Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn pledges to end ‘evil of in-work poverty’ if Labour wins general election
PUBLISHED: 14:19 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:26 30 October 2019
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Jeremy Corbyn says levels of deprivation across Islington and England constitute a “national emergency” – and he promises to “end the evil of in-work poverty” if elected Prime Minister on December 12.
The Labour leader's comments come after MPs approved legislation paving the way for the first December election since 1923 on Tuesday - and as new statistics show Islington has some of the highest rates of deprivation among children and older people in the country.
The government published its updated English Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for the first time in four years last month, which estimate 33.6 per cent of older people and 27.5pc of children in the borough are living in impoverished neighbourhoods.
Islington ranks joint fourth with Manchester for the scale of hardship affecting people aged 60 and over, while it ranks 10th overall for deprivation among children.
After his last PMQs battle with Boris Johnson ahead of the poll, Islington North MP Mr Corbyn told the Gazette: "The scale of poverty and deprivation in Islington and across our country shames this Tory government. This is a national emergency which cannot be ignored.
"Poverty and inequality is not inevitable. In the fifth richest country in the world no one should be forced to rely on a food bank to feed their family, no one should sleep rough on our streets and no one should go to work for poverty wages.
"Labour will end the evil of in-work poverty and the next Labour government will end the need for food banks. We will completely transform the way our economy works by bringing in a Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour, ending the inhumane and barbaric Universal Credit, capping rents and building a million genuinely affordable homes."
The IMD measure deprivation by income, employment, education, health, age, crime, barriers to housing and services and living environment.
Islington is one of just nine local authorities to appear in both the top 20 for deprivation among children and older people.
Dot Gibson, secretary of Islington Pensioners Forum, told the Gazette: "The thing is people are always saying, or at least people in the [right-wing] media and the right-wing think tanks are always saying, that pensioners are depriving younger people of their rights because pensioners are doing very well, and it's just not true of course. There are so many older people who are losing ground - they are quite poor because they are getting the basic state pension, which is one of the worst in the developed world.
"There are a huge number of pensioners who are very poor and in Islington it's a borough of two sides, really. If you go from the Angel right through to the Archway you can see the difference - there are big areas of poverty stricken people, with pensioners among them."
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She added: "I think with enormous cuts to their budget the council are doing their very best. Over the years the government has deprived local authorities of money to overcome these problems. [...]
"We have got a general election coming up. I think we have got to fight against austerity.
"I'm on a state pension and because my income is lower I have income credit and live in social housing, so I manage in that sense but there are people who are not in that position."
When the last study was published in 2015, Islington was one of eight London boroughs ranked in the 30pc most deprived local authorities nationally, when it was 24th most impoverished out of England's 317 local authorities.
But the latest indices show, of the London boroughs, only Hackney, Haringey and Kensington and Chelsea remain in the most deprived bracket - and Islington is now rated 54th most deprived in England.
This suggests neighbourhoods in Islington and other London boroughs have become relatively less deprived compared with the rest of England over this period.
That said, Greater London Authority analysis shows Islington is one of five boroughs in the capital that has no areas (such as health or crime) in the least deprived category.
The Junction and Finsbury Park ward areas have been ranked as the first and second most deprived neighbourhoods in the borough, while Holloway and Highbury West have been classified as the least destitute.
The areas in Islington that have climbed the highest since 2015 are Bunhill and St Mary's wards.
The former has risen 6,156 places from to 20,072 most deprived neighbourhood in England, while the latter has jumped 6,065 places to 21,648.
The study has broken England down into 32,844 smaller areas of "neighbourhoods"
The town hall says most of the data used to update the indices comes from between 2014 to 2016, so more recent changes in deprivation may not be represented.
Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council's executive member for finance, performance and community safety, said: "Islington has some of the highest levels of deprivation among children and older people in England. This is completely at odds with the 'wealthy' image of the borough often lazily and misleadingly thrown about. There is a big gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' who live side by side in our borough. Every day, the council works hard to tackle poverty and reduce inequality locally - a task made much harder when it has seen central government cuts of 70 per cent to its core funding since 2010."