DUMFRIES and Galloway Council’s leader says it is unlikely its services will return fully to pre-pandemic levels.
Councillor Elaine Murray said: “The council has sustained essential services through the emergency lockdown, despite challenging circumstances.
“We’ve adapted our delivery models and worked closely with other organisations and partners to achieve this.
“While it is unlikely that there will be a full return to pre-pandemic operating arrangements, it’s essential we approach restart and recovery activity with a consistent approach to engagement in the council.
“This is important to inform restart plans for services and ensure our recovery work is appropriately designed and focused.”
Dr Murray was speaking after a meeting to consider a report on the response to the COVID-19 emergency and arrangements for restart and recovery, while continuing to respond to the pandemic.
The arrangements recognise response, restart and recovery activity will occur simultaneously over an extended period, taking into account the government’s route map and phasing plans, public health guidance and long-term forecasts for economic and social impact.
Councillors noted the commitment and significant effort of staff, volunteers and partners and their individual and collective contribution to the initial emergency response.
They also noted the sustained pace and effort contributed by frontline staff and officers in this period, which has stretched resources and capacity.
Since April 1, the council has awarded 3,552 grants worth £37m to eligible businesses and given rent holidays to businesses and community organisations for council-owned properties.
It has also developed a town centres restart plan.
About 150,000 free school meals and 8,248 free school meal direct cash payments have been provided.
It contacted 6,067 people who were shielding and 8,509 people who asked for help through the national helpline and responded to rises in demand for social work interventions.
Care and support were sustained for people in their homes, while working with care providers and the council reconfigured care at home packages to provide an extra 360 hours of care a week.
A rapid response team of social workers, social care and nursing staff was set up to deliver support to care homes in emergencies 5,120 meal boxes were delivered to people who were shielding.
The council worked with community groups and volunteers and distributed hardship funding to food providers and key third sector organisations to support vulnerable people.
About £400,000 of hardship funding was allocated to support the activities of community organisations.
It was also able to sustain essential weekly waste collection, supported by redeployed staff, and has reopened household waste recycling centres.