Fly-tipping reports plummeted during lockdown in Lewisham, according to the latest Covid-19 update from council bosses.

Reports of people dumping their waste illegally went from 7,702 in April 2019 to 2,367 in April 2020.

The Covid-19 report, discussed by overview and scrutiny committee members on Tuesday (May 26), provided updates on a range of issues including illegal evictions, shielding residents, volunteering, deaths in care homes, and youth offending during lockdown.

It emerged that thousands of Lewisham residents have signed up to volunteer amid the crisis – 2,085 had signed up with Lewisham Local as of May 15.

The Government announced a three-month ban on evictions amid the coronavirus outbreak – it emerged in the report that Lewisham council officers have prevented 44 illegal evictions since March 30.

The report also stated that as of May 1, there have been 14 recorded deaths from Covid-19 in care homes.

As of May 22, the latest ONS figures show this has risen to 17.

It also emerged that the number of children and young people being arrested in the borough has dropped by nearly 50 per cent.

In response to the pandemic, the Government announced that it would ease Care Act obligations on councils, but according to the report Lewisham has not needed to make use of this.

“The option of easements to the Care Act came into effect at the end of March [and] make it possible for the council to temporarily reduce its usual duties.

“While we are currently applying flexibility to processes in order to focus on rapidly giving residents the care they need outside of hospital, and therefore take pressure off the NHS to date, the council has not needed to operate

under the Care Act easements,” it states.

Off the back of the report, scrutiny members raised a number of issues with the chief executive Kim Wright and Kevin Sheehan, executive director for housing, regeneration and environment during the meeting.

These included large groups gathering in parks, getting more updated figures, BAME figures, PPE, lack of scrutiny meetings, getting business grants out too slowly, a review on how the council’s objectives are doing, and concerns about finances.

Cllr Patrick Codd said the latest figures showed that Lewisham was 266th out of 314 councils for getting business grants out and asked for an update.

Mr Sheehan said: “The latest statistics are there are 3,400 businesses eligible, 2,800 of them have had their grant, that’s about £37 million we’ve dished out.

“There are 600 businesses we’re currently looking to see and visit individually so that we can actually take that forward and hopefully finish that job off, which has proven more difficult than we anticipated.

“There was some misinformation from the Government initially, in terms of the number that we had and that had to be dealt with as well but there’s still a little way to go yet.”

Cllr Peter Bernards asked for figures on mental health sectioning during the crisis and whether they had risen.

He added that he had still not received the information he asked for at the last scrutiny meeting, involving figures on BAME residents, who are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Ms Wright apologised and said she would get the figures back to Cllr Bernards.

She told committee members that alongside a package of mental health support for staff and partners, there will also be a mental health prevention summit held on June 2.

Organised by the NHS, it will discuss a 12-month targeted programme of prevention aimed at people who previously have not had access to mental services but have been affected by the pandemic.

“That will look at people who have been bereaved, the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our BAME community, the rise of domestic violence, the loss of jobs, the uncertainty that’s created by self-isolation […] that’s something we’re playing a key part in with our health partners,” Ms Wright said.

On large groups gathering in parks and failing to social distance, Mr Sheehan said since the relaxing of lockdown rules, the messaging has become more “complicated” and the council was “much more dependent on individuals self-policing”.

“Broadly speaking people are still behaving very well and doing the right thing and self-distancing.

“However, there have been some significant cases where we have had people gather at inappropriate times doing inappropriate things and we are still working very closely with the police on a daily basis to try and address those things,” he said.

The next overview and scrutiny meeting is scheduled for June 23.