What to do if you're worried about council tax & more coronavirus advice

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Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

You can only leave the house for one of the following reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities – for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • any medical need – or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • travelling to and from work – but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.


  • These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

More NHS advice >

Shielding our vulnerable residents 

Certain groups of people with existing illness and underlying health conditions are considered extremely vulnerable and at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

You may be considered extremely vulnerable if you:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
  • are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
  • are pregnant and have a serious heart condition

If you're at high risk, you will be contacted by the NHS by Sunday 29 March 2020. Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted. If you haven't received a letter by this date, you can discuss any concerns with your GP or a hospital clinician.

How to protect yourself if you're extremely vulnerable:

There are extra things you should do to avoid catching it. These include:

  • not leaving your home – you should not go out to do shopping, pick up medicine or exercise.
  • stay at least two metres (three steps) away from other people in your home – as much as possible.

Ask friends, family or neighbours to pick up shopping and medicines for you. They should leave them outside your door. In general, you should be avoiding any face to face contact with others. 

If you are at high risk, you should take these extra steps for the next 12 weeks.

  • If you need help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food, you can register to get coronavirus support.The council will be helping to coordinate support for residents who are extremely vulnerable. More information will be available in the coming days about local support.

More advice >

Clap for carers

Clap for our carers at 8pm tonight 

Join us from your windows, front doors, balconies and gardens for a round of applause to show your support and appreciation for carers, NHS staff, volunteers, and everyone working so hard to defeat coronavirus.

It's taking place across the UK to say a very big thank you to carers and the NHS!

We'll be celebrating your efforts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so please share your video with us.

Car parking

Local advice and services

Council tax: what to do if your income suddenly stops or reduces

We understand this is a difficult and unusual time, and we're committed to supporting you. We've put together the best steps for you to follow if your income has stopped or reduced, and you're worried about your council tax. Please read on.

If you currently receive housing benefit and/or local council tax reduction: 

If you do not currently receive housing benefit and/or local council tax reduction: 

  1. Check whether you are entitled to universal credit on the government's website, and if so make an online claim.
  2. You should also claim council tax reduction from the council using this link. 
  3. If you are not eligible for universal credit you can claim both housing benefit and council tax reduction from the council using a single application form.

Parking permits for key workers and changes to enforcement

Our parking enforcement teams are working across Tower Hamlets to ensure that our streets are safe, free from obstructions and that highways are kept clear for use by the emergency services.

We know that many NHS staff and other key workers are now commuting by car and may need to rely less on public transport in the weeks ahead. We have so far issued more than 1,300 special permits to those on the front line. 

We also continue to work with businesses to identify and allocate further dedicated parking for key workers. Our parking enforcement teams have been directed to focus their efforts on the areas around hospitals and key sites to keep spaces free for those who need them most. We've also lifted some of our usual resident parking restrictions.

In addition, the government has announced that it will cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during this unprecedented time.

Full details of the changes in Tower Hamlets are available online.

Update on schools in Tower Hamlets

Just to let you know, we're regularly reviewing and updating the information available on our schools webpage in response to queries from teaching staff and parents, and as the education situation evolves.

This includes:

  • Latest news, information and guidance about schools from the UK government and the council.
  • A list of schools that are open to eligible children and those that are closed to all children, updated daily from Monday to Friday during term time.
  • Resources, information and links for parents or carers who have children of school age at home.
  • Information on free school meals for vulnerable children, children of key workers and benefits eligible pupils.

Please be aware of the free school meals email scam:

  • The Department for Education has been informed that some parents have received an email stating: ‘As schools will be closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported’. This is a scam email - do not respond, and delete immediately. Please ensure you are getting information from a trusted source, such as your child's school. You can read about free school meals on the government website.

Read more >

Support for businesses

We understand that coronavirus is having a significant impact on local businesses, and that many businesses and premises have had to close in line with government guidance. Even those that can remain open will be experiencing unprecedented challenges.

To help, we have brought together all the latest information and support for businesses, freelancers and others who are impacted. Our business support page is being regularly updated to reflect the latest advice. We recommend bookmarking it and checking back regularly to make sure you are up to date. Please be assured we are committed to supporting you at this time.  

  • This afternoon (26 March), the government has announced it will give support to millions of self-employed individuals across the UK through cash grants. We will provide more information on this when it is available. 

Arts and events

We appreciate much of this is expected given the current circumstances, however just to let you know officially that the following council events have been cancelled:

  • Brady Club exhibition and events, due to take place from 1 April at the Brady Arts and Community Centre.
  • St George’s Day tea dance, scheduled to take place on 23 April at the Art Pavilion, Mile End Park.
  • Boishakhi Mela, scheduled to take place on Sunday 28 June at Weavers Fields.

And these venues are closed until further notice:

  • The Brady Arts and Community Centre, Hanbury Street, Whitechapel
  • The Kobi Nazrul Centre, Hanbury Street, Whitechapel

Many other events in Tower Hamlets have been cancelled and many venues are temporarily closed, so please check with the organiser or venue directly for details.

We’ll look forward to reopening when the time is right, and welcoming you back to future events. But for now, please stay home.  

Housing options

Just a reminder that our housing options counter service at Albert Jacob House in Bethnal Green is closed until further notice. Residents who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless, should call 0207 364 7474 where a member of the housing team will be able to assess their case and advise on their housing options. 

Any other enquiries should be directed to homelessness@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Whatsapp service

Government launches free coronavirus information service on WhatsApp

The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.

This will help combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Find out more >

Coronavirus myths 

The World Health Organization has published a series of myth busters in relation to coronavirus. If you've heard people talking about alternative ways to stop the spread or treat the virus, please check this advice.

Remember, the best place to check for accurate and official health advice, whether it's about coronavirus or something else, is always the NHS.  

Myth busters >

Transport for London updates

A reminder that you are not to travel unless it is absolutely essential. Under government guidance, there are only four reasons to leave home. If you do leave your home, you must ensure you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

Transport for London (TfL) is supporting critical workers in a range of ways, as well as urging other Londoners not to travel. If you're a key worker, please note:

  • TfL has suspended the Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone to support critical workers.
  • NHS staff are being given free access to Santander Cycles.

Read more >

Coronavirus: useful links

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