Al-Mizan Charitable Trust is a Muslim grant-funder which supports disadvantaged people and deprived communities across the UK, regardless of their faith or cultural background.

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Response from Sian Berry of the Green Party (London Mayoral Elections Open Letter)

In April 2016, we wrote to the candidates in the London Mayoral Elections, asking them to summarise their main policies and ideas about how they will address the rising levels of poverty across London. To read the letter, click here

We have had our third response from Siân Berry of the Green Party. You can read her response below: 

 

Dear Ali Khimji,

My name is Adam, I’m writing on behalf of Sian Berry, the Green Party Mayoral candidate, in response to the Al-Mizan Charitable Trust’s request for Sian’s policies on poverty, for circulation to your donors and supporters.

Sian takes the issue of poverty and inequality extremely seriously and we feel that our policies are an ambitious, root-and-branch response to this rising problem. Your letter covered the issues of housing, rough sleeping, food poverty and the living wage, so I will address these in turn.

At the root of a lot of London’s poverty problems is housing. A decent, affordable home is a basic human right and should be at the heart of any civilised city. However London's housing market is broken. Most young people can’t buy their own home and pay an huge proportion of their wages in rent. London needs homes for all its vast range of people to function effectively: a city that is only affordable for the very well off is not sustainable or desirable.

Sian will:

-          Support renters’ organisations by helping to establish a London Renters Union with core costs and office space funded by City Hall, but with the union operating entirely independently of the GLA, which it will also need to lobby and influence. It will work with the Mayor and London Assembly to lobby for radical reforms, giving the Mayor the power to bring in rent controls and require more stable tenancy agreements

-          Bring Londoners into City Hall to rewrite the London Plan, which has become a charter for bad developers. The new London Plan will give citizens’ groups a real opportunity to shape the future of development.

-          Set targets for new homes of different tenures based on need, supporting our aim of building 50,000 homes a year and include at least 16,000 social rented homes and 10,000 low cost rent and ownership homes in this target.

 

Homelessness and rough sleeping is unacceptable in the 21st century. The Government’s policies mean that increasing numbers of people in London are living without proper homes in temporary accommodation or living on the streets. Rough sleeping has unacceptably doubled in London in recent years. We have a detailed range of policies to help deal with the causes of homelessness but we will also provide greater direct support to deal with this immediate, growing crisis.

Sian will:

-          Make sure London has a ‘housing first’ approach to end rough sleeping and including places for at least 2,000 former rough sleepers and people moving on from hostels in our housing plans, together with support for the private rental sector with deposits and advice.

-          Offer the services of our not-for-profit housing company to self-help co-operatives who can work with homeless people to bring empty homes back into use and help them house themselves.

-          Set up a Homelessness Board in City Hall, bringing in public services like the NHS, London Councils, the Metropolitan Police and specialist services to ensure a more joined-up approach is offered for  pathways out of homelessness, particularly for those with multiple needs to make sure they do not slip through the cracks.

-          Make sure our housing policies form part of an integrated London strategy for improved mental health. Overcrowding and poor or precarious living conditions can lead to illness, and people with mental health problems are too often left to fall into homelessness.

-          Back a new law to prevent people on the streets being turned away by councils and extending the City Hall ‘No First Night Out’ programme, with more GLA buildings and land used for emergency shelters particularly in the winter months.

-          Lobby London boroughs and the Government to protect homelessness funding and pressing for the London Councils grant scheme to be taken over by City Hall to protect essential services that operate across multiple boroughs.

-          Increase support for asylum seekers and EU migrants at risk of destitution and homelessness who have very little access to statutory help with housing or benefits, campaigning for more devolution of funds and increased aid via the European Union.

 

Food poverty is a huge issue in London. We know that the challenges people face in accessing healthy, affordable food, and doing so in a sustainable way are as great as ever in London in 2016, with more than 100,000 Londoners turning to food banks last year for help. 

Sian will:

-          Develop a co-ordinated and strategy response to food poverty in London, working with boroughs, to help protect and extend meals on wheels and free school meals, and deal with problems such as ‘holiday hunger’ when school meals are not available. Charities and voluntary groups are a vital part of the picture, as are strong policies to promote the London Living Wage and better monitoring of the impact of welfare reform at a London level to help with national-level advocacy and campaigning.

-          We will work with boroughs to map food poverty and identify opportunities to improve access to affordable healthy food by introducing new street markets and allotments in areas where it is hard to buy or grow food.

-          In the London Plan, require boroughs to create exclusion zones around schools where fast food shops aren’t allowed, and to resist a saturation of fast food shops in any part of their borough.

-          Support and significantly expand London’s street markets, provide for them in major regeneration projects, and drive forward the recommendations of recent reviews by trade associations, the Government, Parliament, City Hall and the London First Retail Commission.

-          End the sponsorship of sporting events by junk food companies, and ensure all events given support by the GLA group offer healthy food options.

-          At a national level support the introduction of a sugary drinks tax to help fund measures to improve children’s health, including school meals.

-          Support schools, hospitals, prisons and care homes to grow their own food, offer more healthy food including organic vegetarian and vegan options, and remove all junk food and drinks vending machines

-          Introduce standards in the London Plan so that every new home has space to grow food, whether in a garden, large balcony, roof garden or allotment plot.

 

In terms of the living wage, the Greens on the London Assembly pioneered the concept of the London Living Wage, and will push for its extension to the one in five Londoners who are not yet paid at this level, and Greens will also work to break down the discriminatory barriers that prevent people from finding rewarding jobs and contributing fully to London’s culture and economy.

Sian will:

-          Extend City Hall’s London Living Wage requirements to include all the purchasing contracts within the GLA group, not just direct contractors.

-          Incentivise small firms via contracts and advertising discounts to sign up to be accredited Living Wage Employers (currently over 60% of small firms in the city pay the London Living Wage but very few are signed up to the scheme).

-          Introduce anonymised CVs in all GLA Group recruitment and work with employers to employ it more widely. This will help to ensure any conscious or unconscious biases are removed from the job application process.

-          Create at least 150,000 high-quality apprenticeships aimed at young people under 25, all paying at least the London Living Wage with half a day’s off-the-job learning per week.

 

I hope this is helpful and if there is anything else that I can assist you with, please do get in contact!

 

Best wishes,

Adam McGibbon

Campaign Manager (London Mayoral & Assembly Elections)

https://london.greenparty.org.uk/

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