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Economic impact of coronavirus on Hounslow could be ‘catastrophic’ without urgent action, Council warns

Without a major programme of investment, reform and collaboration the looming economic impact could be “catastrophic” without urgent action, Council warns.

Published: Wednesday, 10th June 2020

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The way Hounslow Council and its communities pulled together to support the borough through coronavirus has been “inspiring”, but without a major programme of investment, reform and collaboration the looming economic impact could be “catastrophic”.

That was the warning given during a meeting of the Cabinet last night, which was streamed publicly online.

Members reviewed how the borough had been impacted by coronavirus; how the Council had responded in supporting residents – particularly the vulnerable – and businesses, while keeping vital frontline services going; and how local organisations, businesses and hundreds of volunteers had come together in the joint effort.

However, the report into the Council’s response and recovery also spelled out the major economic and social impact which could unfold over the coming months if the Council, partners, businesses, wider community and national government don’t all work together now on protecting and supporting the borough.

It is projected that Hounslow will be the second hardest hit borough in London, with a 40 per cent drop in economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs at risk because of its close links with the aviation industry. The financial impact of coronavirus on the Council itself is about £29 million - £15 million of additional costs and £14 million projected loss in income.

Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “I’m immensely proud of how the Council has led Hounslow through this crisis, and it’s been so inspiring seeing our communities come together to support each other. It’s been a real joint effort of so many individuals, organisations and businesses; we’ve really seen the best of the borough.

“However, there are still some very tough months ahead, and the Council is now focusing on leading the borough through the recovery. But, we can’t do it alone. We’re going to be one of the hardest hit boroughs economically, with tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and without a without a major programme of investment, reform and collaboration, the impact on our residents could be catastrophic.

“We need to bring the borough together, to galvanise communities, local organisations, businesses and partners to rise to the challenge. It will also take a regional effort, with neighbouring boroughs working together. We also need the Government to provide the necessary financial measures, investment and policy freedom. It’s not about handouts, but we need the tools and partnership working to provide local solutions and capture opportunities to support and empower our communities.

“The voice of our residents, businesses and community groups will be essential. We need to hear from as many people as possible, to find out what they need or how they can help, and we will be stepping up our efforts on engagement. There’s no doubt things will be tough, but I have so much faith in the people of Hounslow and believe we will make the best of it and be stronger for it.”

The Cabinet resolved to establish a new Hounslow Recovery Programme Board to lead on how it supports the borough. It will be underpinned by boards covering economy, community, environment, and health and wellbeing, on which will be representatives from partner organisations, community groups and businesses. Projects include a piece of work to understand the impact of coronavirus and lockdown on BAME communities, and to explore how the Council can better support them through the growing economic impact.

It also resolved to continue to call on the Government for the financial measures, investment and policy freedoms needed to protect, support and empower its communities; and to collaborate with neighbouring boroughs through the West London Alliance.

Councillors thanked the emergency services, NHS, business and voluntary and community organisations in the borough for their ongoing help, dedication and support to the community.

The Cabinet report detailed many examples of the work of the Council in supporting its residents over the past few months, including:

  • Established, in less than two weeks, a Community Hub to support 22,500 shielded residents and thousands more vulnerable residents. This has so far distributed about 6,000 food packages and a range of other support.
  • Made over 30,000 additional home visits, checking people were safe.
  • Used local knowledge to procure PPE in order to provide tens of thousands of items each week to 45 different care providers.
  • Given financial advice to scores of council tenants.
  • Distributed over £630,000 of coronavirus hardship funding to more than 4,200 residents in receipt of Council Tax support.
  • Supported 900 local volunteers who wanted to get involved in their community.
  • Provided 30 minutes of free parking to all volunteers who are supporting coronavirus response – one of the most generous schemes in London.
  • Helped schools across the borough to continue educating pupils.
  • Refocused our community grant funds to support organisations to meet urgent need.
  • Provided over 1,000 extra parking permits for health and care workers.
  • Adapted waste fleet to keep crews safe, whilst gathering 6% more waste and recycling and ensuring 99.8% collections took place.
  • Redesigned public spaces and parks to keep people safe and active.
  • Distributed more than £30 million in grants to more than 2,000 local businesses.
  • Given dozens businesses coronavirus advice and guidance.
  • Provided financial security to care providers, ensuring care workers benefitted from a higher London Living Wage and people in need of care received support.
  • Housed over 150 street homeless people and supported those who do not have self-contained accommodation.

A recording of the Cabinet meeting is available on the Council’s YouTube channel

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