The government has announced a discretionary fund aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. We've been working hard to launch the scheme and are pleased to say applications are now live.
Roadmap for reopening of retail businesses Car showrooms will reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the government’s five tests are met and they follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines.
Businesses will only be able to open once they've completed a risk assessment and are confident they're managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become Covid-19 secure, in line with the current health and safety legislation. We'll give more details once the government has announced further guidance.
Parking charges and enforcement From 1 June 2020, we will continue to lift parking charges which apply to all council owned car parks and we've made some changes to our parking bays and enforcement activities.
Antibody tests As part of a new antibody testing programme, antibody tests will be available shortly to NHS and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus.
Following the recent updates from government on guidelines about spending time outside and exercising we have updated our parks service pages. Also we have the latest e-luton update on coronaviirus guidance.
We told over 32,000 residents today about our upcoming emergency budget. We also asked for as many signatures as possible on a vital petition to government, asking for crisis fund in order to prevent essential services to the most vulnerable people in the town from being cut.
Petition to government Our community is calling on the government to provide crisis funding for Luton Council. This will stop essential services for the most vulnerable people in our town being drastically cut or closed from as early as July 2020.
Bury Park has a number of shops which remain open during this time because they provide essential services to residents – these include grocery and food shops. The area has become more congested as people are queuing outside the shops whilst keeping to the social distancing rules. This makes it difficult for other people to pass safely.
In order to keep everyone safe, our Highways team have closed some of the parking and loading bays and ramped the kerbs to allow pedestrians to pass safely while observing social distancing.
Updated lockdown and social distancing guidance The Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the country this evening (Sunday 10 May). He set out new government guidance saying everyone must:
stay at home as much as possible
work from home if you can
limit contact with other people
keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
wash your hands regularly
self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
This week, we've emailed 32,000 Luton residents with the latest coronavirus updates and today we emailed 4,000 Luton businesses with information on the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS), bounce back loans, grants, tip up fund and more.
If you're not already subscribed to our digital newsletters, opt in now for the latest local news and updates.
We're facing a devastating projected shortfall of £49m in our finances this year as a result of the Covid-19 emergency.
Plans are underway to prepare an emergency budget in the summer where councillors will be forced to agree to extremely difficult cuts to key services unless the council’s desperate plea to the government for immediate cash is successful.
The government has announced a discretionary fund aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs and we will update as soon as we have guidance from government on how this will be administered.
Community Led Local Development (CLLD) small grants funding changes
In line with government’s announcements, the CLLD small grants programme will now not run as previously scheduled.
Luton has a range of local parks and greenspaces that provide opportunities to get out into the open air for daily exercise and we encourage people to use their local open space to do this. This is in line with government guidelines of avoiding non-essential travel.
You must however follow government guidelines on social distancing - there should not be groups of more than 2 people unless they come from the same household, and people must keep more than 2 metres away from each other.
Luton and Dunstable (L&D) hospital – update for family members of patients
We know that this is a distressing time for families of loved ones who are admitted to hospital, and unable to visit because of current restrictions.
L&D hospital have set up a dedicated inpatient next of kin helpline for family members who want to check up on their loved ones – please nominate one family member to call 01582 718884 between 8am and 6pm.
Our waste and recycling team has been working hard to keep services running during Covid-19 and its impact on staffing and we’re happy to announce that we can start collecting garden waste again from Tuesday 5 May 2020.
Sarah Hall, Service Director for Public Protection has taken part in the latest series of interviews for our community on Inspire FM. She thanks businesses that remain open to provide essential goods to residents for doing so safely. There’s information on which businesses should be still open and advice on how businesses can keep things safe for customers and staff.
Supermarkets and pharmacies support Covid-19 messaging campaign
The government’s 'stay at home' message is now being promoted in supermarkets and pharmacies in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Many thanks to our passenger transport team who supported this effort by delivering them to locations across Luton.
Appeal for information after 'unbelievably reckless' disorder during lockdown
Bedfordshire Police has urged people to come forward with information after a disorder involving more than a dozen people last weekend.
Councillor Hazel Simmons has said it is extremely disheartening to see such behaviour whilst the majority of people in Luton are playing their part in the fight against coronavirus by following the rules.
Latest government update suggests that currently there is insufficient evidence to establish a link between use of ibuprofen and susceptibility to contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) or the worsening of its symptoms.
If you have to drive to your workplace because of the impact of Covid-19, your insurance policy will still be valid. You do not need to contact your insurer to update your documents or extend your cover.
If you work in one of the critical sectors listed by the government and you need to use your own car to drive to different locations for work purposes because of the impact of Covid-19, your cover will not be affected. You do not need to contact your insurer to update your documents or extend your cover.
Not everyone that needs to self-isolate will be able to arrange help with essential or urgent supplies through family or friends. If that includes you, find support from local groups and organisations here.
A full list of financial support for business has been published by the government. Find out everything that is on offer as well as how to apply for the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants.
To help stop the spread of the virus and to keep our bin crews safe, we're asking people to please wipe down the handles of bins before putting them out and taking them back inside. We also want to remind people how to store personal waste including used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths.
Financial support is available to help families on certain benefits to meet the costs of funeral expenses such as coffins and funeral directors. In response to the coronavirus outbreak the government has announced an increase of the financial support available from £700 to £1,000.
Schools are open during the Easter period, including bank holidays, for children of critical workers and vulnerable children who do not have alternative arrangements.
Parents have been informed of arrangements by their children’s schools. If you need to access a school place during this time, details of how to do this are available on individual school’s websites.
Online educational resources
Today the Department for Education (DfE) has released details of free online educational resources for schools and parents providing a wide range of support for pupils of all ages including English, maths, science, PE, wellbeing and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to help children to learn at home.
Thank you to our volunteers
We now have more than 400 volunteers signed up to help the most vulnerable people in our town! A HUGE thanks to you all.
Due the amazing response, we've paused recruitment. Those who applied may not hear from us for a few days – but bear with us and we'll be in touch. There will be plenty to do in the coming weeks and we really do appreciate your interest.
e-Luton coronavirus update
Messages in this update include council tax reduction, domestic abuse support, funerals, waste collections, coronavirus scams and webinar Q&A.
Residents urged to stay home as pandemic set to hit Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire Police has issued a joint statement with partners across the country, including Luton Council, about the expected increase in local coronavirus cases and announced they will be stepping up patrols to ensure people are sticking to the national guidelines.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
CBILS is delivered through a range of over 40 accredited lenders and offers attractive terms for both:
businesses applying for new facilities
It has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. This significantly increases the number of businesses eligible for the scheme.
Unfortunately the car park at Inspire Sports Village is to close indefinitely from tomorrow. Active Luton and the council have attempted to keep the car park open to promote physical activity.
However due to reduced capacity and in an attempt to prevent unessential travel, we have taken the decision to close the car park until the lock down is lifted and the centre can reopen.
Stopsley Common can still be accessed via St Thomas’s Road but we would again like to stress the governments recommendation around non-essential travel.
Digital coronavirus updates
Whether you're a Luton resident or a local business owner, we're sending regular email updates tailored to your needs. Read the latest updates sent yesterday and sign up to one or more of our digital newsletters using the green button below.
Reminder: Luton Tidy Tips closed until further notice
Just a reminder that Luton’s household waste and recycling centres (Tidy Tips) are closed until further notice. The safety of customers and staff is very important.
Much of the waste that goes through the Tidy Tips is bulky waste (large items such as furniture, wood and metals) and garden waste. You should hold onto these items until the sites reopen. Do not put any electrical items in any of your bins at home.
Luton schools are working together to ensure the education and care of critical key workers’ children and vulnerable children can continue during the two-week Easter break including bank holidays. More details to follow.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG)
Businesses in England in receipt of the expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) and with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible.
Councillor Aslam Khan has been speaking to ITV Anglia (at a safe distance) in Bury Park, delivering vital public health reminders for the community with Bedfordshire Police. You can watch the report tomorrow evening (April 2) on the evening news bulletin.
We've already lifted parking charges which apply to all council owned car parks and on-street parking bays. Now we've added more information about the activities we will and won't be carrying out duting the coronavirus crisis.
Luton Registration office is closed to until further notice for all services other than death registration appointments.
Please email your name and contact telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. An officer will contact you to arrange a telephone appointment. If you're unable to email your details please contact 0300 790 0341.
Care of the deceased and funeral attendance Latest advice for the bereaved and those whose work brings them into contact with a deceased person who had displayed Coronavirus symptoms.
The government has launched a national voucher scheme to ensure children who are eligible for free school meals will continue to access meals whilst they stay at home. We're currently reviewing the government guidance and more details will follow.
Are you, or someone you know, at risk from domestic abuse?
For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, help and support is available.
The government has issued guidance for landlords and tenants in the light of the Coronavirus outbreak, relating to health & safety obligations and changes to the law relating to possession proceedings.
Thank you for working with us during this difficult period. We've put together a summary of the changes we've had to make to the services delivered by the Housing Service to protect staff, tenants and comply with the government’s directives.
Guidance for individuals supporting friends and family in isolation
The government has released guidance for individuals supporting family and friends who are self-isolating. Under the government’s stay home policy, providing care or support to vulnerable friends and family is one of the four reasons to leave the home.
The guidance outlines how you can do this safely, by minimising the time spent in a vulnerable person’s home and maintaining a two metre distance from people outside of their own household.
Thank you to local shop owners helping to keep our communities safe
We’d like to say a special thank you to the local shop owners and businesses that are permitted to remain open but have put control measures in place.
You've made the health, safety and wellbeing of your customers and employees a priority by ensuring social distancing and careful hygiene practices throughout your stores.
These actions will help to keep our communities safe and particularly protect our vulnerable people.
Business advice More details on the latest government measures including the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will support those who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19), information for food businesses and for businesses that trade internationally.
Government announcement - support for self employed workers
Self employed workers can apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus, the chancellor has announced.
The money - up to a maximum of £2,500 a month - will be paid in a single lump sum, but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest.
More details to follow as they're released.
Council to provide vehicles to assist NHS
Our Passenger Transport team has offered to provide our Bedfordshire NHS health partners assistance by transporting patients across Luton, the rest of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
The support offered is to mitigate the risk posed to patients being unable to travel to critical appointments (such as cancer, renal and potentially patient discharges).
Government launches Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.
To keep face to face contact to a minimum, services will be replaced with telephone contact as much as possible. Please help us to help the most vulnerable in our town by searching our coronavirus help page before making a call
In some cases, customers will be asked to email their requests in or provided with a scheduled telephone appointment where previously a face to face appointment would have been made.
Customers are no longer required to present documents in person but can either upload or send these by post.
To manage reduced staff levels will be temporarily reduce the operating hours of the contact centre from 8am to 6pm to 9am to 5pm. This will be reviewed in 4 weeks or sooner if staffing levels permit.
We have closed a number of public buildings in line with government advice. This means outreach services at Farley Hill and Lewsey Community Centres, Futures House and Luton Job Centre Plus are no longer running. In the event that government guidance changes to permit the opening of these sites, we will review our decision provided there are sufficient staff in place.
Revenues and benefits
Enforcement Agent visits for council tax business rates and BID levy will be replaced by telephone calls until the end of June.
Council tax and business rates inspections will be put on hold until the end of June.
Telephone verification will be attempted where possible.
The Council has decided not to summons council tax business rates and BID levy payers for late payment until the end of June.
The requirement to see original documentation for Housing benefit has been relaxed until the end of June. Original documentation can be uploaded and sent digitally via our website or posted.
Schools update Due to parent and carers following the government instruction to stay at home, Luton schools are now caring for lower numbers of children. Our staff will be keeping in touch with the majority of our vulnerable children if they're not attending school.
We anticipate the national voucher scheme for free school meals will be launched next week. In the meantime schools will continue to support families with supermarkets vouchers and/or providing school meals or packed lunches.
The coronavirus situation is unfortunately an opportunity for criminals to exploit those with fears about COVID-19 and prey on those who are:
isolated from family and friends
We're asking you to remain vigilant and take extra care during these difficult times by reading and following the advice given on this page:
With the current closure of schools there may be unavoidable delays to progressing in-year applications for school places. Late applications for children starting school or moving to a secondary or junior school in September may also be affected.
We're monitoring government guidance and currently considering the possible impact of the coronavirus on school appeals.
Give help or get help We've added more information on trusted local charities and groups that are offering help to those in need.
If you're a vulnerable person - aged over 70 and/or with underlying health conditions – and require urgent help, please contact 01582 546759.
Free parking on public roads and in council-owned car parks
To assist key workers who still need to get to work, we're suspending all parking charges for both on street and council-owned car parks from today.
This is to assist keyworkers to get to their places of work with greater ease and ensure hassle-free parking for all those amazing volunteers helping people who are self isolating and in need of assistance.
Time limits will continue to be in place for on-street parking bays and we would ask drivers to respect these. Council car parks will be open and are available for all day parking for those keyworkers who require it for their shifts. People are not required to make a payment or display a ticket in your vehicle.
Our cashless parking system (paybyphone) will also reflect this change. These arrangements will be in place for initially three weeks in line with the government’s recent announcement around staying at home.
Licensing service ALL six monthly vehicle appointments are suspended until further notice, No vehicles due a six monthly check during this period will need to have the check. However we would remind vehicle owners of the need to keep their vehicle in a safe and suitable condition.
More business updates More information announced for local business including a three month extension period to file accounts for companies during COVID-19 and details on commercial rent payments.
Luton Registration Service - register office now closed
The General Register Office for England and Wales and Public Health England is now closed to the general public until further notice for all services other than death registration appointments.
Parents will still be able to claim child benefit and universal credit prior to their baby’s birth being registered until birth registrations resume.
All marriage notice appointments, weddings and civil partnerships are suspended until further government advice.
Luton Tidy Tips closed until further notice The safety of customers and staff is very important, therefore in accordance with current government Coronavirus guidelines of avoiding non-essential contact and preventing a risk of infection to others, our Household Waste and Recycling Centres (Tidy Tips) will remain closed.
Closure of non-essential premises Following the latest government advice, we're adapting our public protection services while working to help ensure the safety of our residents, local businesses and our staff.
Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with previous guidance. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.
Retail and public premises which remain open must:
ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants
let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded
queue control is required outside shops and other essential premises that remain open
Our enforcement officers are out checking that businesses are complying but if you want to report a business that has failed to close do email EnvironmentalHealth@luton.gov.uk.
Access to Parking Services We are no longer offering a public counter service and all of our services are now available online on the Parking webpages.
If you encounter difficulties using our online services or if you have any other concerns, please email email@example.com. In addition you can contact us by phone, please call us on 01582 547272 and leave a voicemail message. One of the team will return your call as soon as possible.
Why it’s important to stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms
Are you overseas and trying to get home? Dominic Raab responded to an urgent question in the House of Commons on how government is supporting British people who are abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay at home activities Our new guide includes guidance for parents and carers on how to structure your days while staying at home. It also has lots of resources for all kinds of activities - both educational and fun!
We wanted to provide an update on how we’re responding to the challenges of coronavirus (COVID-19) and how we are ensuring we continue to provide the best possible service to you at this difficult time.
A package of support will be available from Affinity Water to households in financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus. The support includes:
access to payment breaks
help to reduce costs
the opportunity to spread bill payments
Anyone impacted financially by coronavirus can get help accessing this support via the Affinity Water website. People with existing health issues are advised to register for priority services so they can access additional support if required.
Following government guidance on public places, our parks will remain open but:
there will be no gatherings of more than two people except for households allowed
communal children’s play areas and fitness equipment will be out of use until further notice
Please also note the public toilets in Wardown park are currently closed.
ActionFraud have reported an increase of 400% for coronavirus-related fraud reports in March. Please remain aware and alert!
There are currently no Covid-19 home testing kits available to the public so if you are approached by someone offering to sell you a kit on your doorstep, it is a scam.
Make sure you buy medicines from registered healthcare professionals and never give out your personal or bank details to the sellers.
Beware of any emails you receive which requests your personal details including your credit card number and address . Even if it looks official, it’s a scam - official organisations do not request personal information online.
Tidy Tips Our household waste and recycling centres (Tidy Tips) on Eaton Green Road and Progress Way will not open as usual this morning. We're waiting for guidance as to whether the sites will remain shut from today until further notice.
Schools remain open but only if you really need them
Following yesterday’s announcement by the prime minister, schools and childcare providers will remain open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
If your work is not critical in the response to coronavirus then please keep your child at home. If your child can not be cared for safely at home please contact your child’s school.
Flying Start children’s centres
All Flying Start children’s centres are temporarily suspended until further notice. If you need advice or support please visit our website or call one of these numbers:
Most were open today and were able to care for over 600 children. Schools will continue to be open for children of key workers and vulnerable children on a daily basis. Parents should contact their child’s school if they have any queries.
Prime minister addresses the nation Following the announcement made by the prime minister this evening (23 March) about strict new measures to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, we're considering implications across all our services. Updates will follow shortly.
The Covid-19 pandemic is having a major impact on the aviation industry. Our focus during these unprecedented times is firmly upon supporting staff and all our partners across London Luton Airport, and preparing for a period of recovery.
Following our Statutory Consultation during the Autumn, we're considering very closely and seriously the feedback we received as we continue to prepare for a Development Consent Order application.
Luton schools, colleges and other education settings have risen to the challenge to support the government’s response to the coronavirus.
From Monday 23 March almost all mainstream education provisions will be open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. Parents should contact their child’s school should they have any queries regarding their eligibility to have their child cared for at school. Please visit the school closure page for regular updates of any closures.
We’re working hard to keep all bin collections going, but we're experiencing significant disruption to services due to the impact on our staffing levels.
We have to prioritise the collection of black waste bins and green recycling bins and therefore will be stopping the collection of the following from week commencing 23 March:
ALL brown garden waste bins
food waste caddies
In order to prevent transmission of the virus, personal waste (used tissues and cleaning cloths) should be:
stored separately to other waste
put in a rubbish bag
placed in a black sack
This should be tied and kept separate from other waste in the room/s if you are self-isolating.
Licensing update - Private Hire (PH) and Hackney Carriage (HC) driver licences
There are some important changes for PH and HC driver licences including:
the closure of public counter provision
no provision for vehicle damage and repair checks – the online service for reporting any damage should be used instead
We'll also not be accepting any new grant applications for PH and HC driver licences. Driver knowledge tests will all be postponed until further notice and for DBS verification, documents should be scanned and sent directly to personnel checks.
Changes to Luton Council services and priorities
During this Covid-19 outbreak emergency our main priorities are:
protecting the most vulnerable people in Luton
ensuring the health and safety of our residents and our staff
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and government guidance, we're now enacting our contingency plans.
See our main core service priorities and changes below.
St. George's Day and VE Day notification of cancellation
We're disappointed to announce that the events planned to mark St George’s Day in April and VE Day 75 in early May will be postponed due to COVID-19. This includes the return of the Carnival to the town centre.
Due to public interest in the Wandon Close agenda item and the ability of people to attend the meeting in person next Wednesday 25 March, the applicant has agreed to defer the consideration of this item to a future meeting of Development Control Committee, likely to be held in the next two months.
The remaining items on the March agenda will be considered at the meeting as scheduled.
Bury park mosque in partnership with Luton Council, Public Health England and the Muslim Doctors Association organised #thebigawarenessday to inform the community about staying safe in a faith setting and minimising the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
10 March 2020
Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Gerry Taylor, talks about how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) in the video below.