PLANS are being made to adapt public services in Monmouthshire, as the council predicts a rise in people requiring help as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
County council bosses are preparing for a rise in demand for support, with unemployment expected to increase, workers on furlough and parents struggling with home-schooling.
Changes could need to be made to ensure support is available as many of those hit by the pandemic will not have used public services before, a meeting of Monmouthshire council’s Public Service Board select committee heard on Monday.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of people claiming out of work benefits in Monmouthshire more than doubled from March to May, from 975 to 2,345.
Matthew Gatehouse, head of policy and governance at Monmouthshire council, said “a different sort of response”, involving more collaboration, would be required to help those who have not accessed public service systems before.
“We will have a lot of people coming through our doors dealing with issues they have never dealt with before,” Mr Gatehouse told the committee.
“We will have more people out of work that have perhaps never been unemployed before.
“We will have people who have struggled with home-schooling.
“We will have people who have been furloughed, on low income, on the border of poverty, who have never experienced this before.”
Public Services Boards (PSBs), which include members of the council, health board, Natural Resources Wales and fire service, are planning for the months ahead with an increased focus on collaboration of services.
In a letter to PSBs across Wales, Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government, said they will have a “vital role” to play.
“The response will require increased collaboration and sharing of resources; as well as recognising that in many service areas there has needed to be a fundamental change in how they operate,” Ms James says in the letter.
Sharran Lloyd, community and partnership development manager at Monmouthshire council, told the committee families who were previously “just about managing” have now been “tipped into an awkward position where they probably don’t know how to navigate some of the systems we have” because of the pandemic.
Ms Lloyd said the board would need to make itself “more adaptable” to these issues, warning there would be “some significant challenges ahead”.