Mayor agrees £10.5m Covid-19 fund

oldguy

older residents set to benefit from the fund

Mayor John Biggs has established a new £10.5 million fund using money received from a government fund of £1.6 billion announced on 19 March that will support local authorities with some of the cost of supporting residents, businesses and local organisations tackling the impact of coronavirus. Councils are able to make their own decisions about how the funding is distributed locally.

A new service investment fund (SIF) is the latest in the council’s response to coronavirus and will focus on supporting vulnerable residents and those badly affected by a sudden loss in income. Providing extra money to support vulnerable people who may also have limited social and family networks will make up much of the funding, with further funding for others including rough sleepers and other homeless people.

The fund aims to:

  • Meet the increased demand for adult social care and enable the council to provide additional support to social care providers.
  • Meet the cost of extra demand and higher business as usual costs of providing children’s social care.
  • Provide additional support for the homeless and rough sleepers, including where self-isolation is needed.
  • Support those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, who have been asked to self-isolate in their homes for the duration of the pandemic.
  • Meet pressures across other services, as a result of reduced income, rising costs or increased demand.

 John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “This fund is vital in supporting residents in our borough from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why we will continue to do all we can to support our most vulnerable and isolated residents, and those suffering from serious financial hardship.

 “We will ensure this extra funding helps our residents and businesses and will continue to work with our partners and people from our community. Together we are all focused on helping people who are struggling.

 “This new fund adds to the significant range of assistance we are already providing so we support our borough through this challenging period. The financial support from government to date is welcome and given the unprecedented nature of the financial challenge we face, the council will continue to make the case for further funding as the true and lasting impact on residents becomes known.”

A new measure within the fund will allow self-employed people living in the borough to request that their council tax payments are deferred, initially for up to three months. This is in addition to the council’s existing council tax reduction scheme, which continues to run and is currently offering up to a 100% reduction. This is recognised as one of the most generous reduction schemes across London.

Following the government’s budget last month, the council is also receiving £4.38 million from a £500 million hardship fund to help support vulnerable people and households most affected by coronavirus.

The council has already been supporting local businesses affected by COVID-19 by issuing grants directly into their bank accounts so they can get much needed financial support as soon as possible. Further work is ongoing to support businesses that may not currently qualify for government support. All new financial reliefs, discounts, grants and reductions will be applied to all council accounts for both residents and businesses throughout the borough.

We are introducing a more flexible approach to income collection and enforcement to residents, businesses and other customers. It will continue to inform and update residents and businesses about new and existing financial support including discounts, grants and reductions available to them.

The council is also working closely with local community groups and others on its plans to help people who are vulnerable and isolated and need support including food deliveries or because of financial hardship. These plans are also providing a way for others to come forward and volunteer their time with practical help for the wider community.

We work closely with the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in the borough and many of them are supporting people who need extra help. Many VCS groups are themselves facing financial hardship. Therefore, in addition to the recent government announcement of extra support for the sector, the council is helping with funding and providing cash flow options so that local community organisations have the funds in place to deliver key services.

To help support this vital work we are letting people know how they can get involved.

Residents are encouraged to keep up to date with the latest information, advice and details of the wide range of support available on the council’s dedicated coronavirus webpage: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/coronavirus  

We recognise that the COVID-19 response will cause significant additional budget pressures and has recommended that the SIF is allocated as follows:

Adult Social Care £8.0m (£7,948,682)

Place Directorate, including Homelessness £1.0m

Children’s Services £0.5m

Other Services £1.0m

Total £10.5m (£10,448,682)

 The mayor approved the creation of the new fund at a special executive mayor’s decision making meeting held at Tower Hamlets Town Hall on Thursday 9 April. Further information on the SIF is available here.

Posted on Thursday 16th April 2020