Alice Woudhuysen's blog
Yesterday the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights shared his final report on poverty in the UK with the UK Government. While it paints a very bleak picture of poverty in the UK – something it says is ‘obvious to anyone who opens their eyes’ – the silver lining is that ‘many of the problems could readily be solved if the Government were to listen to people experiencing poverty, the voluntary sector and local authorities.’
In the last few years, a slew of reports have been published focusing on the impact of the coalition government’s decision to localise various elements of the national social security system, including council tax benefit (now council tax support) and the discretionary social fund (now local welfare assistance).
About half of all London local authorities are accredited Living Wage employers and, according to our analysis, significantly more local employers pay the London Living Wage where this is the case. Their leadership may have a ‘ripple effect’ in encouraging other organisations to become Living Wage employers.
In his Manifesto, Sadiq Khan boldly declared that ‘in a city as prosperous as London, there is no excuse for child poverty’. He repeated this statement almost word-for-word in A City for All Londoners, his new vision for London, published in October last year. Obviously we agree, but what action has he taken since to tackle the drivers of child poverty? And by this we mean the high housing costs, lack of affordable childcare, underemployment and low pay in the capital.
It’s a public policy reform that has the potential to help the Government to solve two major policy headaches – improving access to affordable childcare for working parents and helping schools cut the attainment gap between richer and poorer children – but the number of extended schools remains inadequate.
Yesterday we published a new report with Z2K, which shows the impact that abolishing council tax benefit has had on low income Londoners. Still too poor to pay: three years of localised council tax support in London reveals that localising council tax support has led to increasing numbers of households receiving court summonses, falling into council tax arrears and being referred to bailiffs.