Kingston Chamber’s CEO and Kingston Council’s leader, and CEO, discussed a range of issues including local business and business support on a live podcast.

Chamber CEO, Forbes Low, was joined by Council Leader, Caroline Kerr and CEO, Ian Thomas CBE, for a zoom conversation to discuss the topics and to answer questions from businesses.

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)

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 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,” she explained.  “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.”

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

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 an amazing number of volunteers have helped with the council’s 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.”