Following a briefing from the City Council’s Chief Executive on the action being taken to deal with the coronavirus situation, Westminster Labour Group has raised on 8 further areas of concern to safeguard the city’s most vulnerable residents, building on areas of concern raised last weekend.
- Foodbanks – These are providing essential support on the ground to those most in need, but their stocks are dwindling and they need money to buy food direct from suppliers. We believe it would make a huge difference if Westminster Council could provide emergency money to help this vital work.
- Local Support Payments and Discretionary Hardship Payments– we know the Council is looking at this issue but it is absolutely essential that it finds resources to support households in need directly wherever they can, following the example of other Councils who are creating dedicated hardship funds
- Supporting the voluntary sector: (1) Immediate financial support is needed by One Westminster to support for volunteer expenses. (2)Maintaining our organisations – many of our vital local charities currently rent out space to fund their core costs. Without this income many of them are at real risk could go under or have to make redundancies as this funding disappears. The council needs to find options for financial assistance to help them stay afloat and helping our communities at this critical time
- Volunteers– There needs to be clearer information to organisations about how best to use new volunteers being signed up by the Council through its website. Given the ‘hollowed-out’ nature of some local organisations their capacity to absorb volunteers is stretched and may need to be supported
- Housing Solutions Service– Despite welcome action by the Government on preventing evictions many remain at risk of homelessness and will need more support than ever at this time so we are clarity on how it will continue to operate
- Multi-language leaflets– Key information materials need to be translated into the languages that are needed (particularly for older residents), not only Arabic and Bengali but other major languages spoken by residents.
- Ongoing support for rough sleepers– Welcome measures are being put in place to support rough sleepers who contract Covid-19 inside with dedicated support. However, we are keen to ensure there is the necessary support in place to give them a pathway off the streets rather returning them to rough sleeping at the end of self-isolation
- Youth Activities and public protection– Given the unique pressures and pending school closures the council needs to be planning and working with partners to respond to the risk of a surge in ASB and serious youth violence and the council needs to work with youth clubs, its sports unit and others to provide unique forms of support for young people over the coming months.
Councillor Adam Hug, Leader of Westminster Labour Group, said:
“We absolutely appreciate the unprecedented nature of the pressures the Council faces in responding to the many challenges of the Covid-19 epidemic. We give our full support to the action currently being taken, but believe these further steps need to be taken to safeguard the most vulnerable.”