Citizens Advice

Help with long-term Covid

Over a million people in the UK are suffering from Long Covid, the accepted term for Coronavirus that lasts more than four weeks.  And, sad to say, more than 70,000 people in this country have had Covid symptoms – fatigue, breathlessness, numbness, pain or partial hearing loss – for over a year.

If you are one of those affected, you should know that PIP (personal independence payments) may be available. PIP is financial support for those who have an illness, disability or mental health condition, making it hard for them to do everyday tasks or get around. Income, savings and employment status don’t affect your PIP eligibility, and PIP can supplement any other benefits you might be receiving. To apply, you need to be aged between 16 and your state pension age, and you need to have had these health problems for at least three months and expect them to continue. For help with applying for PIP, contact Citizens Advice Adviceline on 0808 278 7907 (for Oxfordshire South and Vale). There is more information about PIP at


Precautions for public events

The following is a message from the District Council containing advice for those arranging public events:

Please see attached a letter from the Director of Public Health, Ansaf Azhar about Covid19 measures for public events taking place in your parish/town.  I also attach the checklist for public events during the pandemic, as referred to in Mr Azhar’s letter that we would ask you to retain for your own events and share with any other organisers of public events in your town/parishes.

The checklist and measures for public events have been developed collaboratively by officers at district and county levels.

We appreciate your continued cooperation and support in helping implement measures to keep all our residents as safe as possible.

Kind regards


Mark Stone

Chief Executive of South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council

Letter to Town and Parish councils 5.10.2020

SAG CHAIR COVID Checklist September V1.1 (003)

…and another update from the District Council!

Covid-19 advice & support for businesses

Here’s a round-up of some Covid-19 advice, guidance and support for businesses.  There is information in here for all kinds of businesses big and small in your towns and parishes, from community shops and cafes to small businesses people run from their own homes.
Please help us to spread these messages and signpost your businesses to our webpages linked in each of the articles below.
Advice for businesses on new regulations
We are working with other local authorities to help local businesses get up to speed with the new regulations brought in recently to help curb the pandemic.
We’re helping businesses understand their responsibilities around the new “rule of six” regulations, including:
  • food and drink businesses cannot take bookings for a table of more than six people (there are exceptions to this for example where the group is all from one household)
  • they must not allow groups of more than six into their premises, except where one of the exceptions applies
  • they must not allow people to mingle between groups where this would make a group larger than six.
Restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, social clubs and other similar businesses must now be closed (i.e. no customers on the premises) between 10pm and 5am. There are also new rules on gathering data as part of Test and Trace and we’re encouraging all businesses to use and promote the NHS Test and Trace app – more on that later in the update.
There are more details including information on the exceptions to the rules on the councils’ licensing page on our websites (South / Vale)
We’re advising all taxi drivers that they should wear face coverings and regulations now state that passengers must wear face coverings. Taxi drivers should remind customers of this at the time of booking.
If a passenger is not wearing a face covering, then drivers can refuse to carry them, taking into account any mitigating circumstances such as any medical condition which may prevent the person from wearing a face covering. Here are some examples of reasons why some people cannot wear face coverings.
You can find more information on Covid-19 rules for taxis and private hire vehicles on our South and Valewebsites
New NHS Covid-19 app
The New NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 app was launched last week and we would urge you and all your friends and families to download it onto your mobile phones.
The app is the fastest way to see if you are at risk from coronavirus. The quicker you know, the faster you can alert and protect your loved ones.
It has a venue ‘check-in’ feature – where you scan a QR code on display at any places you visit like pubs and restaurants. This provides you with a digital diary and can send you alerts if you have visited a venue where you may have come into contact with coronavirus. It won’t however tell you the name of the venue.
You must be over 16 to have the app, live in England or Wales and own a smartphone that has Bluetooth. The app will be used alongside traditional contact tracing.
Here’s a video explaining more – you can also head over to the NHS website for more info.
Winter Support Packages
Last week the government announced new measures to support businesses over the coming months as a result of the impact of Covid-19, and we’re making sure businesses in South and Vale are aware of what help is available to them and we’ve updated our Business Support website with more information. Here’s a quick summary of the headlines:
  • The Furlough Scheme will end. In its place and from the 1 November, the Job Support Scheme will protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19.
  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme extension will support viable traders who are facing reduced demand over the winter months, covering 20 per cent of average monthly trading profits via a government grant.
  • More than one million businesses that have borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be offered the choice of more time and greater flexibility for their repayments.
  • Lenders can offer Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme borrowers more time to make their repayments where needed.
  • The application deadline for all coronavirus loan schemes – including the future fund – has been extended to 30 November.
  • Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March next year. They will have the option of splitting it into smaller, interest free payments over the course of 11 months. Self-assessed income taxpayers can also now extend their outstanding tax bill over 12 months from January.
  • The Government has extended the 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors to the end of March next year.
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils
01235 422400

Citizens Advice – Press Release

Job redundancy: check your rights and talk to Citizens Advice

One of the most serious outcomes of the current pandemic problem is that thousands of people in the UK are losing their jobs. If you are one of these people, and are made redundant or offered voluntary redundancy, it is important that you thoroughly understand your rights and options.

The first thing to do if you are at risk of redundancy is to look at your contract of employment, which will spell out your basic rights. Make sure that your company abides by these conditions. Also, consider other sources of help such as your union if you belong to one. Bear in mind that if you have been in the job for less than two years you do not have as much job protection, but if for more than two years, your employer has to follow certain procedures, e.g. find you another job in the company if possible.

You can’t be made redundant in an unfair way or for discriminatory reasons. The reason must be a genuine one, i.e. the job you do or the skills you have are no longer needed, or the employer can’t afford you, or the business is failing. With technology advancing, sometimes fewer people are needed to do a given job.

You might be entitled to receive redundancy pay, which increases with length of service and has two elements – statutory and contractual. Statutory pay (not paid to those who have less than two years’ service) is the minimum that the law says you are entitled to, and is based on your age, weekly pay and the number of years you have worked in the job. Contractual redundancy pay is the additional amount to which your contract may entitle you. If you have been furloughed, the law says that your redundancy pay must be worked out according to your usual wages, not the 80% furlough figure. Bear in mind that if your employer offers you a suitable alternative job and you refuse to take it without good reasons, they can refuse to give you redundancy pay. You can check that your redundancy pay is fair by using the calculator at

You are also entitled to a paid notice period or pay in lieu of notice, and the employer should give you paid time off for attending job interviews.

All the implications of redundancy are helpfully described on the Citizens Advice website at  The website also gives advice about claiming benefits or dealing with your debts if you need this. You can talk to an adviser on our Adviceline, 0300 330 9042. Visit to find your local Citizens Advice office.


Resilience plan update

Message from Cllr Simon Howell, VWHDC

It has been some time since I have sent out an update, thankfully this has been due to things calming down.

I am pleased to attach a “Thank you” note from David Johnston MP, I would be grateful if you can pass this on to all in the support network that have been helping over the last >100 days.

David Johnston letter

With lockdown being eased across the country, we should stay vigilant. A lot of work is now being put into how to deal with any isolated outbreaks or deal with any “second wave”.

Play Parks

People are urged to not use play areas until they have passed safety checks and have signs to say they are safe to use again – please do not enter any play areas which are closed. 

Important information about staying safe in our play areas

Once a play area is open, visitors will be urged to stay safe by following a few simple instructions which are being introduced to reduce the risk of people transmitting COVID-19.

People are asked to:

  • wash or sanitise their hands before entering the play area and then again after they leave;
  • come back at a quieter time, if the play area is busy;
  • follow social distancing.

It is also advised that only one adult per child is in the play area at a time

Leisure centres update

As things stand, indoor gyms and swimming pools must remain closed and we are still waiting for the government to confirm the timetable for them to reopen.  In the meantime, we are continuing to work on potential reopening plans to ensure we are ready once we’ve been given the go-ahead.

New signage

Over the coming days we will be placing new signs around our public toilets to remind people to maintain social distancing and to wash their hands.  Our ‘Stay Safe, Give Space’ message will also be stencilled at key locations in our car parks, parks and mobile home parks.

As ever, any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Best wishes, and stay safe


Cllr Simon Howell

Watchfield and Shrivenham Ward

Vale of White Horse District Council



Play areas to begin re-opening

Message from District Council

Released on July 3, 2020

Play areas in the Vale of White Horse managed by the district council will begin to re-open from Monday 6 July.

Vale of White Horse District Council will carry out a phased re-opening – this means play areas will only re-open once safety checks have been carried out and officers are happy they are safe for people to use.

The first play area to re-open will be at Abbey Meadow in Abingdon, followed by others across the town.  The council will then check play areas in Wantage and Faringdon later in the week.

The sites have been closed and not used for a few months, so the district council wants to ensure everything is safe before opening again, so please bear with us.

People are urged to not use play areas until they have passed safety checks and have signs to say they are safe to use again – please do not enter any play areas which are closed. 

Important information about staying safe in our play areas

Once a play area is open, visitors will be urged to stay safe by following a few simple instructions which are being introduced to reduce the risk of people transmitting COVID-19.

People are asked to:

  • wash or sanitise their hands before entering the play area and then again after they leave;
  • come back at a quieter time, if the play area is busy;
  • follow social distancing.

The council is also asking that only one adult per child is in the play area at a time.

Cllr Jenny Hannaby, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m delighted that we can re-open our play areas again and I know many young children and their parents will have been looking forward to this moment.

“As a council we are responsible for the play areas we own and will carry out cleaning to help reduce the potential risk of the virus to visitors.  However, it would be impossible to clean every piece of equipment after each time a child touches it.

“We are therefore asking parents and their children to follow some very simple instructions to avoid transmitting the virus.  It is particularly important that everyone washes their hands before entering the play area and then again as soon as they leave.  This is the best way for people to stay safe and protect others while enjoying themselves.”

If anyone notices any issues with a Vale play area they are asked to report it by calling 01235 422404 or by emailing

To report anti-social behaviour – call 101.


Citizens Advice can help you through financial difficulties


If you are facing financial problems in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Citizens Advice can help find a way forward.


Citizens Advice research has revealed that currently over 13 million people are unable to pay, or expect to be unable to pay, at least one of their household bills. These bills are higher than usual in any case because the population is spending more time at home during the lockdown. For 11 million of these people, a missed bill could have drastic consequences: eviction, the bailiffs, or disconnection.


It is vital that you do not give way to despair, feel isolated with your problems and consider that you have to solve them all by yourself. For instance, Citizens Advice can help maximise your income with a benefit check if your working hours have dropped or if you are made redundant. We can help you decide on the best way to manage your debts in your individual situation. Get in touch with us by telephone on Adviceline (0300 330 9042). There is also a lot of useful information on our website where you can also chat online.


Coronavirus scams – how to protect yourself

The following is some advice from Neighbourhood Alert

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.

How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:

There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:

1 – Watch out for scam messages
Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS):

2 – Shopping online
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 – Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support
Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at or by calling 0300 123 2040.


Stanford Recycling Centre is open

The recycling centre at Stanford-in-the-Vale has reopened, with revised opening times and access restrictions.  More details here