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Jack Hopkins: 'huge challenge to every aspect of life in Lambeth'

Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Laying out Lambeth Council's plans during the coronavirus outbreak, leader Cllr Jack Hopkins said the scale of the pandemic was "unprecedented" and will lead to "major changes in our way of life".

Jack Hopkins: 'huge challenge to every aspect of life in Lambeth'

"In recognition of that, the council has taken a number of important steps," he said.

The council is treating its agency staff as permanent so they will be paid if they are sick or self-isolating.

It has banned all evictions during the pandemic and has urged all housing associations to do the same.

Cllr Hopkins has asked the Government for immediate action to protect the business community "in the face of this unprecedented economic challenge".

"I am pleased that action on business rates and support has been taken.

"We will act quickly to implement this for Lambeth businesses and continue to push the government to support all businesses and workers that are affected," he said.

The council is also working with Lambeth's community groups on expanding support for vulnerable people in the borough.

"Coronavirus is a huge challenge to every aspect of life in Lambeth as elsewhere.

"The council is working extremely hard with our NHS, voluntary sector, businesses and other partners to limit health, social and economic harm to our residents, and to plan for what comes next."

Cllr Hopkins stressed the importance of following the official advice from the Government and Public Health England.

"It is incumbent on all of us to act responsibly, to listen to official guidance and to work to protect our friends and neighbours," he said.

He added the council was trying to minimise disruption to services but was anticipating some over staff absences or advice from the Government.

At the moment, council offices, libraries, and leisure centres are open and waste collection services remain unaffected.

"But this situation is being reviewed on a daily basis and is likely to change," Cllr Hopkins said.

Lambeth schools have started putting materials online and arranging web-based lessons and homework in the wake of the closures.

"The intention is that every pupil will follow their normal timetable, including both lesson time and homework, while working at home.

"Parents have also been reminded not to leave their children with elderly relatives, as these are among the most vulnerable to infection with the coronavirus," Cllr Hopkins said.

The Lambeth Civic Centre is open but people should only attend in person "if absolutely necessary".

"We are prioritising supporting our most vulnerable residents; that includes over 4,000 frail, elderly and disabled people who require care.

"Whilst observing public health advice about limiting social contact we are encouraging residents who are well to get involved with local organisations such as Age UK Lambeth who have a number of volunteering opportunities available.

"We also know food banks need donations of goods and money so please donate if you can.

"There are also a number of local mutual aid and other volunteering groups that people can get involved with.

"We are looking to help support and co-ordinate these efforts, though they are not run by the council.

"These groups are a fantastic example of what makes our borough such a great place to live, and are testament to the levels of solidarity and compassion that exist in our diverse communities.

"While I would encourage all those involved to follow public health advice on avoiding the spread of the virus and safeguarding vulnerable people, I also want to pay tribute to those whose first thought, at a time of great uncertainty and fear, has been how to help their neighbours rather than themselves," Cllr Hopkins said.

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