AN INVESTIGATION into low pay and the London living wage has been launched by the London Assembly’s economy committee.
Figures show that 700,000 Londoners – 16 per cent of workers – earn less than the London living wage of £8.55 per hour – and that there are 1.1 million children and adults in poverty in London in households where at least one person is in work.
The investigation will:
- investigate the extent and drivers for low pay in London including how persistent the problem is ;
- assess the impact of low pay on London’s economic success; and
- explore what action should be taken by the Mayor, employers and partners in relation to low pay in London
The committee also want to hear the views of London employers, representative bodies, think tanks, academics and experts, campaigning organisations, London boroughs, and Londoners themselves on these issues. For more information or to contribute your views, please contact Simon Shaw at [email protected]. by August 9th 2013.
Stephen Knight, who chairs the economy committee, says: “London is a city of enormous wealth and yet more than a million adults and children in the capital live in poverty – despite someone in their family being in work. “We want to understand what effect this is having on the economy and why low-paid work persists in the capital.”
He said the committee would also want to explore what might be preventing more companies paying the London Living Wage – which the Mayor has committed to increasing the number of private sector employers paying the London living wage – currently 137 – to 250 within the next three years*. Assembly members will also look at the current uptake of the London living wage – which the Mayor hopes to make the “norm” by 2020 – and see what barriers exist that prevent more companies paying it. “We want to find out if there is more the Mayor and employers could be doing to increase pay for hard-working Londoners” added Mr Knight.
(*There are 137 accredited living wage employers in London. Others may be paying the living wage but are not yet accredited – this includes the GLA which is in the process of being accredited.)
FIGURES given in various reports covering the economy committee’s announcement of the investigation show that overall, there are 610,000 children and 1,350,000 working age adults in poverty in London.
The total number of children in poverty has fallen in the last decade, while the number of working age adults in poverty has risen. The number of children living in low-income working families (in-work poverty) in London has steadily risen since the late 1990s.
There are 360,000 children living in in-work poverty, up by 110,000 or 44 pc since the late 1990s. Of this rise, some 40,000 was in the last four years.By contrast, the number of children living in low-income workless families has dropped by 160,000 over the same period to 250,000.
As a result, the share of in-work poverty has INCREASED from a third to more than half over the period. Trends for adults in low-income follow a similar pattern.
The number of adults in low-income working families increased by 320,000 or almost four fifths in the ten-year period (in absolute terms). In relative terms, taking account of the changing population, the proportion of working-age adults in low-income, working households has risen from 12 pc to 19pc. It now stands at 730,000, having risen by 140,000 in the last four years alone. In total, just under 1.1m people in London are in in-work poverty.
The number of children in workless families fell by over 160,000 in the decade to 2010-11. But the commensurate rise in the number of children in working families has largely been in families where one adult, and possibly the sole earner, works part-time. Among such families, the risk of poverty is still quite high.
Part-time work is not sufficient to lift a family out of poverty.
The committee will be holding a formal meeting on the topic on September. (Sources: GLA press release / accompanying documents).
MAYOR CHALLENGED ON FOOD POVERTY COMMITMENT
The Mayor was challenged today at Mayor’s Question Time following his omission to reference a commitment to tackle food poverty in his 2020 Vision document published last week. While there was a reference on an interactive timeline which could be viewed on the GLA intranet to ‘aim for a zero hunger city’ and that ‘No child in London should go to school hungry by 2020’ the report itself failed to mention this pressing issue facing Londoners.
Len Duvall AM, Leader of the London Assembly Labour Group questioned the Mayor about whether he had actually read the report titled ‘A Zero Hunger City – Tackling food poverty in London’ produced by Fiona Twycross AM. The Mayor replied that he is “aware of its conclusions” but failed to confirm that he had actually read it.
The report launched on 27th March sets out recommendations to the Mayor to tackle Food Poverty in London. The Mayor’s Office has until 24th July to formally respond to this.
Assembly member Fiona Twycross (Lab, Londonwide), who recently completed an investigation into food poverty in London for the London Assembly’s Health & Environment Committee said: ‘’As the Mayor was unable to confirm he had actually read my report when challenged today, my office has now delivered another copy to his office.
“I hope that the Mayor now reads this report and takes on the board its recommendations. “I’m also concerned that at the same meeting we had other assembly members again calling for a freeze on the minimum wage, as well as saying that they do not care about the gap between rich and poor.
“The Mayor needs to address the reality of many Londoners who are faced by rising living costs and having to access support from food banks. “Last week we saw him launch a glossy report as he turns his focus to own his legacy, however this omission shows his 2020 vision lacks substance and does not deal with problems facing Londoners’’
A formal response from the Mayor is due later this month. (Source: GLA press release)
CRACKDOWN ON LOAN SHARKS
Loan sharks in Lambeth will come under new pressure following the council’s decision to sign up to a national agreement to tackle illegal money lenders.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council cabinet member for safer and stronger neighbourhoods, said: “Loan sharks often target the most vulnerable people in our community and I welcome our push to tackle the issue.
“With a stagnant economy, these austere times are hard enough without the additional misery of being in debt to illegal loan sharks. “I urge residents to avoid illegal money lenders at all costs, and to call the hotline number to report any operating in their area.”
Loan sharking is a criminal offence, with extortionate rates of interest on loans that leave some borrowers facing demands for thousands of pounds more than they borrowed. Borrowers can face intimidation, violence or threats of violence and be forced into prostitution, theft or other criminality.
The council’s work to raise awareness of the new action against illegal money lending will be linked to ongoing efforts to highlight the availability of affordable credit in the borough.
The national illegal money lending team, which is based in Birmingham and funded by the National Trading Standards Board, investigates and prosecutes illegal money lending and related offences. The England Illegal Money Lending Team Investigations protocol will apply in the borough until March 2015.
To report a loan shark people can call the 24 hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or text “loan shark” with a message to 60003.
(Source: Lambeth council press release)
NEW RECYCLING SCHEME – FOR LIGHTBULBS
A NEW recycling scheme for low energy light bulbs and batteries has been launched in Lambeth.
Lambeth has installed 19 Recolight Bulbstore containers for recycling low energy light bulbs and batteries across the borough and says it now has the most comprehensive collection service for light bulbs anywhere in the country.
Lambeth successfully bid for a Government grant to fund the costs of the containers and they will be emptied free of charge by Recolight. All the light bulbs collected will be sent for recycling at approved treatment facilities.
Modern low energy light bulbs typically last over six times as long as, and use a quarter of the power of, an equivalent incandescent bulb. Most importantly, low energy light bulbs save energy and reduce costs. In order to generate their energy saving properties low energy light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury which can be damaging to the environment. It is therefore important to ensure that they are recycled rather than thrown away in the household rubbish.
Launching the scheme, Cllr Imogen Walker, cabinet member for environment and sustainability said: “These containers from Recolight will provide a much needed service and support Lambeth’s commitment to continue reducing and recycling waste.”
Recolight’s customer service manager Lyndsey Smith, said; “People want to recycle their old bulbs but are often unsure of where the nearest facilities are. “These containers will be visible to thousands of residents every week, and we hope that this will help make a difference to recycling in the local area.” (Source: Lambeth council press release).
CAMPAIGN TO HELP TEEN VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Abusive teenage relationships are being tackled by Lambeth Council through a new awareness campaign. The council recognises that some teens think verbal and physically attacks are acceptable and is running ‘This is abuse’ with the Home Office to challenge the behaviour.
The campaign features posters across the borough, expert led discussions with young people in schools and colleges, and extra support for victims.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for safer and stronger neighbourhoods, said: “Domestic abuse is very damaging for victims of any age – but when experienced at a young age it can set a tone and a damaging expectation of what is acceptable for the rest of your life. “Some teens have very worrying attitudes about what is and isn’t acceptable – abuse is not normal and is never alright.
“We are determined to explain to young people who experience domestic violence that they just don’t have to put up with someone they are close to being abusive towards them and that support is available. “Added to that we are telling perpetrators that what they are doing is wrong, won’t be tolerated and that we will take every step to ensure we get successful prosecutions through the courts.”
The work is being undertaken as part of Lambeth council’s Safer Communities campaign.
Young women whose relationship leaves them feeling scared, intimidated or controlled can get help from Lambeth’s Gaia Centre, which is run by Refuge, on 020 7733 8724. For advice on the issue visit thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk.
DIABETES ‘TO COST £40 BILLION BY 2035’
ONE SIXTH of all NHS resources in 2035 could be spent on diabetes unless more is done on prevention and current trends continue, the London Assembly’s health committee has been told
At the first meeting of its new investigation into diabetes care in the capital, the clear link between being overweight or obese and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was highlighted. The committee heard obesity is increasing among children, with one consultant paediatrician saying she had needed to give children bariatric (weight loss) surgery when other weight loss efforts had failed in a bid to prevent diabetes.
Currently, seven per cent of Londoners have diabetes – mostly type 2 – and GPs are seeing numbers of diabetes patients increase each year, including many that are undiagnosed. According to experts, many Londoners do not know about the symptoms of diabetes and some diabetics are not informed about the potentially devastating and life-changing complications that Type 2 diabetes can cause.
As a result, many do not seek treatment for their disease, particularly as it may not make them feel unwell. It can take up to 10 years to diagnose type 2 diabetes, by which time half will have developed complications.
Health committee chairman Dr Onkar Sahota said: “With obesity having reached such epidemic levels that children are now having their stomachs stapled, It is increasingly clear that we need a major shift in how we prevent and treat type-2 diabetes.
“The committee heard that tackling poor diet, increasing physical activity and empowering people to improve their own health are all key in reducing the burden placed on the NHS. “The fact that today’s modern diet is high in sugar and processed foods, and that these poor dietary habits are reinforced by relentless advertising like the sponsorship deals we saw during the Olympics are part of the problem, not the solution.
“There is a diabetes ticking time bomb in London, and the time has come for local government and the NHS to come up with new and radical ideas to tackle the problem.”
All the experts stressed the need for educating people about the disease. Experts set out a number of potential ways to tackle the problem, including a tax on sugary drinks, compulsory food labelling and involving schools and health visitors to help children and families develop good eating habits, which will be explored in more detail at the Committee’s next meeting on November 26th.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not use or produce insulin properly. There are two types – type 1 in which the body produces no insulin and which cannot be prevented, and type 2 which develops when the body can still make insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin does not work properly. If you are overweight or obese (you have a body mass index of 30 or greater), you are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (Source: GLA press release)
LAMBETH APPROVES PLAN FOR RESIDENT-LED CO-OPERATIVE PARKS
LAMBETH council has become the first in the country to offer its residents the chance to be involved in decisions over the future of their local parks.
Lambeth’s ‘Co-operative Parks Programme’ will see residents working alongside the council to improve local parks and given the chance to take decisions about where money is spent and how parks are designed. There will now be a series of public face to face events across Lambeth later this year to gauge the demand from residents and community groups to the proposals.
Cllr Sally Prentice, cabinet member for culture and leisure said: “It means local people getting the chance to work alongside the council and take decisions about how Lambeth’s parks are run and where money is spent.
‘We want to build upon the success of the friends of Myatt’s Field Park, the Friends of Brixton Windmill and Brockwell Park who led their Lottery investment programmes working in partnership with the council’s park’s service.
‘We have a long history of working successfully with friends of park groups, and the resident-led approach has led to real improvements with new community gardens and areas to grow food. “Our new co-operative parks programme will build on that work and make our 60 parks and open spaces, wonderful places to relax and play sport.”
The parks programme could lead to smaller, unused green spaces turned into community gardens or growing areas and builds on projects already delivered by the council and park friends groups.
Local examples include; Myatt’s Field Park Project Group, in Camberwell, which takes an active role in managing the greenhouses where people grow fruit and vegetables and Brockwell Park Community Partners, which delivers projects including the popular Brockwell Park Music, Arts and Drama programme;
Under the cooperative parks programme the council could share a park’s management with a community group or hand it over completely and perform a monitoring role. If there is no interest from the community, the council would retain full control. Local groups would be free to seek sponsorship and outside grants from organisations such as the Lottery individually or in partnership with the council.
The programme was drawn up following consultation with the Lambeth Parks Forum, an umbrella group representing the borough’s parks friends groups. The council remains the custodian of green space in the borough Under the programme. (Source: Lambeth council press release)
MAYOR LAUNCHES ‘POCKET PARKS ‘ FUND
AS PART OF the Mayor of London’s drive to create 100 ‘Pocket Parks’ across the capital, local community groups are being invited to come forward and apply for a community grant of up to £20,000.
The £450,000 community fund is part of a £2 million investment from City Hall to bring 100 underused urban spaces back into use by March 2015. Normally the size of a tennis court these ‘Pocket Parks’ create small green retreats for the local community to enjoy, making the capital an even better place to live and work.
The first ‘Pocket Park’ opened in Stockwell last month, transforming a concrete area behind a bus stop into an edible oasis, with work already underway on a further 26 ‘Pocket Parks’. Funding for these early projects was directed through London boroughs whereas this round of funding will be given directly to community groups working to improve their local neighbourhoods.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The most important ingredient for any of my ‘Pocket Parks’ is the involvement of the local community to help shape, create, love and preserve it. “Making the most of our small and forgotten spaces can have a massive impact on the quality of life in urban areas. “They provide the neighbourhood with greenery, a place to meet, relax or grow food, and also make London an even better place to live, work and invest in.”
The scheme which is being delivered by Groundwork on behalf of the Mayor will build on the work of Groundwork’s Transform initiative which began as a key part of the London 2012 Changing Places programme and has already forged close links with local partners, most of them small community groups.
Anita Konrad, Director, Groundwork London said: “At Groundwork we are firmly committed to helping build communities and improving the environment. “So we are delighted to be part of the Mayor’s ‘Pocket Park’ initiative to create 100 mini oases across the capital and look forward to receiving applications and working with local groups to transform a small corner of their local area into a vibrant and green community space.”
The fund offers grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 to local community groups to create ‘Pocket Parks’. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on 23rd July 2013. For details of how to apply, please download the Pocket Parks Application pack from http://london.groundwork.org.uk/what-we-do/major-initiatives/pocket-park… (Source: GLA press release)
SERIOUS INJURIES FOR ‘VULNERABLE’ LONDON ROAD USERS RISE FOR SECOND YEAR IN SUCCESSION
Figures released by Transport for London show the number of vulnerable road users seriously injured in London’s has risen for the second consecutive year.
London Assembly Labour group transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross has called on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to focus on bringing down the number of serious incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The figures show serious incidents involving pedestrians increased in 2012 by 17 per cent since 2011. Serious cyclist injuries rose by 18 pc and motorcyclist casualties in the same category saw an increase of six pc over that period.
Val Shawcross, who is assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark says: “The Mayor must introduce targets to bring down the rise of serious casualties on London’s roads. “He’s taken his eye off the ball and the result has been an increase in injuries to the most vulnerable road users. “Boris has promoted his policy of smoothing car traffic in London and it looks as though that has been at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
“If we are determined to encourage more people to cycle and walk then the Mayor must improve public safety on red routes which run through high streets and shopping areas. “The Mayor’s priority needs to be making London’s roads as safe as possible, and he should be paying the most attention to TfL’s (Transport for London) red routes which pose a greater threat to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.” (Source: London Assembly Labour group press release).
Transport for London’s Casualties in Greater London during 2012 can be found here: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/casualties-in-greater-london-2012.pdf