CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

New rent deal given to suffering voluntary groups

Organisations welcomed the news but said it might not be enough for "financially fragile" groups

03 July, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

BAME group Hopscotch says more help is needed

VOLUNTARY and community organisations in council properties have had their rent slashed in half for the second quarter of the year, but some groups say it still might not be enough to save them.

The Town Hall this week granted a 50 per cent waiver and offered a deferral of the remaining 50 per cent payment, which they would then have to pay back in small amounts over time.

The decision comes after community centres and charities told the New Journal last month that without an extension of a rent holiday deal they may not be able to survive.

In an email from the head of community services at Camden Council, groups were told: “We recognise that the scale of this financial challenge is significant and we will work with organisations to address the individual circumstances each face to help wherever we can.

“We would encourage any organisation who may struggle with their rent to contact us.”

Foyezur Miah, chief exec at the Queen’s Crescent Community Association welcomed the news but added: “Camden Council have obviously thought through what they can do carefully and I’m grateful for it but it would’ve been nice to have the rent fully waived.

“Deferment might be useful for organisations with immediate cash flow problems but it’s still a liability that would be hanging over them for the rest of the year.”

Head of BAME women’s organisation Hopscotch Benaifer Bhandari said the group is in a “financially fragile position”.

“It makes no difference to us whether we pay 50 per cent now or down the line because we don’t have the money,” Ms Bhandari said.

“My understanding is the council did think long and hard about this decision and they are aware of our situation. We think it would’ve been more equitable to receive some sort of funding from the council perhaps in the form of a rent rebate and that would’ve helped everyone.”

Hopscotch is trying to rebuild its services which include live in care, welfare and domestic abuse advice but are in need of male and female care workers.

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