Supporting the Community Transport Sector: CTA’s Next Steps
Like so many areas of society, coronavirus has caused significant upheaval in the way that community transport operates. At CTA, it’s our job as the national membership body for the sector to provide timely and relevant advice and support to our members, both with and without a major pandemic to contend with. That’s what we’ve aimed to do during this coronavirus pandemic and, as we start to gradually emerge from lock-down, it’s as important as ever that we continue to provide you with the support you need to run your services safely, securely and sustainably.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be helping our members meet the challenges of emerging from lock-down. We’ll be releasing detailed guidance, tool-kits and resources, as well as being there for you in our member advice-drop in calls and with our advice service, to help you operate in what will be a new and uncertain environment.
The Latest Guidance from the UK and Devolved Governments
In recent weeks, the UK Government and devolved administrations have updated their coronavirus guidance to ease certain aspects of the lock-down, and this easing is expected to continue in the coming weeks and months.
You can always find the most relevant and up to date guidance in the following places:
When planning your journeys, you can refer the information on this page which summarises some areas of the UK Government’s guidance but please also read in full the relevant guidance for transport operators from the UK, Welsh and Scottish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive. There are links to these documents below, as well as some other relevant information.
What do the most recent changes mean for community transport?
Am I still only allowed to run essential services?
Guidance from the UK Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive no longer states that public transport should only be used for essential journeys, as has been the case up until now. The Welsh Government however still states individuals should only travel for essential journeys.
Whilst people are still encouraged to limit their use of public transport, and it is still recommended that people should walk, cycle or drive wherever possible, this gives more scope for community transport providers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to gradually re-introduce more services that they wouldn’t have previously been able to run. Please note that this does not apply to car schemes, as shared car journeys are still only allowed for essential travel.
The guidance below looks at our recommendations of what you need to consider when running any services in the near future.
Am I allowed to leave the house to operate/coordinate any services we’re running?
According to the UK Government guidance, everyone that can work from home should still work from home. However, for most who work in the community transport sector, working from home is not practical. If you can’t work from home, you are therefore allowed to travel to your place of work to run your services.
Please note this is with the proviso that you do not have to self-isolate due to yourself or anyone in your household displaying symptoms of coronavirus or coming into contact with someone who has symptoms, or the virus itself. If anyone involved in running your services should be self-isolating due to these reasons, they should not be coming into work.
When running or restarting any services it is imperative that this is done with the safety of passengers, volunteers and employees in mind. This means following strict social distancing and hygiene protocols.
CTA has worked with the TAS Partnership to provide detailed guidance on how to restart and sustain your services. This document covers the following topics:
Resources and funding programmes in response to coronavirus
We know that funding is a real concern for community transport providers at the moment, with many of their sources of income no longer being viable in the face of coronavirus, and many of their overheads still in place.
There are however, a number of different funding sources that are offering emergency funding to charities and organisations going through these sorts of difficulties.
This includes a recently announced £750m fund from the UK Government, of which £370 million will go to small local charities including those delivering food and essential medicines. You can find more information here.
We’ve also put together a list of other potentially useful funds at ctauk.org/coronavirus-funding-and-resources/. Given the rapidly changing situation, there are new programmes emerging regularly so this is not an exhaustive list and we will be updating it with new information, so keep checking back.
Guidance on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Since the introduction of the furlough scheme, many community transport operators, like many other businesses and organisations, have been left with no choice but to furlough some or all of their employees. Our recent report into the effect of coronavirus on community transport showed that 43% of CTA members said that they have, or may have to, furlough members of staff.
On 29 May, the UK Government’s Chancellor announced a series of changes to the scheme, including workers being able to go back part-time from July.
On 22 May, Keith Arrowsmith, a senior solicitor and partner of Counterculture Partnership LLP joined our member advice drop-in to answer members’ questions about the scheme. You can find a recap of that session here.
Volunteers over 70
As well as considering the safety of passengers, it’s also important to think about how organisations can protect volunteers who may be older or classed as vulnerable. We know that many invaluable volunteers have had to self-isolate or to shield throughout the lockdown as they are at a higher risk and that some of them are now starting to express an interest in returning to their previous roles. For many of the volunteers involved with community transport, there are as many benefits for them as there are for the passengers. This makes it extremely difficult for organisations who are legitimately concerned about safety when a volunteer is keen to return to driving.
When considering how you want to manage volunteers returning, you should be aware that there is a possibility of some individuals being classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. This is the category which will have received a letter from their GP advising them to shield. The guidance if you are in this category is that ‘you’re strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum (for instance once per day).’ Please also see the specific guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It would not currently be advisable for anyone in this group to return to a driving role. However, they may be able to offer support in other ways, such as telephone befriending.
For volunteers who are over 70, the current UK Government guidance defines them as clinically vulnerable. “This means that you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.” Again, please also see specific guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As the guidance is not as prescriptive for this group, we have heard of some individuals feeling that they would be happy to return to volunteering despite being at a higher risk. If this is something which you are considering, we would advise extreme caution and to ensure that you complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. It may not be helpful to create a blanket policy about whether to allow older volunteers to return or not. Instead, it may be more appropriate to consider each volunteer individually, the role they are volunteering for, and to create a specific risk assessment for each one. Although this process may be time consuming, it may help both you as an operator and the volunteer to feel more confident.
Where possible you should first consider offering volunteering roles which can be done from home. You could also consider offering roles where maintaining social distancing is easier, such as making deliveries. Where social distancing is not possible you will need to carefully assess what control measures you can put in place and whether you are then left with an acceptable level of risk. It may be worth discussing this with your insurers to understand what cover you have in place regarding volunteers. NCVO have produced some guidance about insurance for volunteers and have also shared a useful webinar about Covid-19 and managing risks.
General information and guidance
General advice for understanding the symptoms
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has coronavirus:
A high temperature
Shortness of breath
If you are worried about symptoms please all NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 coronavirus website. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.
Wash your hands often, with soap (or soap substitutes) and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after taking public transport so make sure you remind your passengers of the need to do this.
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
SignHealth has created British Sign Language (BSL) videos to help deaf BSL users either working in charities or receiving support.
Carers UK has produced recommendations for carers.
Full Fact has generated a fact check page on covid-19 to help dispel any false information.
The CTA Advice Service
CTA Advice Service: The CTA team are currently working remotely, so to ensure you speak to the right person first time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a call back for advice and support. Our advice service operates 10-4pm Monday-Friday.
Advice Service Drop-in: due to the changing nature of the situation, our advice team will be holding a weekly online drop-in where members can join a video call to talk to the team and each other about the latest guidance and ask any questions. You can find a recap of the latest session, along with details of our next call on ctauk.org/blog.
Related Information /
Our advice as your membership body is to always take guidance from the experts. The governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be working closely with the UK Government.
Our main references points will be the official advice from the UK Government and NHS England:
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.