Our Struggling Unemployed Can’t Be Left to Flounder

The government has spent this lockdown punishing Londoners, with attacks on TfL funding, the existence of the Mayor of London, and free travel for school children.

But despite them using the economy as an excuse to lift lockdown restrictions early, putting thousands at risk, they’re not investing in London’s economy or protecting people at risk of falling into poverty.

It’s great to see that the Evening Standard agrees with our Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper, that the government doesn’t want to build back better – it doesn’t seem to want to rebuild at all. Read Leonie’s letter and the Evening Standard’s response below!

Last week, the Office for National Statistics published grim figures showing that the UK economy contracted by almost a tenth last year, the worst slump in 300 years.

Government figures have also revealed that their Kickstart jobs creation scheme has struggled to kickstart much at all. Since it started in September, only 2,000 work placements have been filled. With thousands of Londoners facing losing their livelihoods, these figures should be ringing alarm bells in the Treasury.

Ministers need get a grip on replacing the jobs lost during the pandemic. They need to commit to long-term investment in the green economy. As the scale of the downturn becomes clearer, the Government must strengthen our welfare system and stop more Londoners from falling into poverty. A good start would be to retain the uplift in universal credit payments beyond April.

Leonie CooperAssembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, London Assembly economy spokeswoman

It is certainly true that London has borne the brunt of the savage economic downturn over the course of the pandemic. We agree with you that the Government should not abandon the worst-off by scrapping the Universal Credit uplift before the emergency is over. It also needs to offer more help to London businesses. But London has proved itself a remarkably resilient place and we remain optimistic is has a bright - and sustainable - future.

Jonathan PrynnEvening Standard