This is an update on the City of London’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic from your local Ward of Cheap team: Alderman Robert Hughes-Penney, Common Councillors Alastair Moss, Nick Bensted-Smith and Tijs Broeke.
These are unprecedented times and there will be anxiety across the City – at a personal as well as a business level. But we have seen difficult times before and have come through them by working together. We want residents, workers and visitors to the City of London to know we at the City Corporation will do everything we can to help.
Coronavirus is a huge challenge to every aspect of life in the City and beyond. The City Corporation and our incredible staff are working extremely hard with together with our NHS, voluntary sector, businesses, and other partners to limit health, social and economic impact to our residents and our businesses, to support pan-London response efforts, and to plan for what comes next to support our vibrant, thriving, dynamic and diverse City.
Honouring Captain Moore
The first ever Freedom of the City of London ceremony to be conducted ‘virtually’ will take place on Tuesday (12 May) at 10.30am for Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old Second World War veteran who raised nearly £33 million for the NHS.
The ceremony, which is usually held at Guildhall for invited guests only, will be conducted via Microsoft Teams and streamed on the City of London Corporation’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0DhZsmH39M
Captain Moore has been granted the Freedom of the City of London by Special Nomination in recognition of his outstanding charitable work.
Planning for what comes next – what are your priorities?
As the government has published its roadmap today, we are keen to get your thoughts about what your priorities are as City worker, resident, or business owner in the Square Mile. We are planning to schedule a Zoom meeting to discuss your views later this month. If you would be interested to join please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime we know that transport is one of the important things to get right. Our ward colleague Alastair Moss is leading the City’s response as Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee, working closely with TfL to get London moving and working again, safely and sustainably, as quickly as possible. TfL is asking businesses to fill in a short survey (3-5 minutes) before Thursday 14 May at 5pm: https://bit.ly/2yK9kDu
The findings from this research will inform the ways that we can best support the business community to restart and recover from the Coronavirus crisis.
Delivering food and supplies for vulnerable people
Coronavirus requires an unprecedented effort from us all – and local residents have stepped up to deliver that within the Square Mile organising food and supplies for vulnerable residents. Many of those people had no food left in their houses due to having to stay at home and having no support network to bring food to them. In times of crisis we pull together.
The Coronavirus is testing us all in ways we could not have imagined but the strong partnerships and networks the City of London has fostered and nurtured over years are standing strong. But we know that this effort needs to be sustained for a period of many weeks – and we need to harness the energy of our community to help those in need across London.
Supporting workers and businesses
The City of London is mobilising all its resources to deliver essential services. This has meant reducing some services in line with Government advice and redeploying staff to other areas for example supporting pan-London emergency efforts.
As your local representatives, we have strongly urged the City Corporation to support businesses in the Square Mile.
Whilst we welcome government announcements on support, we need to ensure that support is rolled out as quickly as possible. This is a time of great anxiety for workers and businesses – and we will continue to do all in our power to help our community through this.
This support includes:
- Business rates relief and grants for small businesses. The government has announced retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will not need to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. The City Corporation will be applying this automatically to businesses in the City of London
- A grant scheme has also been announced by central government to assist Small Businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000. The two schemes are detailed below. Further information is available on our Business Rates page
- Rental relief for City of London businesses. The City of London Corporation has agreed to defer one quarter’s rent for a range of tenants struggling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Fuller details can be found in the press release: Square Mile businesses offered additional rental relief
- Parking. The City of London has introduced changes to parking in the Square Mile until further notice
Helping homeless people off the streets
As deputy chair of the Homeless and Rough Sleeping Committee, our Ward Councillor Tijs Broeke has supported the adjustment of our services for homeless people in the City in recent weeks, investing more money to keep them safe.
The City Corporation has opened up a youth hostel on Carter Lane to provide a safe place for homeless people in the Square Mile. The YHA hostel has been converted to a 20-bed hostel to give the City’s most vulnerable population a place to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic at least until the end of July. The hostel will be staffed 24/7 in line with social distancing guidance and alcohol and drug support services will be available to those that are in the hostel, as well as hot meals and showers to those living there.
Supporting relief efforts around COVID-19
If you want to support relief efforts across London as a business you can do so through the London Communities Response Fund, which is being convened by London Funders. This fund is being supported by the City of London’s charitable arm, The City Bridge Trust, which has donated £1m to the fund together with a further £1m from the Greater London Authority. If you are interested in contributing to this fund, please email London Funders.
If you would like to donate as an individual or business to The Lord Mayor’s Appeal which supports Samaritans, Place2Be, Onside Youth Zones and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, all of whom will be very actively working to support their service users in this challenging time, please contact the Lord Mayor’s Appeal team.
If you are an individual and wish to volunteer please link to the GLA’s Team London website.
We are blessed with two amazing churches in our Ward: St Vedast on Foster Lane and St Lawrence Jewry on Gresham Street.
You can follow St Vedast on their Facebook site, which is a place for sharing news and prayer requests. The Rev’d Paul Kennedy is also streaming services on his personal Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paulalankennedy. Paul is happy to accept friend requests. For more personal times they are using Zoom.
And you can connect with St Lawrence Jewry via their YouTube channel, Facebook page as well as Twitter https://twitter.com/StLawrenceJewry which allows you to follow everything the Rev’d Canon David Parrott is up to!
We’ll meet again
London will always be one of the world’s leading financial and professional services centres, a city of global talent with a highly-skilled workforce and more international HQs than any other European city, with thousands of large and small businesses, great cultural attractions and a vibrant nightlife.
Our City has come through difficult times in the past and we know that together, we will do so again. We will return to being a city with a vibrant, social and cultural backdrop.