5,533 emergency food parcels handed out in Enfield & Haringey

There were 5,533 of three-day emergency food supplies given out in Enfield & Haringey between April and September 2018, according to new mid-year figures released this week by the Trussell Trust. 1,884 of these were provided to children. In response, local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, has renewed her calls “to slam the brakes on the shambolic rollout of Universal Credit” and for the Government to “stick to their pledge and put an end to austerity”.

According to the same figures, food bank usage has also surged by 23% across the capital, with 72,239 emergency food supplies being handed out to Londoners, and 25,434 going to children.

The Trussell Trust have attributed the increase in food bank referrals to low incomes and benefit levels being insufficient to keep up with basic living costs. The charity has also cited Universal Credit payment delays as another significant driver of food poverty.

Universal Credit began to be rolled out for new claimants in Enfield in November 2017 and Haringey in October 2018.

In August, the Mayor of London called for the Government to pause the rollout of Universal Credit to ensure problems with late payments and other longstanding issues with the benefits system can be fully resolved. This call received backing from Ms McCartney.

The release of the data coincides with the launch of a two-week investigation by the United Nations into the rising levels of poverty in the UK.

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM said:

“It is alarming to see such a significant increase in the number of families and children being forced to depend upon emergency food supplies. The fact that food banks are becoming normalised in our society should seriously concern us all.

“Food poverty is a complex issue, but as the Trussell Trust have identified, there are certain key drivers behind it and these must be addressed without delay.

“These shocking figures should send a powerful message to the Government that they need to urgently reverse the damage done by austerity, lift people out of low pay and slam the brakes on the rollout of Universal Credit”.

Pause Universal Credit roll out in Haringey

Universal Credit will be rolled out for some new claimants in Haringey this month, but fresh calls have been made to pause the process. This comes after a leading charity warned that moving more people onto Universal Credit could trigger a significant increase in foodbank use. Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, warned that there was a “growing abundance of proof that Universal Credit will force some families to choose between feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads.”

New claimants accessing Tottenham and Wood Green Jobcentres in Haringey will be moved onto Universal Credit this month. However, in a report published on Friday (5th October), the Trussell Trust said benefit transitions, likely caused by the roll out of Universal Credit, were accounting for more foodbank referrals. According to the Trust, waiting for the first payment, and the transition to a new system, were pushing more people into poverty.

Last November, the Government reduced waiting times for Universal Credit from six to five weeks. However, in August, the Mayor of London joined calls to pause its roll out, saying that “cuts to funding, IT problems, late payments and a lack of support in navigating the complex claim process has seen significant hardship for many Londoners, pushing some to the brink of homelessness.”

More than 135,000 Londoners are claiming Universal Credit. However, it is expected that funding cuts to Universal Credit will see a £250m a year decrease for claimants in the capital by 2020/21.

Universal Credit combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credits, into one payment. Ms McCartney said that whilst she did not disagree with the principle of simplifying the system, the implementation of Universal Credit isn’t working, and it “risks doing more harm than good”.

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“The evidence is stacking up that the Government’s punitive welfare changes are pushing more and more Londoners into the cold grip of destitution. The implementation of Universal Credit clearly isn’t working and it risks doing more harm than good.

“This report is the latest in a growing abundance of proof that Universal Credit will force some families to choose between feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads. That’s a cruel position to put people in.

“Whilst it’s fantastic we have organisations like the Trussell Trust providing a vital safety net for vulnerable people, they shouldn’t have to exist in the first place. With the Prime Minister finally pledging an end to austerity, pausing the roll out of Universal Credit would be an indication she is serious about actually delivering on that promise.”

Fast food companies should pay London Living Wage

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, is supporting fast food workers in Enfield & Haringey in their efforts to call for a living wage and strengthened rights.

Today, hospitality and restaurant staff of McDonald’s, TGI Fridays and Wetherspoons, along with couriers for Uber Eats and Deliveroo, will be coming together across the capital to protest against the injustices faced by fast food workers.

Those participating in the strike are calling for a living wage, an end to precarious contracts and union recognition. The strike action is being supported by unions such as the BFAWU, Unite, GMB and the IWGB.

Since coming into office, the Mayor of London has championed a London Living Wage, which he increased to £10.20 per hour last year. Ahead of the next London Living Wage rise which will be announced on 5th November, over 1,500 employers in the capital have now signed up to the scheme.

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM said:

“It is disgraceful that Londoners who are employed by hugely profitable companies such as McDonalds and Uber, are not paid a living wage or given a proper contract.

“It is high-time that these employers listen to the repeated calls from the Mayor of London, and their own workers, to adopt the London Living Wage.

“Sadly, thousands of workers in the capital are being left in limbo by their employers’ stubborn refusal to guarantee basic rights in the workplace”.

London Living Wage rise set to benefit Enfield and Haringey residents

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced a rise in the London Living Wage to £10.20 an hour. Joanne McCartney AM, who is the Mayor’s representative on the Living Wage Commission, has welcomed this decision as it will give a boost to hard working families across London, including in Enfield and Haringey.

The London Living Wage, which is set by the Living Wage Foundation and is separate to the Government’s National Living Wage will increase from £9.75 an hour to £10.20 an hour for workers over 25.

There has also been an increase in the number of London employers signed up to the scheme, with 1,502 now taking part. This is an increase of 470 in London in the past year.

The new rate was announced at an event at Lush’s headquarters in Central London where the headteacher of The Willow Primary School, Haringey spoke about the benefits of being a Living Wage Employer.

Labour London Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“As a Living Wage Commissioner, I am pleased with today’s announcement. Too many families are struggling with low pay and this will be welcome relief for many families across Enfield and Haringey.

“I hope that more employers across my constituency can pay their staff the London Living Wage so we can continue to fight in-work poverty. It is only right that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.

“It is also good for business too as they stand a better chance of succeeding when employees feel valued and fairly rewarded.”

Dawn Ferdinand, Headteacher of The Willow Primary School, Haringey said:

“Being a Living Wage accredited employer has meant a lot to my school community.  It means that everyone who works for The Willow Primary School and Broadwaters Children’s Centre gets a fair hourly pay for their hard work.

“As the Headteacher of the school, I am proud that staff are valued for their contribution; I am such a strong advocate of the Living Wage because I see the difference it makes to my school staff and the impact it could have on those families struggling to make ends meet every day.”