Covid-19: The Council’s response so far

Covid-19: The Council’s response so far

The city-wide crisis response to the coronavirus outbreak has been detailed in a report going to the Council’s executive next week (Weds 6 May).

It focuses on actions taken so far and complements the other report on the agenda, which is about planning ahead to begin the city’s recovery once the immediate response phase ends.

The Council is a statutory Category One Responder as part of the Covid-19 emergency response, playing a key role in warning and communicating vital information to the public including health advice, supporting vulnerable people, implementing business support measures, supporting schools around closures, and leading on the recovery following the coronavirus outbreak. 

The response has required the Council to redirect a large part of its workforce to critical roles to support Manchester residents to be able to effectively self-isolate and stay home to limit the potential spread of the virus. 


20 March – COVID-19 Testing Hub set up in partnership with Trafford partners, MHCC, MCLO – set up testing at all MFT sites, including frontline and critical care staff. 

Primary Care and Social Care staff offered tests at a drive through centre at the Airport. And a further self-swab drive through facility at the Tennis Centre at the Etihad Campus. Discussions are currently on-going with the Department of Health and Social Care around an expansion of the Etihad site. 

The Council in partnership with public health will support the national National Contact Tracing Service (NCTS) as part of the next phase of Covid-19 response. 

Manchester and Trafford PPE Mutual Aid Hub

Manchester and Trafford have worked in partnership to find, order and distribute the necessary Personal Protection Equipment to be used in community and social care settings. 

More than 1million pieces of PPE equipment have been distributed to frontline organisations via the distribution hub at New Smithfield Market. 

Support for residents

A community response helpline was set up immediately following the closure of the Council’s contact centre, to provide a point of contact for both emergency and wider Council services. In the first three weeks of operating, the line received nearly 8,000 requests for support – the majority requesting food support. 

Of these, more than 6,000 require ongoing support for both fresh food and pre-packaged meals. The helpline is still receiving around 350 new requests for food each day. 

The Council team is working with 31 city-wide food providers and on its busiest day delivered food to 2,443 homes. The Council’s neighbourhoods and events teams have also played a central role in rolling out the community response in local areas and distributing supplies to households. 

Welfare and Benefits Support / Hardship Fund

In the context that requests for support around welfare and benefits have doubled in recent weeks and enquiries around unemployment have trebled, the Council has put forward a range of support. 

Manchester was given £7,458,231 from the Government to provide with direction that a large portion of the money be used for Council Tax Support with a £150 credit provided directly to the account of these claimants. With an expected rise in Universal Credit claimants the expectation is that the majority of this money will be s#used on this support service (circa £6.114m), with the remainder used for other discretionary welfare support – such as support for carers, support to those not on Council Tax Relief, and emergency food provisions. 

The Council has also made arrangements to support families who need free school meals during the school closures. 3,026 new applications have been approved to the value of £163,370. 

Business Support

Business Rates were not taken for any businesses on 1 April to support organisations in the short term, and relief for retail, hospitality and leisure services will apply to occupied properties in the year 2020/21 at 100%. 

Extended Retail Relief has been provided to 3,746 businesses providing £137.4m in relief, and 91 nurseries in the city have been provided rate relief of £1.05m.

A package of Business Rate Grants was announced by Government on 11 March and as of today (Thurs 20 April) 4,704 grants have been paid worth £57.79 million (an estimated 52.4% of those potentially eligible for grants).

Adult Social Care

The City Council is supporting local health and vulnerable people. 

A Control Room has been established to support discharging people from hospital and to proactively contact and work with providers to ensure continuity of care. 

350 people have been supported through this process and care providers are contacted daily to ensure staff levels and PPE are adequate.

Homelessness and Rough Sleepers 

Since the Covid outbreak the Council has accommodated more than 250 people who were either sleeping rough or at immediate risk of homelessness into hotels or self-contained accommodation, allowing these people to self-isolate more effectively. 

The Council continues to maintain its statutory duty around homelessness and is working with the city’s voluntary sector to maintain support networks for those in need. 


More than 800 Manchester children have been provided continued school places as children of key workers or children defined as vulnerable. 

There are also 30 Early Years locations and 40 childminders providing 375 places for key worker children of vulnerable young people. 

Contact remains for Manchester’s 1,431 looked after children to ensure they have the network of support they need. 

Libraries, Galleries and Culture

Online services have been developed to ensure residents can access library and cultural services during lockdown, including temporary membership for all residents to access online resources, such as eBooks, audio books, eMagazines and eNewspapers. 

Library staff have also been using their 3D printer to help make PPE equipment for community use.


On-going projects have continued while ensuring social distancing to ensure major highways developments are not delayed, taking advantage of quieter roads during lockdown. These include projects on Hyde Road, Great Ancoats Street, Chorlton Cycleway and Stockport Road. 


The Council has so far been allocated £33.756m from Government in recognition of the increased pressures associated with the Covid-19 response. However, it is estimated that the combined cost of extra spending required and lost income will be at least £152m this financial year alone.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the lives of everybody living in our city. The response therefore has been large-scale and complex and Council staff, volunteers and the voluntary and community sector have mobilised quickly and in partnership to make sure those that need it have the support they need. 

“Of course this is only the beginning of what will be a long road to recovery and we will all need to continue our efforts in the coming months. The path ahead will be difficult but help is there for those that need it. I commend everybody who has been part of the huge response effort so far.”

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