This country is at war. With an enemy we cannot see, and with an enemy that makes no distinction between its victims and the people it impacts.
We are all battling together – at home, in our jobs, with our families and friends.
Frontline workers right across the public sector, from NHS and social care workers to the refuse collectors and delivery drivers, are stepping up and doing all they can to keep the country going and provide us with the services we all need.
Local government has shown in the last few weeks how flexible and agile it can be. Especially when it comes to business support.
In Kensington and Chelsea, like many other councils, we are breaking down bureaucratic barriers and we have thrown out the life ring to businesses at the earliest possible opportunity. We have already put in place suspensions on invoices for services and rents, and business rate holidays are kicking in in to help 2,700 businesses across the borough – including the major employers in hospitality, retail and leisure – and of course, our pubs.
Councils like ours are not waiting for the coffers to fill up before lending a hand. We are distributing grants and hardship funds quickly and prioritising those who really need it.
We continue to put our trust in Government - the money will trickle down to us all eventually, but we are not waiting for it to arrive. In Kensington and Chelsea, we are providing an extra £500,000 safety net for sole traders and small businesses. This will be an extra lifeline for those businesses that cannot get access to government support.
Business owners, their workers, and their customers cannot wait, and cannot catch up later. They need the support and help right now. In total we expect that £41m in support will go out the door in the weeks ahead. I’m pleased to say that £5m of this is already landing in the bank accounts of our local businesses.
The capital is the hardest hit area in the UK, and that is why it is crucial that we all join together and continue to help each other and share resources wherever we can. I’m pleased to support the emerging London Together campaign and I think local authorities will continue to play a leading role in helping and supporting communities.
We are doing and must continue to do everything we can to support businesses. Businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities and the lifeblood of our great city.
Cllr Elizabeth Campbell is leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council