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Lewisham council outlines coronavirus recovery plan

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

More than 300 people have died with Covid-19 in Lambeth.

Office for National Statistics figures say 275 had died from the virus in Lambeth up to May 29, and a further 43 were recorded in the fortnight that followed – 318 in all.

Lewisham had the 11th highest number of deaths from Covid-19 of all 33 London boroughs, but the fourth lowest in care homes.

Presenting the report at the council’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, council chief executive Kim Wright said Lewisham had a three-phase recovery plan – exiting lockdown, transition, and ‘reinvention’.

She said: “The third phase, we’re calling reinvention, is the opportunity for us to think again about our services, our approaches and what it is that we’re able to do differently, making sure we’re responding always to the possibility of a further wave of Covid.”

Exiting lockdown was front from May to June, the aims of which include supporting staff, protecting critical services, and minimising the spread of infection.

The transition phase is expected to run from July to December and will focus on consultation and assessment of the effect of Covid-19 on the borough.

The report added: “There will need to be an extensive borough-wide impact assessment with residents, members, partners and local businesses in order to build an evidence base to inform policy and decision making.

“This phase will focus on inequalities, analysing the various impacts of Covid-19 on those with protected characteristics to ensure that council services and local partnerships are working to shared objectives and are fit to tackle inequalities in a post-Covid Lewisham.”

Phase two will also focus on stabilising the council’s finances and service delivery for the short term, “while beginning to plan for the longer-term sustainability and stability of the organisation”.

The reinvention phase, set to run from autumn onwards, will take the findings from phase two to inform how services are run in future.

Committee members raised the importance of communications from the council, ensuring that residents were kept up to date with the work being done to protect them, as well as the need to keep collaboration with other sectors going.

Members asked if the emergency changes to roads and footways would be reviewed after the Government’s announcement it would reduce the two-metre distance rule to one metre, which was confirmed by officers.

Cllr Jim Mallory asked for backing to protect people in community centres as lockdown eases.

Cllr Luke Sorba, chair of the children’s and young people select committee, asked about food poverty and free school meal vouchers, how children with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) would be supported, and how catching up on school work would be facilitated given the school holidays were approaching.

The chief executive said: “The vouchers as things stand will be via the existing system, we’ve got just over 11,500 pupils who are eligible for free school meals.

“We’re also working with Lewisham Local to support families in need of food deliveries throughout the summer, we’re still working out what that might look like for families with NRPF.”

Lewisham permanently housed 38 rough sleepers during the Covid-19 pandemic, it emerged.

A further 138 have been put in temporary accommodation.

 

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