A radical £100million package has been launched by Westminster Council in a bid to stave off the recession.
The council has agreed on a variety of measures to help see people through the lean times, including freezing council tax at 2008 levels, revamping shopping centres across the borough in an attempt to woo more consumers to the area and boosting business by paying invoices for small businesses within 10 days.
As a safety net, the council will establish a pool of cheap, private-rental properties for people who become homeless in the coming months, as well as offering loans to people struggling with their mortgage.
Council leader Colin Barrow said the looming recession demanded a fresh approach to previous downturns when councils simply cut jobs and services, adding: "These measures are designed to help families, encourage enterprise and demonstrate to our residents that their city will respond, lead and act in the face of unprecedented economic crisis. However, they are the start of a process of recovery, not the final word or even the best solutions."
Queens' Park Estate Residents Association chairman Michael Brown, 56, said: "Freezing, or even reducing council tax will help people living in one of the most deprived areas of London."
Belgravia Residents' Association chairman James Wright agreed. "Anything the council can do to help is a step in the right direction," he said. "Westminster benefits fromlow council tax anyway, but freezing it is to be applauded."
Homeless charity Shelter said the council should build more social and affordable housing.