Opinion: Covid expected to cost council £61m

PUBLISHED: 08:30 18 July 2020

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: R Fiaz

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: R Fiaz

Rokhsana Fiaz

I hope you are keeping well and safe as more lockdown restrictions are loosened.

While Newham was tragically hardest hit by Covid-19 in the early days, following lockdown and the sacrifices you have all made, together with the courageous service of our key and frontline workers, we have seen the tide turn, but we are not done with this virus yet.

This week the council is discussing a report on the financial impact to us of dealing with Covid-19 in Newham, which is estimated at £61m.

So far, we have received just £20.3m from the government.

While anything we get is welcome, it’s well short of what’s needed.

That’s why I continue to ask the government for extra support in the form of a Covid-19 Deprivation Premium for those areas who have borne the brunt of the pain the pandemic unleashed.

Some councils face running out of money. Newham is not one of those.

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Thanks to our good work in March to agree a three-year budget which offered stability and a clear framework to make residents’ lives better, we are in a good place to begin the hard work on realigning and redefining our financial planning in line with our recovery from Covid-19.

Whatever decisions we make, we will continue to address poverty and inequality through community wealth building and inclusive economy strategies, keep young people safe, build much needed homes and tackle the worst levels of air pollution in the country.

Our Climate Emergency Action Plan will also ensure that our plans are rooted in the commitment to make this a green recovery.

There have been concerns from local businesses about measures to create more space on our high streets for the safety of residents.

Creating more space to enable residents to shop at a safe social distance is a requirement placed on us by the government to prevent local Covid-19 outbreaks.

It is driven by a public health imperative to prevent the transmission of the virus and more deaths.

Please continue to play your part in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Let’s all work together to act responsibly for the benefit of our community.

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