Cornwall Council has said people will be able to apply for help to pay their council tax during the coronavirus outbreak.

The council said tackling issues with the virus is its number one priority to ensure that the most vulnerable people in Cornwall are safe.

At a briefing at County Hall on Thursday council leader Julian German and chief executive Kate Kennally were joined by Dr Iain Chorlton, from NHS Kernow, and public health consultant Dr Ruth Goldstein.

Cllr German said: “Cornwall Council will do everything we can to support our residents.

“We will work with our residents. We will make Cornwall a place that pulls together. I ask everyone to support each other and work together.

“Over the coming weeks and months we will be doing things differently but we will retain our values.”

Cllr German said that anyone with questions should contact the council’s dedicated email address

The Government announced earlier in the week that businesses would be able to apply for a year-long business rate relief and Cllr German said the council was working to ensure that businesses could get information about this.

He also said the council’s hardship fund was also available for people who are struggling to pay their council tax bills which started to drop through letterboxes this week.

“The hardship fund is council tax relief in another guise,” he said.

“Some people will be fortunate to be able to pay their council tax and we would ask that they continue to do so as we need that money to deliver services for the people of Cornwall.”

Poeple can apply to the hardship fund for help and can either defer payments until later in the year or, in some cases, will be eligible to not pay their council tax.

Cllr German explained that the council is not legally able to give a “blanket three months of not paying council tax”.

And he said the council would be looking to increase the amount of money in the hardship fund to help those who need it.

The council leader added: “The council will do everything it can to maintain the critical services that we are delivering for the residents of Cornwall.

“We are protecting our residents and will be supporting the recovery of Cornwall in the long term.

“We can’t do that alone and we will have to work with residents, business and organisations.”

Ms Kennally said: “This is unprecedented in terms of cost, scale and impact on our residents in Cornwall, our communities and our businesses as well as on this organisation.”

She explained that large numbers of people at the council were having to work from home and staff had also been redeployed into priority areas where appropriate.

“This is our full priority at the moment, to make sure we have the right support for people across Cornwall. It means it is not business as usual here. We are focusing on our priorities.

“First of all delivering services to our most vulnerable, those who will rely on our services that they are being prioritiesed.

“We are making sure that families that need help and support continue getting the support that they need. During difficult times there will be added stresses on family life.

“Focusing on the vulnerable and young people is absolutely critical for us.”

Ms Kennally said the council was also working with NHS partners, social care, voluntary sector and parish and town councils to help people across Cornwall.

She added: “We know that as the country responds to increasing levels of coronavirus that we will need to take even more steps to make sure that the vulnerable people are getting the services that they need.”

The chief executive said the council also wanted to help businesses, highlighting that the council itself relies on the services of many businesses in Cornwall.

“We want to be able to understand what the impact is for them and be able to support those businesses,” she added. “We need people to be able to respond and understand how it is impacting on an individual whether that is an elderly person living on their own, or someone who is self-employed or a household with two working parents and children who will now not be at school.”

Ms Kennally said the council would also be following government guidance on helping rough sleepers and homeless people affected by COVID-19 and safe spaces would be provided for anyone affected.

She said it was “critical” that the council work alongside partners to put everything in place that people might need.

She said: “This is not business as usual, it is business unusual.

“With the information provided by the Government there are many questions left hanging as there are answered. It is our job to try and find those answers for Cornwall – as soon as we have those answers we will share them.

“We want to make sure we can protect families and individuals. We are planning for months rather than weeks or days. It is therefore important that we have open and clear channels of communication.”

Cornwall Council has encouraged anyone wanting more information to go to its website where there are links on the homepage.

Any enquiries should be sent to