A huge plan to tackle poverty, containing over 50 recommendations to improve the borough, has been approved by Lewisham Council
The Lewisham Poverty Commission’s plan, which was released in October, covers four main themes: secure employment, child poverty, community resilience and housing.
The average house price in the borough is 14 times higher than the average income, and private rents increased by 40 per cent between 2011 and 2016 – higher than any other area in London.
The commission suggests that a local tenants’ union should be created to offer advice to residents so that it could help tenants enforce their rights.
Bharat Mehta, CEO of the Trust for London, was on the board of the commission. He told East London Lines: “Lewisham already has the social capital to do well, it just has to be harnessed better. Employment is a big issue for Lewisham because over 60 per cent of residents work outside of the borough. I think work needs to be done to create jobs in the area that are well-paid, not just minimum wage jobs.”
Six per cent of Lewisham’s working age population has no qualifications, and the commission found that jobs were only found on two ends of a spectrum – either very highly skilled or requiring very little skill. The gap in the middle of the skilled employment makes it difficult for residents on the lower end of the spectrum to progress into better-paid jobs.
Mehta said: “I think housing and secure employment are the areas that need particular attention in London, not just Lewisham, because I think community resilience comes from improvement in the other areas. If people have secure, well-paid jobs, and affordable homes then, community resilience will automatically improve.”
Councillor Joe Dromey, chair of the Lewisham Poverty Commission, spoke to the Council about the importance of the recommendations. He said: “We live in one of the greatest places in the world – London – and yet, many people in our borough are not able to share in that prosperity. No one deserves to live in poverty.”
Councillor Colin Elliott, of Grove Park, supported the report, saying: “You have to recognise the problems before being able to solve them. The task is huge. Younger generations have become angry. They’re angry knowing that they won’t do as well as the previous generations. This report is timely and crucial.”
Mehta said: “What is good about the commission was that it isn’t about the council and what they should be doing. It is about what should be done to enable Lewisham residents to help themselves.”
To read the full report by the Lewisham Poverty Commission, go here.