Impacts of COVID-19



To understand better the impacts of the pandemic on the borough, we have been working and engaging with our residents and local businesses throughout the crisis.

Health impacts Click to get info

The Covid-19 health crisis have meant almost 8,000 residents have been shielding in the borough.  Over 250 residents have died, and many more face longer-term health needs. We understand how traumatic this experience has been for those directly affected by the virus, and for the families and friends of people who have sadly passed away. We collectively grieve the loss of those residents.

The wider effects on well-being will be long-lasting. Residents have told us that the pandemic had made them anxious and uncertain about their futures.

Inequalities Click to get info

Beyond the acute health impacts, the pandemic has brought to the forefront the systemic inequalities experienced by some of our residents. Our diverse communities were hit with disproportionate levels of infection and deaths from the virus. As one of the most diverse places in London, we must continue to understand and act on this issue.

Economic impacts Click to get info

There are also considerable economic impacts. We distributed £1.6m to families through the financial hardship fund whilst 2,000 households in the borough received support from the community help network during lockdown. Over half of residents think that one of the main problems over the coming months will be people struggling to cope financially. Local businesses also suffered from the crisis, despite the Council distributing over £47m of grants to support them. The scale of the recession we are facing is unprecedented in recent times.

Although there are many challenges, it is important to recognise what has been valued by residents. The environment and local neighbourhoods have been a crucial part of wellbeing and support during this period. Almost half of residents want more information on walking and cycling, and cycling has increased by up to 178 per cent in parts of the borough. The increase in air quality and reduction in traffic and pollution has been cited by residents as a positive from this otherwise difficult time. Many residents have also re-discovered their local shops and green spaces. Overall, the pandemic highlighted the importance of having balanced neighbourhoods, where residents can easily access what they need for a fulfilling life. 

As the borough faces new challenges, so does the council. We are facing a sizeable financial challenge, despite being in a solid position at the pandemic’s outset. We have estimated a financial pressure of £23m against this year’s budget, arising from our mobilisation to support residents and local businesses, and a significant reduction in the fees and charges that we use to fund services.

While the impacts and financial constraints are stark, we are determined to build on the many unique strengths and assets in the Borough

Headline statistics Click to get info

  • 252 registered deaths in the borough, up to 15 August
  • 6 out of 10 residents say the lockdown had a negative impact on their mental health.
  • 50% of residents are from an ethnic minority background
  • 132% rise in unemployment in WF between February and July 2020
  • By 2030, the income gap between higher-earners and lower-earners is predicted to reach £30,000
  • Between February and June 2020, the number of Universal Credit claims increased by 142% in Waltham Forest, compared to 108% in London
  • 5.4 times increase in the total number of residents requesting help with Council Tax Support, discretionary housing payments, discretionary Council Tax and local welfare assistance between April 2019 and April 2020
  • 55% decrease in levels of nitrogen oxides in the air