Lambeth was left off the list of London Boroughs invited by government to bid for funding to communicate with communities most at risk from Covid-19 around the importance of vaccinations, despite being one of the most diverse areas in the country.
Lambeth Leader, Cllr Jack Hopkins, and Lambeth Health and Social Care Lead, Cllr Jim Dickson, today wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP to call for another immediate round of funding open to all London boroughs to bid for in an open process so that no part of our city is left without the support we need to continue the vital work we are doing to protect our most at risk communities.
Over 7 million people have now received their first dose of the vaccine in the UK, but the numbers in London remain low compared with other parts of the country. Lambeth was left out of this initiative despite having large Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities which all evidence suggests need more support to access the vaccine and be reassured around the safety and importance of it.
Cllr Jack Hopkins said:
“It is deeply confusing that one of the most diverse boroughs in the entire country was not invited to bid for the vaccine funding, especially at a time when we see significant concern in our communities about vaccine hesitancy – which is what this funding is supposed to be helping to solve.
“We are calling on Robert Jenrick to announce another immediate round of funding, open to all London boroughs to bid for in an open process. This funding will be vital to the work we are doing to protect our most at-risk communities – and no borough should be left out of receiving this funding because of an arbitrary decision”
Full text of the letter below:
Dear Secretary of State,
We are disappointed that Lambeth was not invited to bid for any of the £23 million funding made available to support local authorities to expand their vital work on vaccinations for communities most at risk from Covid-19.
Tackling the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 has been at the heart of Lambeth’s efforts to support vulnerable residents throughout this crisis. For the last few months, we have worked closely with our partners in the NHS and our community groups on a plan to tackle vaccine hesitancy among our black and ethnic minority residents in particular and to encourage take-up of the vaccine so we can protect people from Covid-19.
This work is resource intensive and requires significant investment and engagement from government to ensure it is effective. This has, so far however, not been forthcoming. We understand boroughs were invited to apply, and even chosen, based on a set of criteria for this limited funding but there has been no transparency about this decision-making approach. It is deeply confusing that one of the most diverse boroughs in the entire country was not invited to bid for it, at a time when we see significant concern in our communities about vaccine hesitancy. The initial figures on the roll-out also indicate that the government’s current strategy is failing to reach some of the groups who are most at risk from Covid-19.
Throughout this crisis, top-down national programmes have failed while local government and local public services have stepped into that gap. We know that our communities want to hear from trusted local voices and all evidence shows that such voices would be the best way to reach those who are vaccine hesitant or as yet not fully informed about it.
We know from other boroughs across London that this arbitrary decision has caused similar concern and we support the calls for another immediate round of funding, open to all boroughs to bid for in an open process, to support councils with the vital work of protecting our most at-risk communities.
Cllr Jack Hopkins
Leader of Lambeth Council
Cllr Jim Dickson
Lambeth Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Social Care