A more equal Lambeth
Lambeth is an open and welcoming borough where people care about one another and about how well their neighbours are doing. The Labour Party was established to build a fairer, more equal country and we are delivering on those values in Lambeth. Through support for early years, our excellent schools, strong partnership with the NHS and by building more homes we’ve established a strong track record in fighting inequality. As a result, Lambeth has been recognised by the Social Mobility Commission as one of the top 5% of local authorities in the country for giving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the best opportunities in life. But we know there is still much more to do.
That is particularly true for the hundreds of children in care that Lambeth looks after. We are proud of the support provided to these children, the help we give them to move into higher education, apprenticeships or work, but we also know that becoming independent when leaving care is hard. To make that transition easier we will exempt Lambeth care leavers from paying council tax until their 25th birthday, helping over 250 young people.
Many families have faced the impact of huge Tory cuts to benefits, the bedroom tax, the threat of the tenant tax and the arrival of a flawed universal credit system. We have invested to protect residents from the impact of those cruel policies, by establishing a relief fund to help struggling families pay their bills and providing debt and benefits advice services that support over 12,000 people a year.
We’ve introduced an employment service to help over 170 residents affected by the benefit cap to get into work. Through programmes like Every Pound Counts we’ve put £13.5 million into the hands of Lambeth residents by helping them access benefits that they were owed and supporting residents facing indebtedness. We will extend our partnership with the local voluntary sector to provide advice and support to Lambeth residents and ensure that all the advice is consolidated in one clear location on our website.
We will fight against a cruel and unfair Universal Credit system being forced on Lambeth by the Government and we will continue to ensure that nobody is evicted because of errors or delays in the benefit system.
And to support parents on Universal Credit, we will partner with a local credit union to introduce an affordable childcare loan for local parents so that they can return to work without ending up out of pocket.
Since 2012 the employment rate in Lambeth has risen to over 83%, the highest in our history, while unemployment has fallen from over 9% to just 5%. Despite this huge improvement, too many residents are in low paid jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Lambeth led the way in London by becoming a Living Wage Employer in 2012, ensuring that all Lambeth Council employees are paid the London Living Wage as are employees in 99% of council contracts. Earlier this year the London Living Wage was extended to the men and women who sweep our streets and empty our bins.
We will make it a requirement for organisations that receive council grants or that rent commercial property from the council to pay the London Living Wage, because a hard day’s work deserves a fair day's pay. We will go further, partnering with our local Business Improvement Districts to promote Living Wage Zones, supporting local businesses to become Living Wage Employers and encourage businesses to adopt the Mayor’s new ‘Good Work Standard’ which includes paying the Living Wage.
The real answer to poverty pay rests in a proper national living wage. A Labour government will introduce a £10 minimum wage, giving a pay rise to millions of people.
Despite the huge growth in jobs, investment and opportunity in the borough in the past few years, there remains deep and persistent inequality facing some of our communities. Lambeth set up an independent Equality Commission to work with representatives from across the borough and to focus on the lived experiences of our Portuguese, Somali, Black Caribbean & disabled residents. The Equality Commission reported in 2017 with a range of recommendations to make our borough a fairer place to live. Lambeth will work with our partners and community groups to implement all recommendations in the Equality Commission’s final report.
Key to this is making sure that the talent and potential of Lambeth’s young people isn’t wasted. We are committed to improving the educational experience and attainment of Black Caribbean and African children and those from the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking communities by working with our schools partnership and lobbying for the government to reinstate the ethnic minority achievement grant which the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government stopped.
People come from all over the world to make their home in Lambeth. Government cuts to English-language teaching make it harder for people to make the most of everything our borough has to offer. We will improve the take-up of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision, especially for parents using our children’s centres and at schools.
We will introduce a Black and Minority Ethnic leadership programme within the council to help talented staff reach their full potential and become senior managers. We also believe that Lambeth must lead by example on pay inequality. We have reduced the pay of Lambeth’s chief executive and senior staff and we will ensure that the pay ratio between the highest and lowest earner in the council continues to come down and does not exceed 10:1, making Lambeth one of the most equal large employers in the country.
Lambeth’s disabled residents face some of the biggest barriers to work. The unemployment rate for disabled residents is almost ten times that of the borough average and this unfairness must be tackled. We have launched a new programme with EU funding to support residents with disabilities or long-term health problems into work. We will expand our work with key partners to increase the quality and range of targeted employment opportunities for disabled residents, residents with mental health issues and residents with complex needs.
Disabled residents face unacceptable barriers not just to work, but to travelling around our borough and accessing shops and services. We’ll expand and provide additional funding to the DisabledGo scheme to improve access, and ask all businesses in Lambeth to sign a pledge to make all premises wheelchair accessible by 2022.
Lambeth is home to one of the largest LGBT+ communities in the country. Over the past few years we’ve worked closely with the police to tackle homophobic hate crime and successfully campaigned to protect historic LGBT+ venues like the The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT).
Our commitments to supporting one another don’t stop at the border. Lambeth residents have been at the forefront of reaching out to support refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. Over the past few years Lambeth has shown national leadership by taking in 23 refugee families, finding homes and safe shelter for over 100 people who are now part of the Lambeth community and we will welcome more refugee families to Lambeth over the next four years. This has been made possible by the fantastic work of community groups in Lambeth, in particular Lambeth Citizens.
We will also support Lambeth Citizens in their campaign to make securing UK Citizenship easier and more affordable, especially for under 18s. The Government currently charges £973 for under 18s to become citizens, which is unfair and disproportionate.
We will also place Lambeth at the forefront of the fight against modern day slavery by being one of the first signatories to the Co-operative Party’s Modern Day Slavery Charter.