£23 million for councils to boost vaccine take up

Over £23 million funding has been allocated to 60 councils and voluntary groups across England to expand work to support those most at risk from coronavirus and boost vaccine take up.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said that councils and voluntary organisations can use the Community Champions scheme to help deliver a wide range of measures to protect those most at risk - building trust, communicating accurate health information and ultimately helping to save lives. This will include developing new networks of trusted local champions where they don’t already exist.

The funding is specifically targeted at areas with plans to reach groups such as older people, disabled people, and people from ethnic minority backgrounds who according to the latest evidence are more likely to suffer long-term impacts and poor outcomes from coronavirus. Each of the 60 councils have developed their own plan to improve communications with these groups including helplines, school programmes, workplace engagement, phoning those in at risk groups as well as training sessions to help people provide information and advice.

The funding will also support areas to tackle misinformation and encourage take-up as the vaccination programme expands across the country.

Jenrick said: “It is vital that everyone has access to accurate and up to date information about Covid-19. False information about Covid-19 vaccines could cost lives. Today’s funding will help councils and community groups expand some of the excellent work already underway and reach out to their communities to ensure they have the information they need and get their questions answered. Ultimately this funding will help save lives.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Vaccinating as many people as possible is the only certain way we can get through this pandemic. This funding will help councils build on the excellent work they are doing locally to encourage everyone from all parts of the community to get vaccinated and tackle dangerous misinformation.

“Keeping our communities well informed will help minimise the risk of the virus spreading. Councils’ unique relationship with the people they represent mean they are well placed to reach out to those in the priority groups and beyond. As well as sharing the latest information and guidance, councils are working hard to understand and share experiences of what is working well in different communities and what isn't, what questions people are asking and what people think needs to be better. They will continue to do all they can to make sure that everyone has the information they need to stay safe and healthy.”