Please do not light bonfires at this time to protect the respiratory health of the vulnerable and to avoid an unnecessary burden on the NHS. We appreciate your support in this.

Coronavirus - how our services are affected

We have closed most of our public buildings but will continue to run essential frontline services. Our priorities at this time are to:

  • ensure continuity of care
  • support vulnerable people
  • support the local economy

As restrictions ease we are looking at how we can reopen our services whilst keeping you safe.

Not everything will reopen immediately and some services may have new restrictions in place such as pre-booking appointments or limiting large groups.

If you need to contact us please do it online in the first instance, or by phone on 0118 937 3787 if it is an urgent welfare issue. We appreciate your patience as we deal with enquiries at this busy time. We will prioritise those in most urgent need of our help, and we will respond to everyone as soon as is possible.

Team Reading: Coronavirus response volunteers

We are asking people to sign-up now to join a list of response volunteers who can be called upon to support the activities of local organisations in their response to the coronavirus outbreak as required - Reading Voluntary Action - coronavirus volunteer sign-up information

The government's advice on coronavirus will change regularly. Please check back here for the latest council service information.

How services are being affected

Adult social care

Financial support for providers

Reading Services Guide

Children and education 

School closures

Reading Play

Reading Services Guide

Libraries

Parking

Permits for healthcare professionals

Housing

Social housing

Homelessness

Housing repairs

Rent Guarantee Scheme

Rent

HMOs

Landlords

Tenants

Financial difficulties

Concessionary bus pass travel

Births, deaths and ceremonies

Crematorium and cemeteries

Coroner's referrals

Planning

Building control

Waste services

Garden waste service

Recycling centres

Street care and highway maintenance

Leisure

Museum, Town Hall and Berkshire Record Office

Parks

Cancelled events

Allotments

Local business advice

Trading Standards advice

Ward surgeries

Corporate and councillor complaints

Reading Magistrates Court

Adult care forums

Overseas pension validations - Proof of Life Certificates

How services are being affected

Children's services

Key workers' childcare

School closures

The Department for Education announced on 18 March that schools, colleges and early years settings will close from Monday 23 March, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children. Schools open to key workers' children and vulnerable children

Contact your school or provider to determine places for your children from Monday. If your provider is closed or you are unable to contact them they will be in touch with you before Monday.

Please keep checking Brighter Futures for Children website Covid-19 page which will be updated throughout the

Reading Play

Holiday clubs

Due to the latest government guidance regarding school closures and the need to support key workers, Reading Play will be running Waterloo Meadows Holiday play club childcare service for key workers only. We will not be running Green Park or The Hill play club until further notice in the holiday periods to allow the service to support provision for key workers at Waterloo Meadows.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Southcote Children's Centre will be closed this week but will reopen next Monday (30 March) for midwifery.

After school clubs

Reading Play intends to continue running its after school clubs to support parents and guardians who are key workers only. If you are a key worker and plan to use the club from Monday please contact us to ensure we have your most up to date contact details, email address and to confirm you wish to use the service.

Play refunds and credits

We will be issuing refunds or credits for future clubs depending on preference. We will be contacting parents with existing bookings and we encourage parents to email us at reading.play@reading.gov.uk or phone 01189372632 for advice or further information.

Please note that we are following the latest government safety advice and we are expecting a government announcement with details on key workers shortly.

Brighter Futures for Children - coronavirus update

Births, deaths, and citizenship/civil partnerships/marriage ceremonies

While the Civic Offices are closed to the public, appointments for registering deaths  will continue by telephone only. To make an appointment, call 0118 937 3533.  

We are now taking for Birth registrations appointments by date of birth order. If your baby was born up to and including 10 May 2020 please contact us on 0118 9373533 . Please note The Register Office is located within the Civic Offices on Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU

Where families need to access benefits, the advice is that customers can now make a claim for child benefit or universal credit prior to the birth being registered, where they have not been able to do so because of the Covid19 Pandemic. We will update the website when we can offer the next group of appointments.

The birth certificate printing service is available. Please call 0118 937 3533 to make payment. Express (next day) replacement certificate service closed, but standard 14 day service still available.

Marriage and Civil Partnership ceremonies are now recommencing in our Town Hall Ceremony Room. We are currently prioritising and contacting customers who had existing bookings during the lockdown period. Only the couple and two witnesses are allowed to attend the ceremony. Customers will get detailed information from our staff at the point of rebooking the ceremonies. We will be open for new bookings as soon as we are able to. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Crematorium and cemeteries

All cemeteries are reopening to the public from 21 April.

To comply with the latest government initiatives to combat the spread of Covid-19, the following decisions have been taken:

  • The number of mourners to be as low as possible to ensure a safe distance of at least 2 metres (6 ft) can be maintained between individuals, alongside the Funeral Director, Chapel Attendant, and funeral staff only the following should attend:
    • members of the person's household
    • close family members
    • or if the above are unable to attend, close friends
    • attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this
  • mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering
  • mourners who are self-isolating for 14 days due to someone in their household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) but are not symptomatic themselves may  attend the funeral in person should they wish to do so, with processes put in place to minimise the risk of transmission. Please inform your Funeral Director prior to the service so arrangements can be made
  • mourners who are clinically vulnerable or in a shielded group should also be facilitated to attend, with processes put in place to minimise the risk of transmission, again please inform your Funeral Director prior to the service so arrangements can be made in advance.
  • any mourner who is showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (a new continuous cough or a high temperature) should not attend the funeral as they pose a risk to others; remote participation should be considered
  • Webcasting of funeral services is available for those who cannot attend, please ask your funeral director.
  • We cannot offer to witness charging of the coffin at this time.
  • We are suspending or postponing witnessed burials or scattering of ashes and other similar services until further notice.
  • Collection of ashes from the crematorium office is suspended until further notice. There will be no charge to families for storage. If you wish your funeral director to collect, please make arrangements directly.
  • Please note their may be delays in completing the transfer of ownership of graves due to solicitors offices not opening. Priority will be given to those cases which require a grave to be transferred prior to the full burial and not for the installation of memorials.

The Crematorium office is closed but can be contacted by telephone 0118 937 2200 or by email cem.crem@reading.gov.uk. Funeral services are still taking place with a request that families try to limit attendees. We will update as soon as we have any further information.

Adult social care

Face-to-face visits are being limited to essential only. We are making phone assessments where necessary and viable.

Most day centres are running as normal. 

Maple Day Centre closed until further notice.

Nursing homes - please contact nursing homes directly for their policies and guidance.

Financial Support for Adult Social Care Providers

Reading Borough Council are hugely grateful to Adult Social Care providers for the support they have continued to deliver to our Residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked alongside providers to ensure continuity of service to our most vulnerable people.

Local services - see Reading Services Guide's Wellbeing Newsletter and latest updates about local services for Covid-19

Concessionary bus pass travel

For the duration of the coronavirus emergency, Reading Borough Council is allowing anyone with an elderly persons concessionary bus pass to use this service at any time for free travel on local bus services, including before 9.30am on Mondays to Fridays. Wherever possible elderly residents should order a food delivery or ask someone they trust to shop for them, but by allowing earlier travel with a concessionary pass we can offer a better option for those who cannot do so.

Libraries

Recorded information for libraries available on 0118 901 5950 or info@readinglibraries.org.uk

We are planning a phased reopening of these services. This will start with Central Library in the town centre towards the end of July, initially with a reduced service and opening hours.

  • All sites closed
  • Items can now only be returned at Central Library bookdrop
  • No items will be due back whilst we are closed. Systems will update soon to reflect this. No fines relating to these fines will exist
  • All events and rhymetimes cancelled
  • Home Library service suspended
  • eBooks, eAudio and eMagazines service unaffected

Waste services

Waste collection crews are taking a number of precautions to help prevent the spread of Covid19, including the use of gloves and regular use of hand sanitiser. There are further steps everyone can take to help us and help protect our key workers. Please wash your hands before putting your bins out and clean your bin handles before bringing the bin back in.

Please do not put out extra waste next to your bin. If you have had a clear-out please store the waste at your house, in your garden or garage, until the current government restrictions are lifted to reduce pressure on collection crews. This is very important as the recycling centre (tip) is now closed.

Waste collections will start from 6am each day rather than 7am until further notice.

Bulky waste collections have been resumed (29 April).

Bin deliveries have been resumed.

Bottle and clothing banks - due to increased demand we are increasing collections from the banks. If the banks are too full to use, please take your recycling home and try again when the banks have been emptied. 

Recycling centres

Bookings for the re3 Recycling Centre 'Click&Tip' service will open at 10am on Friday 15th May 2020 (visit www.reading.gov.uk/recyclingcentrebooking). The Recycling Centres will be open to residents who have booked from Monday 18th May 2020. There are limited slots available and the booking system will not be available once all slots are taken.

Garden waste collections

The garden waste collection service have resumed. 

Getting rid of your waste if you are self-isolating or confirmed to have coronavirus

If you have been confirmed to have coronavirus or suspect you may have, you should dispose of waste that is heavily contaminated - such as tissues and cleaning cloths - in a different way than usual:

  • place the contaminated waste in a plastic bag or bin liner, tied securely
  • place this bag in another bag and tie it securely
  • store these bags separately from other waste for at least 72 hours before putting it in with your general rubbish for collection

Street care and highway maintenance

Cleansing services will be maintained but some changes to frequencies will be introduced.

Essential highways maintenance and emergency work will continue until further notice

Leisure

Due to the latest government advice, we have taken the decision to close a number of buildings, including the leisure centres from Tuesday 17 March.

It is not possible to say exactly how long they will be closed. We will monitor the situation and follow government and public health guidance.

Latest information on Rivermead leisure service

Membership Direct Debit

All Direct Debit payments for both membership and people on courses have been suspended. No further Direct Debit payments will be taken until the centres are running as normal. Any credits on accounts will be adjusted on resumption of the Direct Debit, or if customers prefer we will give a pro rata refund for fees paid.

Block bookings

All bookings have been suspended whilst the centres are closed. Booking slots will be held so you won't lose your slot when we return to normal operation. If payment in advance has been made then our administration team will be in touch to arrange refunds or credits

Party/event bookings

All bookings for the next six weeks have been suspended. We will be in touch and either rearrange the booking or issue a full refund for any party/event affected by the closure.

General enquiries relating to credits and payments can be made by contacting rsl.enquiries@reading.gov.uk quoting your name, address and membership number.

Parks

Parks remain open but please comply with the government restrictions and social distancing advice.

Playgrounds and outdoor gyms across Reading are set to reopen from Saturday 4 July. The sites we have prioritised for opening on 4 July have been chosen to provide a fair geographical spread across the borough so that no one will be far away from an open playground. 

Tennis and basketball courts are open again following government announcement.

Allotments

Allotments remain open.

Housing

Housing Officers will be available to discuss any urgent housing or anti-social behaviour issues you may have. You can contact them on 0118 937 2161 or by emailing rents@reading.gov.uk.

Social housing

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to social housing residents

Letter from the Minister of Housing setting out the measures that are in place to support social housing residents during the next phase towards reopening society.

Homelessness

Please be advised that as a result of the closure of the Civic Office in line with the social distancing advice from the government, we are changing the way we are delivering our service. Therefore please be aware of the following:

  • Our Homelessness Prevention Teams and Tenancy Sustainment Team will still be operating their essential services, however the Civic Offices will not be open for face to face appointments
  • We will no longer be home visiting, unless this is considered an essential visit
  • If we consider the visit to be essential you will be asked screening questions prior to the visit taking place, and as a result this may change to a different format of communication
  • If you are at risk of becoming homeless and would like some advice please contact 0118 9372165 to discuss, or email less urgent enquiries to housing.advice@reading.gov.uk
  • If you have an appointment booked with one of the Homeless Prevention Officers this will still go ahead on the phone. You will receive a call at the time of your booked appointment. Please ensure you have your phone charged, and if possible you are in a private area to receive the call and to discuss your housing needs. If this is not possible, please call 0118 937 2165 and leave a message with your name, number and enquiry and you will receive a call back before the end of the day. Alternatively, you can email the team at housing.advice@reading.gov.uk. If you have the direct dial number of the Officer you were due to see, call them on the number provided.
  • If you already have an allocated Officer please contact them directly on their direct dial number which should have been provided to you
  • If you would like to provide any supporting information, or you are requested to provide documents during this time we will accept a photo or scanned copy of the document, which can be emailed to us at housing.advice@reading.gov.uk - please be advised that this will need to clear and legible
  • Any correspondence that we are required to send to you will be sent via email
  • If you call our main Housing Advice number, 0118 9372165 you will only have the facility to leave a message, however the answerphone will  be regularly checked throughout the day and you will receive a call back the same day if your message is left before 4pm.

Rent 

Please continue to pay your rent as normal. You can pay us using the following methods:

  • Direct Debit - A direct Debit allows us to ask your bank to transfer payments direct to us from your account.
  • Rent Card Payment - You can use this to pay in any shop that has the paypoint logo.
  • Automated Telephone Payments - If you call 0118 937 2877, you will be able to pay using a credit or debit card.
  • Online - Go to www.reading.gov.uk and click on paying your rent or deposit under the Housing Heading.
  • By cheque - Make your cheque payable to Reading Borough Council and write your 6 or 7 digit rent on the back of the cheque along with the first line of your address.
  • If you have any concerns about making payments or are unsure how to pay, please send an email to rents@reading.gov.uk and include your name, address and contact telephone number, and we will respond within 3 working days. Alternatively, you can call us on 0118 937 2784.

We are aware some of our customers are having difficulty in contacting our Rents teams by phone. We are working to try and resolve this and apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Housing repairs

Due to resourcing issues we can only take calls from 10am to 3pm.

Repair jobs can still be booked. We will prioritise the most urgent jobs. You can call us on 0800 318 296.

Rent Guarantee Scheme


Following further government guidance, estate agencies have now been advised that some moves to private rented accommodation can proceed, provided that social distancing restrictions are observed. In line with this guidance, the Rent Guarantee Scheme will be facilitating some signups through the Scheme.

All viewings and signups will be conducted according to social distancing restrictions and will be prioritised for households where there is an imminent risk of homelessness.

If you have already been accepted onto the Rent Guarantee Scheme and you have found a property to rent, please contact the Scheme on 0118 937 2233.

If you are concerned that you may become homeless, or that your housing situation may worsen, please contact the Housing Advice Team on 0118 937 2165.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Advice and guidance for HMO landlords regarding the pandemic is available in the pdf icon Landlord Focus newsletter [351kb]

Landlords

The pdf icon Landlord Focus newsletter [351kb] contains advice and guidance for landlords on how to manage their properties during the coronavirus restriction. 

Tenants

A special issue of the pdf icon tenant information newsletter [232kb] is available, providing advice and guidance for households renting from a private landlord during the pandemic. 

Parking

Parking and bus lane restrictions have been focussed on ensuring routes to the hospital were clear. We are now updating our approach to enforce residents parking restrictions, too.

We are increasing the time limit on temporary permits from eight weeks to 16 weeks to help in exceptional circumstances.

We are experiencing pressure on our telephone lines for permits, please make any queries about parking permit applications by email: residents.parking@reading.gov.uk.

We are making free parking available at Queen's Road Car Park for Royal Berkshire Hospital staff for the duration of the Covid-19 response. The car park works on automatic number plate recognition technology. Royal Berkshire Hospital will supply a list of registration numbers so that the hospital workers can park for free. There are no lifts in action at Queen's Road Car Park.

Parking permits for healthcare professionals

Due to an increase in the number of residents at home, we have agreed that healthcare professional permits will be issued free of charge for the next four months (applications received between 20/03/2020 and 20/07/2020). The permits will be valid for four months and need to be applied for in the usual way.

Planning

The planning service is still operating. However, staff are now entirely home-based, and this has had some implications for the way that the service is running. 

Contacting the Planning Service

General enquiries should be made through the council's contact centre as normal. In order to ensure that you receive a response, please provide an email address.

Case officers will be available to contact by email, and this is the preferred method of contact. General email addresses for other parts of the service such as Planning Policy and Natural Environment will continue to be used. Planning enforcement enquiries should be made through the website.

Site visits

Planning, enforcement or natural environment officers will not be able to undertake site visits until further notice. Applicants should please provide comprehensive photographs of the outside and inside of a property and/or relevant views out.  Some applications will not be able to be considered at this time, and the Council is currently considering how this should be approached.

Submitting applications

The preferred method of submission is via the Planning Portal. Applications submitted by hard copy will experience delay in processing.

Consultation responses

Whilst we are operating in this manner, for any consultations on planning applications that have not yet commenced, only consultation responses sent electronically, either by email or submitted online, will be accepted.

Meetings

Officers of the planning service will not be conducting face-to-face meetings until further notice. Officers are contactable over email or by phone. Pre-application enquiries for a scoping meeting will need to be delayed in most cases.

Building control

We are open for business as usual and available on 07966 965 073 from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. If you are unable to get through, please email buildingcontrol@reading.gov.uk

As a result of the Government's announcement of measures to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, it has been necessary to review our current inspection arrangements for works under construction.

You will have received your site inspection service plan which indicates the inspection stages that you should notify us of during construction. As per legislative requirement, please ensure that you notify us at commencement and when all other inspection stages have been reached. Site inspections will be available again shortly. If you have any queries regarding site inspections or any other issues, please contact Building Control Team by emailing us at buildingcontrol@reading.gov.uk or calling 07966 965 073.

Ward surgeries

In accordance with the latest government advice, which includes social distancing measures, the decision has been taken to suspend regular councillor ward surgeries until further notice. 

Your ward councillors remain contactable and you can still reach them by phone or by email. Councillor contact information.

 

Museum, Town Hall and Berkshire Record Office

All these buildings are closed to visitors. 

Berkshire Record Office will still respond to written enquiries.

Corporate and councillor complaints

We have been assessing the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our ability to continue to deliver our services in respect of complaints while at the same time protecting our colleagues. 

We have been reviewing the developments and Government announcements on a daily basis and have closely followed the advice issue by Public Health England.

We temporarily suspended our service effective from Wednesday 25 March. At this current time our Offices are closed and staff are working from home. A number of staff have also been redeployed to front line services to ensure the Council can provide essential services to the most vulnerable at this time.

This means, during this time, we will not able to process new complaints and we may be unable to continue to work on your existing case at this time. This is because the Council is a front line response service and considerable effort is being made to keep essential services running by redeploying staff from other areas. It is inevitable that there may be disruption to our usual services as we are prioritising maintaining social care services, reaching the vulnerable with support and supporting businesses. In that context, we have to make difficult decisions and it will take longer to respond to your enquiry or complaint.

Reading Magistrates Court

The Deputy Senior Presiding Judge (SPJ) has directed the Magistrates Courts to take rapid action to adjourn certain non-urgent or non-essential cases given the current exceptional circumstances. 

The categories of case identified by the Deputy SPJ are:

  • Failing to send child to school prosecutions
  • Court hearings that originated from SJP and were then referred to court for a hearing - this is all hearings including trials and disqualifications (We will continue to deal with business under the Single Justice process where possible - it is merely those cases that have been referred to court that will be adjourned)
  • All Council Tax enforcement
  • All Civil Maintenance enforcement
  • Planned fine enforcement work

All defendants will be sent written notification that their case has been adjourned to 30 June 2020 for a non-effective hearing.   The court will in the meantime allocate a revised effective hearing date to all parties.

For further information on how the courts and tribunals are planning and preparing for COVID 19 see the latest guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation

Adult care forums

Adult care forums are cancelled pending further notice

Overseas pension validations - Proof of Life Certificates

Council officials are currently unable to sign Proof of Life Certificates for residents who need this for the continued payment of their overseas pensions. This service has been suspended while the Civic Offices are not open to the public, and the staff who usually certify this documentation are working from home. Please consult the embassy or consulate of the country paying your pension for further advice.

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