Helpline launch to support residents most vulnerable to coronavirus

Lambeth Town Hall lit up in blue for NHS 70 celebrationsA helpline for people who are over 70 or have an existing medical condition which makes them more vulnerable to coronavirus was launched today by Lambeth council. The number is 020 7926 2999.

You or someone acting on your behalf can call the helpline to get advice on issues you are having, including access to medicines and food. The call handler will help you to connect with the right department in the council or to other organisations, such as Age UK, who can help you get support. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.

Making the announcement Council leader Jack Hopkins said: “I want to pay tribute to those who have already started this work in the community and have already helped many people who desperately needed support.

“Now, we need to harness the energy of our community to help our neighbours at this time of great need – please volunteer online at lambeth.gov.uk/volunteer to take part in this enormous community effort.

“The council’s number one priority is to support the over 4,000 most vulnerable residents in our borough. We are working very closely with our foodbanks, Lambeth Larder, Age UK and other organisations to ensure vulnerable residents have access to the supplies they need to stay safely at home. In only a week we have put in place a network which will shortly be called into action to deliver at a local level.”

He urged residents to stick to the restrictions imposed by the UK Government on Monday evening. “The message could not be more stark or more important – stay at home and save lives. These measures are essential to protecting our friends, family and neighbours as well as our NHS at this very difficult time. By following the official advice, you will play a vital part in the battle against the virus.

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Supporting workers and businesses

The council also launched a major economic package – Lambeth’s Local Economy Support Package – to support workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Package will include:

  • Rent relief for voluntary and community sector and businesses that rent council properties and are most impacted by the crisis including hairdressers, cafes, restaurants, beauty salons and non-food retailers. This benefits over 220 local small businesses and community organisations.
  • Grants to businesses – Government have announced grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 for businesses who receive Small Business Rate Relief or are in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors. From today we are paying these grants directly to businesses who are eligible, and we are doing this before receiving the funding from Government. There is no need to apply for this and those who are eligible will be contacted directly.
  • Business Rates relief – the business rate relief support announced by Government is being applied to accounts automatically. This includes 100% business rate relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for 2020/21
  • Freezing commercial waste charges for any pub, club or restaurant that requests it.
  • Establishing a Business Task Force with Lambeth’s 7 Business Improvement Districts to coordinate responses and work up additional proposals to support local businesses and support the eventual economic recovery effort
  • Lobbying Government to support self-employed residents, many of which work in the creative industries in Lambeth, with additional measures to alleviate financial hardship.

Hopkins said: “This is a package that will invest over £1.2 million in local businesses and voluntary groups, providing a lifeline to many in these difficult times and ensuring our thriving business and voluntary sectors can bounce back when this crisis recedes.”

Council services

Council leader Jack Hopkins said: “The council is mobilising all its resources to deliver essential services. This has meant reducing some services in line with government advice (including closing our customer service centre, libraries and leisure centres) and redeploying staff to other areas. However, as well as the action I have set out, we are looking at all the services we offer and at what more we can do to help residents, as well as listening to feedback directly from you.”

The Council is:

  • Expanding the Emergency Support Scheme for those at immediate risk of financial hardship, with an extra £500,000 for emergency financial support for Lambeth residents.
  • Pausing all enforcement activity against people for council tax and rent arrears during the pandemic.
  • Expanding support for vulnerable people who struggle to pay their council tax through the Council Tax Support Scheme.
  • Offering council tax payment flexibility, for example switching direct debit payments so they run from June to March. Please contact the council tax team if you wish to discuss this further.
  • Additional money in the Crowdfunding platform to enable grants for local community organisations that are responding to the pandemic
  • Introducing free parking for NHS staff, social care staff and other key workers in the borough.

You can find all the latest information about coronavirus and the support available at lambeth.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

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