Since Boris came to power 348,000 more Londoners are earning below the living wage

Despite Boris' pronouncements, almost one in five Londoners do not earn enough to afford a decent quality of life

 

In the run up to the General Election, every few weeks Left Foot Forward will take a look back at the coalition’s record on a specific policy area. This week we focus on low pay, and each day we will feature a piece that looks back at the impact of coalition policies on in-work poverty over the past five years. The following is from Jenny Jones, Green Party member and deputy chair of the Policing & Crime Committee

London’s streets are paved with gold, but an increasing number of Londoners are living on credit. I grew up in the 1950s being taught that debt was to be avoided if possible. My parents heard distressing stories of the workhouse and debtors’ prisons. Today’s working poor would probably recognise some of those stories.

I’ve heard it said too often that London has been an economic success story under this mayor and government, with a booming jobs market and high rates of growth. This may be true, but it shows the poverty of these measures of success when they can conceal such desperate income poverty and inequality.

Average pay was still eight per cent lower in 2014 compared to 2008, when adjusted for inflation, and the minimum wage has fallen further and further behind the London Living Wage. The national minimum rate now leaves low paid workers up to £2.65 per hour below the amount they need to build a life on, and too many below even that as minimum wage enforcement remains a big problem.

The mayor has certainly talked up the London Living Wage, and the campaigners – with a little help from his office – have had a lot of success in getting large employers to sign up on a voluntary basis.

But there are many more people earning less than the London Living Wage today than when he came into office – the GLA estimates the number to have risen from 569,000 in 2008 to 917,000 in 2014. That’s almost one in five working Londoners not earning enough to afford a very basic quality of life, and even this wage rate leaves you relying on tax credits and housing benefit.

Without those in-work benefits, you would need to be paid £11.67 per hour just to scrape by in London.  Yet the national minimum wage is just £6.50 per hour, and for young adults a miserly £5.13 per hour.

Then there are those struggling on zero hour contracts or in self-employment, or worse still putting in 30 hours a week without pay on counter-productive workfare schemes. The mayor and this government co-funded a workfare pilot in London that halved the participants’ likelihood of finding work. One in 10 participants were sanctioned, mostly for refusing to participate, which also meant they lost access to Jobcentre training services.

Try scraping by on this low wage, insecure job market while paying sky-high rents and dealing with bus fares that have gone up by a fifth in real terms. Add to that the punitive array of service cuts imposed by austerity government and councils, and the cruel cuts to council tax benefit, and it’s no wonder that half a million Londoners are now facing problem debts, as an investigation of the London Assembly’s Economy Committee which I chaired recently found.

Poverty is not just about income, but the low wage economy in London makes it inevitable. One million Londoners desperately need a government and mayor with a completely different economic strategy.

Jenny Jones is a Green Party Assembly member and deputy chair of the Policing & Crime Committee. Follow her on Twitter

12 Responses to “Since Boris came to power 348,000 more Londoners are earning below the living wage”

  1. littleoddsandpieces

    RE …That’s almost one in five working Londoners not earning enough to afford a very basic quality of life, and even this wage rate leaves you relying on tax credits and housing benefit.Without those in-work benefits, you would need to be paid £11.67 per hour just to scrape by in London. Yet the national minimum wage is just £6.50 per hour, and for young adults a miserly £5.13 per hour.

    RE …Then there are those struggling on zero hour contracts or in self-employment, or worse still putting in 30 hours a week without pay on counter-productive workfare schemes. …

    UNIVERSAL CREDIT REPLACES TAX CREDITS AND HOUSING BENEFIT

    Tax Credits and housing benefit for the low waged and low income self employed will be absorbed by the new Universal Credit after 2016-2017.

    Sanctions will be imposed against the part time worker unable to gain full time hours.

    Most of the new jobs created since the crisis in 2008 have been part time.

    SANCTIONS BECOME PERMANENT UNDER UNIVERSAL CREDIT

    Universal Credit will mean permanent sanctions, as the lesser Hardship Payments will become a recoverable loan from future benefit or from your job.

    UNIVERSAL CREDIT AFFECTS PENSION CREDIT

    Loss of savings component of Pension Credit by flat rate pension on and from 6 April 2016 for new claimants.

    Pension Credit goes within Universal Credit,
    where if one partner is below new raised retirement age,
    both do not gain Pension Credit
    but are put on Universal Credit, easily lost by sanctions.

    TORIES MAY STAY IN POWER EVEN WITH INSUFFICIENT VOTES

    At present we are heading for the most severe hung parliament in UK history.

    The Tory party are thinking of staying in power as a caretaker government, even if individual Tory MPs lose their seats, so could sit on the 5 year fixed government law.

    NEW PENSIONERS – NIL BENEFIT – NIL STATE PENSION

    The Greens need to support the many not in work as well, which include:

    the disabled / chronic sick losing those benefits and then sanctioned into nil food money off unemployed benefits,

    the poor pensioners only on lowest state pension of all rich nations in London that is the most expensive place to live,

    and

    the new pensioners on and from 6 April 2016,

    facing nil state pension even after a lifetime in work,

    See why under my petition, in my

    WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT section, at:

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

    THE LOW WAGED OUT OF THE STATE PENSION ALTOGETHER

    Also within my petition are those who will get
    NIL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE from

    being in jobs paying below the LOWER ENTITLEMENT LEVEL TO GET ANY AUTOMATIC NATIONAL INSURANCE CREDITS.

    Now you get some state pension from a minimum of 1 year National Insurance record.

    From 6 April 2016, the flat rate state pension law grants

    NIL STATE PENSION for less than a minimum of 10 years NI history.

    Zero hour contracts,
    benefit sanctions to those in work or not, and
    salary sacrifice system –
    all push people out of the welfare state and nil state pension forever.

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

  2. Chris Whitmore

    So, no attempt whatsoever to put this into a macroeconomic context, or factor in the population growth over the period. London desperately needs assembly members who don’t treat their electorate like idiots. Perhaps Jenny could help start the process by resigning.

  3. Faerieson

    Factor in any number of red herrings, cite all manner of mitigating circumstances, talk about an economy in recession that’s battling to ‘recover,’ muddy the waters with whatever comes to hand; but stop also to listen to the words of the big guns in this Coalition. This was always going to be on the agenda, low (or even no) wage economy, high returns for big shareholders, the widening of the already yawning pay gap, a steely determination not to take action against massive tax evasion.

    The likes of Johnson, Hunt and Gove might at times present as bumbling, but there is most definitely an agenda here. It’s almost as if the ‘undead’ Thatcher is still at the helm!

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Er…no.

    Thatcher wasn’t as far right as these jokers.
    Remember, she pushed millions onto the welfare roles. This lot are determined to purge them.

  5. Guest

    All of which would suit Hamas for dissent, so why should we trust a pro-Hamas site to fight against them?

  6. Faerieson

    Well, yes! That’s one of the major worries about (especially recent) Conservative governments, the underlying continuum that’s been in operation since Thatcher. The lack of a similar approach by the discredited Blair government meant that, within no time at all, three terms of papering over the cracks was almost instantly swept under the carpet and neutralised.

    Thatcher is still held in high esteem by the rabid right, whereas Blair is regarded as a war criminal by many on the left. If this were fiction Blair could easily have been cast in the role of ‘the plant.’

  7. ian brunsdon

    Please talk normal English?

  8. ian brunsdon

    Ok English,Thatcher was a slag Camoron is a cunt.

  9. Faerieson

    I’m not talking, I’m writing.

  10. Faerieson

    I have replied, but my response has appeared out of sequence. Sorry…

  11. ian brunsdon

    How drawal ha ha ha you joker.

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    And the common issue is…FPTP.

    We should really look into fixing that.

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