Our area, Outer London, is rapidly changing and dramatic transformations are on the way. Our population is growing, house building is increasing but both poverty and gentrification are moving outwards too.
To support the effort to win good jobs, decent housing linked to our incomes and better services for our communities we’ve been building a grassroots campaign called the #peoplesplan where we put local people back in charge and change things for the better.
The #peoplesplan is bringing local people together around 5 main goals:
1. Good jobs
2. Homes for people, not profit
3. Safe streets, especially for young people
4. Affordable transport that improves the environment
5. High streets and culture that thrive
Recently we organised three action focused events focused on Good jobs, Homelessness and housing and Transport. Short write ups follow. If you’ve got additional ideas for action, let us know by emailing email@example.com
Action to tackle the gig economy and insecure work
While the headline unemployment figures of 3.9% (the lowest since the 1970’s) may give the impression that all is well, disquieting trends lie beneath. Wage stagnation, the rise of temporary and insecure work and the expansion of the gig economy mean that for far too many the world of work is stressful, exploitative and a struggle to put food on the table and pay the rent. 24% of employees in Croydon are low-paid, which is the highest of any borough in South London and 10% of our working-age population are now using apps – Uber, Deliveroo and the like to sell their labour.
Facing this situation, we brought together local residents, campaigners in the world of work and responsible employers to discuss what’s going on and how we can organise a response.
Dr Alex Wood of the Oxford Internet Institute gave a comprehensive overview of the rise of the Gig Economy, sharing stories of it’s dehumanising impacts on workers:
If you’re not top-rated… your application will only be viewed [once]… for every ten [that a top-rated is viewed]… they put so much weight on being top-rated it trumps… capabilities and skills.
There’s always that concern that you’re gonna have someone come and just like, give you a 2 [out of 5]… My 98% rating now went down to 95% and you don’t always know why because there are many factors… and they don’t tell you why it dropped. And if it goes below 90, I lose my top-rated status.
I tried to reach the support team… they never ever reply… [no] support team at all. It’s just automatic… the same message over and over… and then… they send me a warning… “Hey, we hear from a client that you act unprofessional. This is not the place for unprofessional [behaviour]…” they blocked me from my account… I had lots of good five-star rating[s].
Vaidehi Sachdev, Senior Researcher at ShareAction shared new approaches to evaluating the contribution of the largest employers and how investors are increasingly demanding information to understand how work forces are being treated. This led to a discussion on how we could hold our largest employers in London to account. Imagine if the Mayor published and ranked meaningful data on how the biggest companies contribute to our boroughs and communities?
Councillor Manju Shahul-hameed, Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs shared Croydon Council’s approach to supporting people enter decent jobs, including our Good Employer campaign >> www.goodemployercroydon.com ; support for local residents to access jobs https://www.croydonworks.co.uk/ and the development of our local apprenticeship strategy.
Actions identified to fight back included:
- Unions supporting freelancer organisation to give workers a voice and counter power of platforms
- Affordable coworking spaces to support remote gig workers to physically come together – Freelancers Union and IndycubeCommunity
- The Mayor researching and ranking the contribution of employers enabling Londoners to better hold big business to account. More thoughts on how the Mayor can do more to ensure decent work here >> https://www.onlondon.co.uk/jamie-audsley-sadiq-khan-can-do-more-to-ensure-london-businesses-provide-decent-work/
- Development of high quality vocational routes into secure work in the growing areas of tech; engineering; construction.
- Employers committing to a set number of LivingWage hours to improve job security and income
Croydon Vs Homelessness
Government welfare reforms and the implementation of universal credit are fuelling a dramatic rise in homelessness in towns and cities across the country, with homeless charities reporting universal credit as a factor in a third of people ending up in their care.
Add to this the impact of austerity on council’s ability to provide the services required to support the most vulnerable – local government budgets have been cut by nearly 50 per cent since 2010!
But Croydon Council has been fighting back, developing innovative partnerships to support local residents with the voluntary and community sector; developing wrap around support for the different needs of local residents e.g. budgeting advice, benefit support and access to work. The council has also been lobbying to improve Universal Credit delivery – the removal of waiting periods for payment, being just one example.
Other actions identified to improve homelessness and housing during the discussion:
· Support the most vulnerable access safe and secure housing with a Housing First approach to homelessness which means immediately housing people and providing comprehensive support for the needs people have
· Building new council housing as a priority
· All new housing developments to be 50% affordable and ensure that “affordable” means affordable for low income households who want to rent (40% of the open market), or those who want to buy (purchases linked to median average incomes)
· No loss of either social housing or council housing during redevelopments
Transport action day
Recently we investigated transport issues across Croydon and Sutton travelling via bus, train, tram, with a fair bit of walking too.
As house building increases, our population grows and new communities are created it’s vital we see better public transport, action to tackle air quality and the suburbs become more accessible for all, rather than clogged with the gas guzzling car.
Key areas for action identified were:
· Improved rail services – Southern Metro services need to be brought into public ownership under TfL control and run more frequently
· Better bus services to new communities
· Better bus services to Hospitals:
o Direct services to Croydon University Hospital from Addiscombe, Woodside, Selhurst, South Norwood and Upper Norwood – at present you have to travel via central Croydon or Streatham
o Improved services to St Helier from Sutton
o Improved services from Sutton Town Centre to Royal Marsden Hospital Now.
o Improved services including the tram to Royal Marsden when the New Cancer Centre is open.
· Tram extensions – Croydon extensions to Crystal Palace and Sutton. As Sutton needs a tram not a bus way
· Cycling and walking routes, moving away from the car. We need protected cycle lanes and highways, focusing on improved access to our town centres (e.g. Barclay Road in Croydon and Brighton Road in Sutton) and green spaces