total of 70 per cent of complaints were received during the first week of increased ‘stay home, save lives’ guidance, with the majority of issues related to social distancing. The teams are now carrying out reactive patrols, as compliance rates are currently very high.

Meanwhile, the council has accelerated the number of grants it is giving out to small businesses, with more than £1.5m issued in 48 hours, as the authority works towards handing out around £5m a day.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “It is really pleasing to see so many businesses taking such a responsible approach in complying with the legislation and staying closed. The legislation is there to protect employees and the public as we all take necessary precautions to stop the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Each and every one of us needs to play our part in ‘staying home and saving lives’ through the pandemic so our thanks go to those who have raised issues with us.

“Trading standards and environmental health teams have been making visits and providing support to businesses, as well as responding to complaints. Significant numbers of the complaints are multiple complaints about the same businesses, but when our teams have gone on to visit, the premises have been compliant. Teams are now moving from proactive patrols to reactive responses, and in conjunction with the police, will look at proactive investigative enforcement at a very small number of pubs which appear to be compliant, but for which the intelligence suggests otherwise. 

“We know this is a really testing time for businesses, that is why we are working hard to administer grant support to those companies that are eligible to receive it. We have now issued £1.5m in funding to small businesses and those operating in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, from a £57m grant fund we have received from government specifically to provide a boost to the city during the pandemic.

“I am determined that we will issue this funding as quickly as possible to those businesses that need it the most. Our teams are working hard to do this, and we expect to distribute up to £5m a day, moving forward.”

The council wrote out to 4,674 businesses across the city last week to advise them of the grant scheme, and has so far received around 2,400 completed forms. The application form and full details on the eligibility criteria can be found at www.stoke.gov.uk/businessratesgrants.

The city council has also been working with transport providers in the city to look at maintaining essential travel routes across Stoke-on-Trent. Cllr Brown added: “To help sustain local bus operators and protect public transport options for essential travel and key workers, we have committed to pay bus operators what they might have claimed from the council under the concessionary fares scheme until July.  This is extra to any central government support. We are working with the bus companies on protecting the most important routes.”

A dedicated team is in place to support businesses of any size with business related queries, due to Covid-19. They can support with enquiries about property related matters, details about business loans or grants as well as information for the self-employed.  They can be contacted on 01782 236878 or by e-mail at: business.growth@stoke.gov.uk.

A summary of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which passed into law on 26 March is available here

For more information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit Public Health England: and the NHS

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.