The Mayor and local authorities must act urgently to improve housing for families, childcare provision, and part-time and family-friendly employment and training opportunities to help low income Londoners remain in inner London, according to a new report by the organisation 4in10.
The report, Inner City Pressures: Voices of low income working families on the complex challenges they face, highlights the issues faced by low-income working families in London. Despite working, it says, these families are struggling to meet the cost of living in inner London, where 35% of children are in poverty, seven percentage points more than in outer London due to higher housing costs and the general cost of living.
4in10 is a network of voluntary and community organisations, Local Authorities and individuals from across London focusing on poverty issues in the capital.
The report says London’s low income working parents have developed a range of coping strategies, adapting and innovating to make the best of their situation for their children. These include shopping at supermarkets when food is reduced, using credit unions, drawing on family support if it is available and sacrificing for their children.
It states: “As the proportion of working families in poverty grows, it’s clear that bold and systemic responses are urgently required.” It says community initiatives like food banks are not sufficient and instead immediate and sustained action from national government, the GLA, local authorities, the voluntary sector, and the business community is needed to tackle key drivers of child poverty including housing, transport, childcare, low paid work, and family-friendly employment.
The report ends with a series of recommendations including boosting incomes through well-paid, family-friendly employment and affordable credit, increasing the number of good quality part-time jobs available in London, incentivising employers to pay the London Living Wage for all employees through the use of business rate discounts and expanding childcare and youth club schemes which provide childcare and include food for children, particularly focusing on holiday and after- and before-school provision. It calls on the Mayor to set up a scheme to promote and recognise innovation in flexible working arrangements by businesses and to use the Mayoral profile and influence to drive childcare expansion and innovation as a key priority. It says the Mayor should urgently “pump-prime” childcare provision in London to ensure a sufficient supply of childcare places so that parents can access the government free childcare offer, not only the two-year old offer, but also for three- and four-year olds by the time the 30 hours free childcare offer is introduced in 2017.
In a blog on the report, Hannah Slater from 4in10 says: “The Mayor could use TfL land around tube stations to create space for flexible childcare provision with reduced rents and business rates, enabling parents to access affordable childcare, increase their working hours, and improve family incomes. The Mayor recognises that his family story is one of how London has helped him succeed; now he has the opportunity to make sure London provides that story to others.”