Kingston Chamber of Commerce Q&A

On Monday, Kingston Chamber CEO and the Leader and CEO of Kingston Council discussed a range of issues including local business and business support issues, policing, cams and mental health.

The full session is available to watch online

The times of the specific discussions are below:

  • Supporting volunteering locally (8m50s)
  • Mental wellbeing for employees going forward (12m 25s)
  • Business Rate Grants (18m40s) and Top Up grants (22m12s)
  • Deferring payments on license fees (24m)
  • The future of IT and manufacturing businesses in Kingston (32m38s)
  • Working with landlords and Kingston First to support town centres(37m20s)

Some of the topics discussed included supporting volunteers, mental wellbeing for employees moving forward, business grants, as well as the future of businesses and Kingston’s town centre. 

Councillor Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, said that Kingston has shown huge community spirit during these times, and that Kingston Hospital is coping well.

“The peak appears to have passed and we are moving onto another stage stage now - we know that when we were in the real crisis moment, most of the other activities were not happening within the hospital that normally the NHS would be dealing with. We are now in a position that we need to make sure that all of the other conditions that would usually cope with, now need to be looked after in the hospital. The New Victoria Hospital has been working flat out on non-COVID-19 treatment. We are now moving into the stage where Kingston Hospital needs to cope with COVID-19 and also start to get back to business as usual.

“The business sector has been really generous in terms of their donations such as donating to food banks and hot meal service for vulnerable people. We need to make sure that food supplies are still coming through, through the local distribution centre and the food bank. Businesses can still help by donating non-perishable food supplies.”

85% of the available grants have been paid out so far. That’s £25.3m that has been issued to 1,741 rate payers. Kingston Council has worked quickly to design a system so that we could pay out grants and obtain bank details, ensuring that we balance efficiency with responsibility to check that claims are genuine, putting Kingston above the London and national average. Any eligible business should come forward and apply. If organisations do want their application reviewed they can email [email protected]

Another key concern coming out of the COVID-19 crisis is mental health and emotional wellbeing, both for staff and for the wider community and we have an amazing number of volunteers that have helped with our buddying service. 

Ian Thomas, CEO at Kingston Council, said:

“The crisis will affect people in different ways. Young people coming to terms with their exam results. People going stir crazy during lockdown! Going forward I think we will see more people struggle in different ways and we will see more evidence of this. The economic recession looks inevitable now and people will struggle. 

“The council will work with partners to create new service provision. Social prescribing will be part of that to ensure that people have support. Our new 800 community volunteers will be incredibly important as we are in for the long haul.”

“Going forward I think new practices and ways of working will remain particularly the way the council and other organisations engage online. Tech industries must be up there with the industries that will survive and build following the pandemic. It will be critical as part of our renewal phase that we harness all of the benefits that digital and online services have to offer.”

To listen to the full podcast, including topics like the future and importance of IT, supporting local businesses, retail and the university, as well as what can we learn from the successes and failures from the response to COVID-19 so far, visit the Kingston Chamber of Commerce website.