Coronavirus: Message from the Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville

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Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
I know all of you will be concerned and anxious about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and I want to reassure you that Hackney Council is doing everything possible to support those affected and play our part in slowing the spread of the virus. 

For all of us, as Hackney residents, it’s unlikely – whatever our age, occupation or background – that any of us have been through a period as disruptive or challenging as this. While we may all have our own personal anxieties and know loved ones or people who are ill or self-isolating, we all have a part to play in making a difference and helping to support our families and the wider community. 

The Council is working very closely with Public Health England, the NHS and other Government agencies to respond to what is clearly a fast-moving situation. Council services are currently operating as usual, and the latest information is available at hackney.gov.uk/coronavirus. This will be updated daily from today.

As a Council, our focus from the start has been health protection and continuing to deliver vital frontline services such as adult and children’s social care, waste collections and support for homeless families. Schools currently, with a few exceptions, remain open and the Hackney Learning Trust is continuing to closely monitor updates to the advice from the Government. If you are a parent, you should check with your child’s school if you are concerned.

It is absolutely essential that we all follow the advice of public health professionals and do all we can to protect those who are vulnerable or at higher risk from the virus. We also recognise our role in communicating what is happening here in Hackney as we work together to support our community through this challenging time.

It’s been inspiring to see the community spirit and response of so many residents and voluntary groups in Hackney, who are rightly concerned about how those who are self-isolating or will soon need to – especially those who are elderly, disabled or have conditions that put them at risk – will get basic supplies and the help they need. 

Responding to this crisis will require a borough-wide effort and the can-do spirit of solidarity, innovation and ingenuity that Hackney is renowned for. It’s also important that this is coordinated and that everyone stepping forward to help respects each other and follows public health advice – avoiding inadvertently putting people at risk. 

That’s why yesterday I announced a new group – led by members of my Cabinet and senior Council officers – to support volunteer and citizen efforts as best we can. The first job of that group will be to work with the established voluntary and community sector in Hackney to ensure that everyone is working together – and that residents who want to help have a place to go to offer their support. We have already been in touch with the voluntary and community groups that we fund to lift restrictions from the way they spend the money we already invest freeing up funding to support this crisis and making it easier for organisations to work together and with active citizens. It will also help these organisations to be more resilient.

One thing is clear – this situation will likely continue for months, and it’s vital that any measures we take are sustainable for the long-term. We will announce more details in the coming days and are actively exploring some of the ideas that you have already shared. 

The Government has announced that additional financial support will be available for those who are most vulnerable both in the community and the local businesses that sustain our diverse local economy. As soon as we know more, we will communicate this and encourage people to apply. In the meantime, I would encourage all residents who have experienced a loss of income to apply for Universal Credit. This benefit can take many weeks to come through, so it is worth making a claim as early as possible. Below are the advice pages on the Council website that can explain how the Council’s current support works.

The Chancellor has also announced support and relief for small businesses, which we will also communicate once more details are available. You can find out more about this on our website, and by signing up to receive updates from the Hackney Business Network, which has already sent the latest information we have to its members. If you are a business owner or know someone who is struggling please ask them to sign up and complete our feedback form on how the pandemic is affecting them. This will help us better understand the challenges they face and shape how we respond, as well as how we challenge the Government to do more. We also know that many people are worried about their jobs or have already received bad news, and they will also need major nationally-led support from the Government.

Our website also lists all the usual support available for residents on low incomes who may be experiencing hardship:

- Apply to the Council’s Discretionary Crisis Support Scheme for help with urgent financial needs
- Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you’re having difficulty paying your rent
Check if you’re eligible for Housing Benefit or a reduction in your Council Tax

We are very conscious that information and advice will continue to change quickly. We published the latest position in the last issue of Hackney Today and we will be issuing regular updates on our website and through all Council communications channels. Sign up for our email newsletter and encourage your friends and family to sign up too. 

I will continue to provide regular updates alongside the other information that the Council provides, as we work together to maintain services and represent Hackney through the days, weeks and months ahead.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney