Islington council unveils action plan to tackle poverty and inequality

PUBLISHED: 10:43 19 October 2011

Islington Council leader Catherine West

Islington Council leader Catherine West


»A new action plan targeting deprivation has been revealed following an investigation into the gap between rich and poor in the borough.

Fairer Islington schemes

* Pay at least the London Living Wage of £8.30 an hour to all directly employed staff and encourage contractors to pay it

* Ensure best-paid council employee earns no more than 10 times the salary of the lowest-paid

* Help businesses support young people through apprenticeships, work experience and mentoring

* Develop an alternative form of credit to pay-day loans through the Islington Credit Union, and investigate regulatory compliance among pawn-broking, gold-buying and pay-day loan companies

* Pilot a good neighbours scheme to reduce social isolation

* Set up a single telephone number for reporting anti-social behaviour

* Re-let under-occupied housing to over-crowded households by helping people who want to down-size

* Deliver at least 1,800 new homes for social rent over the next three years

* Reduce amount of fast-food outlets near schools, or control number of new ones that open

The council has outlined 54 commitments and projects to combat poverty, reduce crime and increase employment, in response to the wide-ranging Islington Fairness Commission report.

At Thursday’s full council meeting, Lib Dems claimed the plan, Fairer Islington, was similar to an action plan they had produced last year.

Cllr John Gilbert, shadow executive member for finance, accused the administration of using Dr Who’s time-travelling Tardis and taking their ideas for the document.

He said: “The executive has taken a ride in a Tardis and gone back to 2010 because this plan for a Fairer Islington looks incredibly like the one we introduced in February 2010.

“This new one is full of good Lib Dem initiatives.”

But Cllr Catherine West, Islington Council leader, said: “Your plan was more about a cosmetic change to the borough. We are talking about a grand transformation of peoples’ lives.

“While the borough looks better cosmetically, there are still huge numbers who lack training and careers and access to a decent life.”

Fairer Islington strategies include paying the London Living Wage to all directly employed council staff and creating nearly 2,000 new affordable homes.

‘Clear vision’

Cllr Gary Doolan, member for St Peter’s ward, said: “We believe this sets out a clear vision of what kind of borough we want to live in and we should do whatever we can to achieve our goal.”

Prof Richard Wilkinson, co-chairman of the Islington Fairness Commission, said: “Islington has some of the starkest contrasts between wealth and poverty in the country and I welcome this action plan to address that inequality.

“Large differences in income and wealth put huge strains on society and damage us all.”

The Fairer Islington plan can be viewed on the council website.

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