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Council launches new report setting out economic support during Covid-19

Munch Breaks at Canvas Cafe -8 for web

Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Leila Dansie and Sophia Mohamed outside the Canvas Cafe

In a new report launched today, Tower Hamlets Council has revealed the scale of support it has offered to the local economy throughout the course of the pandemic.

The report also warns that the extent of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Tower Hamlets local economy will only be fully known in the next few years.

The Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on nearly all residents and local businesses in the borough, but wide-ranging support from the council has been available during the past 18 months to support businesses during the crisis, to help them get back on their feet, and to limit the damage to the local economy.

The report, being heard by the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday (27 October), will reveal that during the pandemic:

  • Over 900 local people have been supported into work or better employment through Workpath, Kickstart, Job Entry Targeted Support scheme and the Creative Enterprise Zones Skills Programme.
  • Tower Hamlets, working with local businesses, has secured funding for a total of 550 Kickstart placements, one of the highest of any local authority, with 33 Living Wage placements within the council itself.
  • Over £200m has been distributed in grants and rate relief to over 5,000 local businesses.
  • A three-month rent relief programme, worth £98,210, was granted to support local community-based organisations who lease council premises.
  • 598 businesses benefitted from free, online, expert-led advice and guidance seminars.
  • Pivot Programme: A project aimed at small and micro businesses struggling in the current climate, providing the support they need to ‘pivot’ and survive. The package includes advice and equipment of up to £1,000 per applicant. Over 50 businesses were supported in the first wave. Owing to its popularity, a second expanded wave, aimed at 150 more businesses was approved for delivery in 2021.
  • A creative freelancer project supported 60 small businesses.
  • Teams provided Covid-safe market support and outdoor dining spaces developed at Middlesex Street, Brick Lane, Whitby Street, Brushfield Street, Boundary Street, Roman Road East for local hospitality businesses and invested in new shop fronts at Roman Road West.
  • We have supported businesses to sign up to the ‘Pay It Forward London’ fundraising campaign for small businesses facing hardship as a result of Covid-19. A total of £342,000 has been raised for 120 Tower Hamlets businesses so far.
  • In partnership with WorkPath, we delivered 51 courses in English and Maths, with a total of 380 enrolments. In addition, 97 per cent of our ESOL learners passed.
  • Offered advice and support to businesses on how to reopen safely and encouraged customers to return safely through a ‘Welcome back’ campaign.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“Throughout the pandemic the council has worked hard to support the local economy. From helping 900 local people find work or better employment to supporting our local businesses by distributing millions of pounds worth of grants and providing access to individual business advice.

“It’s fantastic to see the difference we’ve been able to make. It doesn’t end here, and we will continue to support our local businesses to get back on their feet.”

As part of its ongoing support for local businesses, this month the council launched the ‘Go For It’ scheme for Tower Hamlets residents to help them develop their own business.

The scheme is open to any resident in the borough, particularly local women, and offers them the chance to develop their idea and test trade on a local street market.

The scheme helps residents develop their business idea, plan market research, develop a marketing and sales pitch, learn about customer service and how to manage cash flow and finance. It is funded by Tower Hamlets Council and Tower Hamlets Homes.

It was launched by Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman and Lady Lane Kitchen, who have had support from the scheme to run an evening pop-up at The Canvas Café, Hanbury Street, throughout October.

Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Work, Economic Growth and Faith, said:

“I was thrilled to launch our latest support – the Go For It start up fund – with the Lady Lane Kitchen. The East End has a strong tradition on entrepreneurship and as a council we are here to support businesses thrive by giving people the tools they need to succeed.’’

Lady Lane Kitchen grew out of Lady Lane Market, London’s first women-led market that was held on Fridays at Petticoat Lane market before the pandemic. They are Amiira Ismail, Leila Dansie, Woin Tegegn, Sophia Mohamed, Syeda Hussain and Hosna Begum.

Unable to trade through the pandemic, the ladies were put in touch with The Canvas Café by the council’s High Streets Team. Ruth Rogers, owner of The Canvas Café, heard their story and wanted to help them bounce back.

Leila Dansie said:

I would definitely say the network and council support has helped us immensely and given us the confidence that we can go into other avenues, not just with our immediate communities. When you start a new business you usually go through your neighbours or immediate people, we now have, due to collaborating with The Canvas Café as Lady Lane Kitchen, we have been given the chance to broaden our networks.”

Read the Economic Support report on our website.

If you want to find out more about the Go For It scheme, go to www.goforittowerhamlets.uk

If you have a business in Tower Hamlets and want to get support or advice, email towncentres@towerhamlets.gov.uk 
Posted on Tuesday 26th October 2021