Leading councillors are gearing up to discuss a Covid-19 report which includes details of lost revenue and temporary mortuaries in the county.
A “virtual” on-line meeting of West Sussex County Councils’ cabinet next Wednesday (April 22) will consider, after the future of several small schools, local authority staff information and progress on the county’s response to the pandemic.
The report from council officers, already available, talks about the current and long-term effects of how Covid-19 is affecting West Sussex’s residents, businesses, and particularly vulnerable people including children in care, the chronically ill, and the elderly.
According to the report, County Hall has been trying to procure eight storage units for use as temporary mortuaries.
Staff said they’re pressing the government to confirm that the units will be available, so that work to convert them into storage spaces will be complete ahead of the expected peak in deaths involving Covid-19 infections.
The council added that it is considering how to give additional help to people needing bereavement support.
An additional testing centre is to be established at Bognor Hospital, in addition to the site already working in a long-term car-park at Gatwick Airport.
The report also said Trading Standards staff have received complaints about businesses profiteering from the situation, by hiking prices on essential products.
Officers also said complaints had arrived about local businesses wrongly describing the performance of face masks being sold, and was warning residents through the media to beware of any scams.
The report also breaks down economic pressures, including higher prices for care homes, more residents requiring support after leaving hospital, extra numbers of children needing county council care as families are affected by lockdown, and cashflow issues caused by late council tax and rates payments.
Particularly severe is the impact caused by the withdrawal of many services by Gatwick Airport, where staff warned of potential effects to around 200,000 jobs, and around 45,000 local businesses.
It stated that the tourism sector, with an estimated worth of £2.05 billion and supporting 37,000 jobs in West Sussex alone, is currently ‘shut down’.
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