The council says it has distributed £17 million to businesses in the district as part of its "effective" measures to handle the coronavirus pandemic.

St Albans District Council leader Cllr Chris White gave an update on the council's efforts at an online cabinet meeting last Thursday (April 23).

The council is classed as a category one responder and is tasked by the Government to provide a number of civil protection duties.

One of the main measures was the spreading out £17 million of Government grants to 1,100 qualifying businesses in the area, with a further £6 million due to be sent out soon.The money is non-repayable and is intended to help the companies survive the crisis.

The council said it has processed a high number of new claims for council tax support, increased housing benefit payments for some claimants in privately rented accommodation. They've also provided advice on other benefits like job seekers allowance and universal credit.

Other measures the council said it has carried out includes:

  • Making parking at council car parks free for NHS staff and key workers.
  • Ensuring roads remain accessible for emergency vehicles by deterring dangerous parking at junctions or loading bays.
  • Securing accommodation with the help of Hightown Housing Association and charities for rough sleepers in the district.
  • Maintained waste collection, recycling and street cleaning services to ensure rubbish does not pile up at homes or on the streets.
  • Identified and contacted vulnerable people such as older housing tenants to ensure they are getting the help they need.
  • Helped with the administration of the volunteer scheme run by Communities 1st to help the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

Cllr White said: "This has been an unprecedented challenge that has placed huge demands on all our public services and the key workers that maintain them.

"We have also worked closely with other local authorities, public agencies, charities and community groups as we are all in this together.

"I have also been impressed with the support that the public has shown. Our bin crews, for instance, have been overwhelmed by the many thank-you messages they have received from people isolated at home.

"That is the sort of community spirit, combined with the heroic efforts of those on the frontline, that will eventually get the district through this crisis."