Residents are being asked for suggestions for how to spend an £8m Covid recovery fund in London’s smallest borough to help people weather the pandemic storm.
Kensington and Chelsea has an image as one of the wealthiest areas in the country with some homes fetching eye-watering prices.
But it also has areas of deprivation and one in three people work in the “lockdown sectors” of retail, food and accommodation, which have been hard hit by the pandemic. It has London’s biggest cluster of jobs in food and accommodation.
Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said she wants to hear from people about the best ways to spend the money.
She said the £8m fund aims to help the council respond “sensitively and sensibly” to support the community which “has suffered a very grievous time.”
“It’s really asking people what will help them. We’re not the purveyors of all knowledge.
“It’s for everyone.”
She wants to hear what people think would help prevent more pain from Covid as well as ways to solve problems.
According to a council report, 10 per cent of workers in the borough were furloughed in the first six months of the pandemic in the UK.
The borough is home to some of the world’s most popular museums, including the Natural History, V&A and Science museums in South Kensington which attracts millions of overseas tourists a year. It is thought overseas tourism will take a while to recover.
And there’s been a 120 per cent increase in the number of claimants of Universal Credit from 4,869 people in March last year when the lockdown started and November, when 10,717 received the benefit.
People in North Kensington, Earl’s Court and Riverside have been hard hit and Dr Quirk said: “There’s many many people who have been claiming universal credit for the first time.”
He added: “People who live locally and work locally are really affected, despite job support measures.”
He said the 16 to 24-year-olds have been hard hit, with 1,300 of them claiming Universal Credit, compared with 390 back in June 2019.
Dr Quirk said: “We are seeing the impact, particularly on the shutdown sectors, the particular impact on young people, on people of ethnic minority, Black, Asian and other minority backgrounds, women in employment as well.
“Although it’s often talked about it’s impact on everyone, in the same way, at the same rate, there are disparities in how it’s impacting people in health terms as well as how it’s affecting people in economic terms.”
The council is publishing a state of the borough report of data laying bare how the crisis has hit Kensington and Chelsea later this week.