Croydon’s economy is growing but as we know it is too unequal and too divided. Yes, our town centre and many of our district centres are regenerating. But not everyone is benefiting. 25,000 people (27% of Croydon jobs), are still going home with poverty-wages, relegated to the social margins and forced to endure a life that is more stressful, with more illness. Children in these families are more likely to be depressed and more likely to have trouble at school. Put simply, Croydon’s current reality forces our families on poverty pay to live outside of the ‘improvements’ those who earn more are able to experience.
We need to build a town where everyone can access genuinely “good work”. For me, key elements of this will be work that: pays at least a real Living Wage; provides investment in employees’ training and development; provides security and flexibility as suits workers and gives workers increased control of the organisations they work for. To achieve this outcomes I think we’ve got to see far greater worker representation at all levels within organisations and also explore new forms of ownership (co-ops and mutuals).
In addition we’ve got to develop work and an economy where communities see the benefits of their efforts staying local, via approaches such as: credit unions; regional banks; a long term infrastructure investment strategy in the key areas our town needs (housing; transport; quality cultural and leisure spaces).
It’s also going to be vital for us to better connect our education institutions and our employers and build high quality vocational routes to work, supporting us develop a new generation of local producers and makers. For me, those who create “Made in Croydon” products and services should be supported to promote and develop their businesses, receiving support with their business strategies and expansion needs to be able to take their work to scale and its full potential.
In summary, we’ve got to shift from too many low paid service sector and retail jobs to create a Croydon economy of the future which has a diverse range of sectors including: creative industries; ethical finance; tech and renewable technologies. To get there we’ll have to put in the work to nurture and support our talent and entrepreneurs and regain far more control of our local economy to serve our local communities, rather than allowing the profits we make to flow away to private interests outside of our town.