Monday 30 March 2020 5:10 am

These are difficult times — but London is strong, and the City will get through this

If this crisis has shown us anything, it is that the Square Mile really can keep calm and carry on in the face of adversity.

In just over a week, the majority of the City’s half a million employees have adapted to working at home remarkably quickly, thanks to technology such as video conferencing, and selfless key workers who keep our country running.

We continue to urge everybody to follow the government’s instructions on avoiding travel unless absolutely necessary, and on social distancing — including in our wonderful open spaces, where we have seen some worrying behaviour.

But while we have managed to adapt on the whole, I know millions of others across London will be struggling, many of whom live or work in the Square Mile. That is we are making sure we are doing everything we can to support the City, to help residents, employees and businesses, and also doing what we can to work with the financial system as a whole to get through these enormously challenging times.

Difficult decisions have already been made to close the majority of our public facing services, but where we can we have tried to keep our green spaces open for people needing exercise and fresh air.

Those living in the City can rest assured we will maintain critical functions and services for our communities, support our vulnerable friends and neighbours, and work with all front-line agencies to deal with this crisis.  We are also helping vital community and voluntary organisations through our charitable arm the City Bridge Trust, which has pledged £1m to a new emergency support fund also supported by mayor of London Sadiq Khan and investor group London Funders.

We also understand that many businesses here will be under pressure because of these measures, and we are working hard to help. We have changed rental payments to monthly billing for directly managed premises, in order to help cashflow for smaller business tenants. We are also deferring one quarter’s rent for a range of tenants who re struggling, with no interest charged on the late payment.

And, equally importantly, we are working to make sure that measures including grant funding outlined by the government reach those affected as quickly as possible.

Of course, it is important that the City Corporation also continues to support the UK economy during these difficult times, and that is why we are sustaining our work on long-term competitiveness, especially in areas like climate change and fintech. And we will be speeding the recovery so we are ready, whenever the moment comes, to relaunch a full and strong economy.

These are of course difficult, and perhaps unhappy times, for residents, workers, businesses and visitors. But the fundamental strengths of London are solid, and will help us to rebuild, as we have done countless times before in the face of fires, plagues and wars.

We are all in this together and will rise to the challenge by working as one. My message to the City is this: continue to keep calm, carry on, and most importantly, keep at home to stay safe, protect the NHS and save lives.

Main image credit: Getty

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