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  • Vicky Holmes

Changes to Key Services and Local Updates

Updated: 6 days ago

National lockdown

A national lockdown is now in effect (from 5 January) and are expected to last until at least mid- February. Information on how this effects services and support in Newcastle is available at www.newcastle.gov.uk/coronavirus.


CityLife Line still offering essential support across Newcastle

A support service that has provided assistance to Newcastle residents throughout the pandemic is on hand to help those during the current national lockdown.


To get support, please complete this online form or visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/welfare. Alternatively, call 0800 170 7001 and someone can complete the form on your behalf. The team works Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am – 3pm. Those requiring immediate support, will be contacted by telephone on the same day (except Sundays). For all other requests, you will be contacted within 36 hours.


Changes to Jobcentre Plus opening hours

To help keep customers and colleagues as safe as possible in the latest phase of the pandemic, the Department has decided jobcentre opening hours will be 10am to 2pm beginning on Monday 18 January 2021. This temporary change means we can continue providing safe, essential services for those who need to come into the jobcentre and who are unable to interact with us on the phone or digitally. The opening hours of our phone lines remain as they were. In addition, the Relay UK service and the Video relay service are both still available.


Anyone entering a jobcentre will be required to wear a face covering, unless they are in an exempt category. Please remind your audiences to follow the latest government guidance on meeting with others safely and lockdown restrictions and that if we need to make an appointment with a customer, this will be by the phone. We will leave a message in their journal before we call them.


European Union Settlement Scheme

Following Brexit, EU / EEA and Swiss nationals wanting to stay in the UK need to apply to the European Union Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. People needing a bit of help to apply can get free assistance from local organisations: https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/services/citizenship/eu-settlement-scheme. Government requires that people who receive a positive decision keep their records up to date themselves. Advice is that people contact (and this is not an exhaustive list) any landlord, their GP, the DWP (Universal Credit, PIP, ESA/JSA); HMRC (Tax Credits) and their local council (Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction).


Recycling centres remain open during lockdown

Newcastle City Council’s recycling centres are unaffected by the new national lockdown restrictions and will continue to open daily, in accordance with their winter opening hours. Measures to ensure safety and social distancing, and manage access – including an “odds and evens” system that since the summer has determined which days residents can visit – remain in place. To find out what you need to know before visiting see www.newcastle.gov.uk/hwrc.


Financial support announced to help business through lockdown restrictions

On 5 January, the Chancellor announced that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000. These grants formed the main part of financial measures worth £4.6bn to help struggling firms during the national lockdown restrictions. An estimated 600,000 properties are expected to benefit. The package also included a £594m discretionary fund for other businesses that might be affected. The funding comes on top of support for wet-led pubs and tier three restrictions during December, which the council will launch soon. Full details will be available at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport.


Newcastle placed in Tier 4 ‘stay at home’

As of midnight on Wednesday 30 December, Newcastle and the wider North East region were placed under Tier 4 ‘stay at home’ restrictions. For more information on what this means, please visit Newcastle City Council’s dedicated coronavirus webpage here


How Busy is Toon?

The How Busy is Toon website aims to show how easy it is to social distance in the city centre. The site show real-time information on the number of people on Northumberland Street and how busy the city centre car parks are, as well as highlighting what the Council, partners and shops are doing to keep everyone safe and providing helpful transport information. A new feature is live webcams of Northumberland Street and Grey Street, so people can have a look for themselves as they plan their trip and make their own decisions on whether it’s safe.


Recovery of outstanding Council Tax

Newcastle City Council have issued reminders to customers who had fallen behind with their Council Tax payments. Whilst a number of customers made contact to make payments or arrangements, there are a significant number who didn’t and remain in arrears. Therefore, from 4 November 2020, summons notices have been sent to those who are still in arrears. The summons notices will hopefully encourage customers to make contact to either pay or set up suitable arrangements and the Council will support those who are struggling financially to do this. Customers will also be asked to seek advice during these unprecedented times if they need help with claiming benefits or budgeting and debt management. Customers can contact the team on 0191 278 7878 (asking for Council Tax) or by completing our online form at www.newcastle.gov.uk/counciltax. Please note that customers may experience longer waiting times than usual.


Test and Trace Support Payment

Test and Trace Support Payments are part of a new legal duty for people to self-isolate, which came into force on 28 September 2020 to ensure that those on low incomes are able to self-isolate without worrying about their finances. The Government has asked local authorities to administer the payments. To be eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment, you must meet the following criteria:

  • have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because you’ve tested positive or are the close contact of a positive case

  • are employed or self-employed

  • are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result

  • are currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and / or Pension Credit

You will need to provide the following:

  • National Insurance number

  • a notification from NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate (this will include a unique ID number)

  • a recent bank statement

  • proof of employment or, if you are self-employed, evidence of self-assessment tax returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services which can’t be undertaken without social contact.

Newcastle residents should apply online at https://newcastle.gov.uk/TestandTraceSupportPayments.


Are you self-isolating? Are you finding it difficult?

Correctly self-isolating is the best way to keep our families, community and city safe. We know there are lots of things to think about if you are self-isolating; food, work, money, even who is going to walk your dog. Newcastle City Council have a welfare checklist to help you think about those questions. The Welfare and Wellbeing Team work from Monday to Saturday between 8am and 8pm and can be contacted by freephone number 0800 170 700, or by completing this form and the team will contact you within 36 hours.



Current working arrangements of teams within Newcastle City Council’s Active Inclusion Service

  • The Housing Advice Centre building remains closed for face-to-face advice until further notice and Newcastle City Council’s Housing Advice Centre staff continue to provide telephone and email advice.This is to help us all to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Please don’t attend the Housing Advice Centre in person as the building will be closed. Instead, please phone 0191 277 1712 or 0191 277 1716 or email housingadvicecentre@newcastle.gov.uk.

  • The Newcastle Gateway is being maintained and you can contact the Active Inclusion Newcastle Unit for support via email at gateway@newcastle.gov.uk

  • The Supporting Independence Scheme (SIS) is fully operational with all items available. For more information or guidance, email the team at gateway@newcastle.gov.uk

  • The FoodWorks catering outlets are all temporarily closed. Natures Landscapes reopened on 3 August 2020

  • Other Supported Employment staff, the Money Matters debt and budgeting team and the Welfare Rights team are only providing telephone and email advice until further notice. Their telephone lines for the public and professionals are open as normal

Food banks and free food services

For up-to-date information on food banks and other free food services in Newcastle, please check the Information NOW website at the following links:

The My Neighbourhood service on Newcastle City Council’s website is using the above information to produce maps of where to find free and low-cost food provision in your area. Please click here to find out more.


Changes to benefit and debt advice services due to coronavirus (COVID-19) Newcastle City Council’s website includes changes to how residents can contact advice services and benefit offices at Benefit advice services in Newcastle and benefit offices. The ‘coronavirus and benefits’ website information has been updated and consists of the following three website pages:


The latest version of our booklet ‘Where to get benefit and debt advice in Newcastle’ is now available on this webpage: www.newcastle.gov.uk/benefitcontacts It includes the latest changes to services due to coronavirus (COVID-19).


Previously advised service changes

  • Shelters face-to-face services are closed but the team can be contacted from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm, on 0344 515 1601 or via email at shelternortheast@shelter.org.uk. Residents can also send a text to 07919 046449 to get a call back

  • Newcastle Futures are still delivering their service to help residents to access key sector jobs now, as well as helping residents to prepare for when other employers are fully open for business. You can register for Newcastle Futures Tyne Online, their digital employment service, at www.tyneonline.co.uk, email info@newcastlefutures.co.uk or phone 07800 652 481. They are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TyneOnline/

  • Crisis Skylight face-to-face services and the Skylight centre remain closed, whilst they work on their re-entry plan. The Newcastle team have been working on a new online learning programme, accessible via their website at www.crisis.org.uk/newcastle. They also continue to offer support remotely for the foreseeable future and will continue to work directly with members by phone and online for those requiring individual and ongoing support. They welcome new member referrals for learning and / or support and are checking the enquiries.newcastle@crisis.org.uk inbox daily. Alternatively, you can leave a voicemail on their office phone number (0191 222 0622) and they will endeavour to respond to your query as soon as they can

  • The Moneywise Credit Union branch in Byker remains open for members and the public from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4.30pm, with social distancing measures in place to protect members and staff

  • The People’s Kitchen are serving takeaway hot food at the Alison Centre, Bath Lane from Monday to Friday between 7pm and 8.15pm, and are serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 11.15am. They are still happy to support food parcels via a referral if they are collected by a support worker, but can no longer do deliveries to the public. More information is available here

  • Action Foundation’s InterAction Drop-ins will still be open for face-to-face support for asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants. They run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10am to 2pm, at CastleGate on Melbourne Street (NE1 2JQ), and offer one-to-one support and information around accommodation, registering with a doctor, asylum and immigration issues etc. You can contact them for more information on 07826 266 630. Please note spaces will be limited so you may have to queue outside. If you have an appointment with one of the staff outside of the drop-in, please wait outside the front glass doors at your appointment time and they will come down to let you in

  • Citizens Advice Newcastle’s drop-in sessions at City Library remain closed until further notice. They continue to deliver their service via phone (0300 3309055), email (citycab@newcastlecab.org.uk) and webchat (www.citizensadvice.org.uk)

  • Joseph Cowen Healthcare Centre remains open from Monday to Thursday between 8am and 4pm, and on Fridays between 8am and 3pm. Please note that the centre is closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1pm. Most of the provision is offered at reception on a one-to-one basis, enabling control over how many people can enter the building to maintain social distancing and confidentiality

Newcastle City Council services impacted by second national lockdown

For the latest updates and service availability please visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/coronavirus.


EU withdrawal support for EEA nationals

Your Homes Newcastle's EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) support service is now open to any resident of Newcastle thanks to a successful bid for Home Office funding to deliver the service across the city. The team can provide free support to any EEA national (comprising EU citizens and people from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein) to ensure they have completed the EUSS application process by the deadline of 30 June 2021 and offers advice about what to do after being awarded Settled or Pre-settled Status. Email the team on euss@yhn.org.uk to find out more.


Council launches new service to help people into work

The Jobs@skillshub project, funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s COVID-19 Capacity Fund, will provide a job matching service for those looking for work and information on events, work experience, apprenticeships and training. Once registered, people will also receive information on vacancies and other opportunities, to help them move closer to work or training. The new service will complement existing services provided by the Skills Hub. Based at the City Library, the Skills Hub works with a range of partners, including Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service, and has supported hundreds of people into education, work or training. For more information, please click here.


Self-isolation enforcement and support

From 28 September 2020, people who are legally required to self-isolate will be fined if they breach the regulations. The penalty starts at £1,000 for a first offence but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences. These fines also apply to employers who refuse to allow staff the time off work to self-isolate. People on low incomes who are required to self-isolate may be entitled to a support payment of £500 if they are unable to work from home and have lost wages while self-isolating. You can find the full government statement on these changes here

Are you self isolating? Are you finding it difficult?

Correctly self-isolating is the best way to keep our families, community and city safe. We know there are lots of things to think about if you are self-isolating; food, work, money, even who is going to walk your dog. Newcastle City Council have a welfare checklist to help you think about those questions. Complete the online form and someone from the Welfare and Wellbeing Team will phone you back to help you think about all the things you need when self-isolating. The Welfare and Wellbeing Team work from Monday to Saturday during the hours of 8am to 8pm. For immediate support, please phone 0191 277 8000 for a same day discussion. Otherwise, you can complete this form and they will contact you within 36 hours.


Health and wellbeing

Newcastle City Council have a website page with advice on how to look after yourself and your family during this time, particularly when staying at home, given that some people understandably find social distancing or self-isolation very difficult. At this time more than ever, emotional and mental wellbeing should be considered. The Coronavirus: Looking after yourself website page includes some helpful information and advice on how to do this, much of this from the Mental Health Foundation website


Moneywise Credit Union videos

Moneywise Credit Union have developed a series of short videos to promote their credit union and the services offered. The videos can be accessed here.

Emergency Central Heating Offer

The Emergency Central Heating Offer (ECHO) scheme reopens on 7 September 2020. ECHO can offer replacement central heating boilers to residents if the following applies:

· they are a home owner;

  • they have a gas boiler which is not working and beyond economical repair;

  • they receive an eligible benefit www.gov.uk/energy-company-obligation or have a household income less than £26,000 per year


Please contact Energy Services for more information by email at energy@newcastle.gov.uk.


Citizens Advice ‘Help to Claim’ service

Citizen's Advice helps people find a way forward. Help to Claim is a dedicated Service from Citizen's Advice. It's free, independent, confidential and impartial. Call us for free: 0800 144 8 444 - advisers are available 8am - 6pm Monday - Friday. Chat to our trained advisers online: citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim - Chat is usually available 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday about your Universal Credit application process. If no advisers are available, the chat box will not appear. Our Help to Claim service is available face-to-face in local Citizen's Advice offices, and in other locations like libraries and job centres. Find the details of of your nearest face to face to service on our website: citizensadvice.org.uk/help to claim.


In addition to Citizens Advice’s Universal Credit ‘Help to Claim’ service (phone 0800 1448 444) and other services providing support for residents with their Universal Credit claims (e.g. advice services included on www.newcastle.gov.uk/benefitcontacts), Newcastle City Council is providing a reduced service to support residents to make new Universal Credit claims online. This is only for residents who have IT skills and internet access, and who can be guided through the process using their IT equipment at home. Residents who already have a Universal Credit claim can also be given support to access their online accounts and report any changes, again using their own IT equipment at home. They must have their login details (for data protection purposes) and will be guided on how to log into their account and then guided on the changes they need to make. To access this support, phone Elaine on 07970 632 851 (Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 4.30pm)


West end COVID-19 testing site

A new centre to provide access to COVID-19 tests is being opened in Newcastle’s west end. The NHS Test and Trace Centre on the former Newcastle General Hospital site will offer residents tests for coronavirus by appointment. As part of a national network, the centre will be linked to the national test booking system and will feed results into the NHS Test and Trace system to help control the spread of the virus. The centre has been built over the last few days and began testing on 21 August 2020. For more information, please click here<https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/citylife-news/community/new-covid-testing-facility-opens-newcastle>.


Face coverings must be worn by library visitors 

As of 31 July 2020, visitors to Newcastle’s City Library are being asked to wear a face covering. The City Library will be brought in line with shops and supermarkets in England by making the wearing of a face covering compulsory for the majority of people. Only people with certain medical conditions and children under the age of 11 years old will be exempt from the new rule. It is advised that all children younger than three years old should not wear face coverings at all.

Northumbrian Water

Northumbrian Water are offering payment breaks for people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), in addition to their usual schemes. The missed payments during the break period will be collected in future payments, so it isn’t suitable for residents who will be unable to make up their payments in future months. More information is available here


Public transport

If you have a disability or a medical condition that means that you are exempt from wearing a face covering on public transport, you may find it useful to download a Journey Assistance Card. You can print this card at home, or save it to your mobile phone. The Journey Assistance Card can be shown to staff when you are travelling on public transport in north east England. More information is available here.

Nexus continue to announce changes to local public transport, with reduced bus and metro services. More information is available here.






Active Inclusion Newcastle information update: 18 January 2021

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