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View from the House: We can build a better, greener community

PUBLISHED: 08:30 08 August 2020

Stephen Timms is positive for  Newham's future post-pandemic, with some government help.

Stephen Timms is positive for Newham's future post-pandemic, with some government help.

Archant

As lockdown restrictions ease, we should reflect on the lessons of the past few months.

The pandemic has highlighted existing inequalities, as our borough has been disproportionately hit.

Ethnic minority residents have faced barriers to access key services. BAME mortality has been higher.

People in overcrowded housing have been unable to socially distance and stay safe. Families with No Recourse to Public Funds have found themselves with no social security safety net at all.

Churches, mosques and ad hoc community groups have done an extraordinary job to provide support.

Times of crisis, and subsequent recovery, also present unique opportunities for change.

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I was encouraged this week to meet online with members of Fossil Free Newham.

We discussed their hopes for a recovery from the pandemic that reduces social inequality. They explained the key aims of the Build Back Better Campaign: a fairer, greener and more resilient society.

The campaign wants to make sure that steps we take now towards recovery from the pandemic also serve to help us fight climate change, create new jobs and ensure good public services for all.

In this vein, I welcome measures such as the Green Homes Grant announced recently.

Government grants towards environmentally friendly home modifications will support job creation and lower emissions, and save on energy bills. Much more of this kind of imaginative thinking will be needed as we seek to rebuild a better society.

Local authorities will also need to be well-resourced to deliver climate-friendly measures for recovery from coronavirus. The government must honour its initial commitment to fully fund Local Authorities so they can carry out their vital work.

We face a big challenge as we emerge from this harrowing time. We must take this opportunity to imagine a fairer, greener community, and then work together to achieve it.


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