On May 6th, we will be invited to vote in a new Mayor for London and 25 members of the London Assembly – one year later than planned. Together, they make up the Greater London Authority (GLA), which governs the Capital and our daily lives to some extent.
With a whopping budget of £19bn, the Mayor is responsible for Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and has an active role in housing, planning and the environment as well as limited powers over the response to disease outbreak emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the work done by the current Mayor was set out in a big document called the London Plan. It took three years to write and was published earlier this month. The Early Year’s (EY) section on the plan refers to the work that has already been completed such as the three London EY hubs, the EY Leadership Programme and the EY Business Partnership.Whilst much of the campaigns are based on post Covid recovery, I wanted to know what the new Mayor will and can do to help address the 600,000 children living in poverty – many of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19?
The plan acknowledges that child poverty is unacceptable and states that with the right support and opportunities, families can escape poverty. Sadly, the pandemic has shone a light on the grim reality of child poverty in the UK. Prior to this, 4.3 million children were growing up trapped in poverty. New research from the Resolution Foundation predicts that by the time of the next General Election, 730,000 more young people will be caught in poverty’s grip.
Sadiq Khan made it clear in the London Plan that we can end child poverty in London if we help the poorest families to raise their incomes and therefore help parents work. That requires us to deliver more childcare, not least given the findings from the report produced by our current Mayor in February which suggested that 64% of early years nursery providers in London are at risk of closure.
So we need the new Mayor to make it clear that supporting the Early Years is an essential part of our city infrastructure. This would align with the recent pronouncement from the newly appointed Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza that early years needed a rocket boost and Sir Kevan Collins the School Recovery Czar stating that the Early Years has got to be central to the recovery plan.
So, my top 5 questions to the London Mayoral candidates are:
What would your question be? Tweet me @JuneOSullivan #MayorforEY
At a Glance – Quick Snapshot of Ten Candidates Campaign Promises
Sadiq Khan, Our Current Mayor says he will put employment at the heart of his campaign and would “bang the drum” for London to attract the jobs, tourism and investment. He has also called for a programme of economic recovery similar to the post-war one of 1945. And commits to continues to tackle crime, build council homes and clean the city’s air so London is a carbon neutral city by 2030.
Sian Berry Green Party wants to create green jobs by investing in clean energy and warmer homes. She wants to make it safer and easier to walk and cycle. She will raise the London Living wage to £14 an hour to lift workers out of poverty. And finally, she will tackle racial injustice.
Shaun Bailey – Conservatives promises safer streets with 8,000 more police officers and a new youth centre staffed by 4000 youth workers in every borough. 100,000 homes to be sold for £100,000 each so first-time buyers under forty can get on the housing ladder. He wants clean air but also considers reversing the congestion charge hike and scrapping plans to charge to drive into outer London.
Luisa Porritt- Liberal Democrat wants to reverse what she describes as the £2bn polluting Silvertown Tunnel Road Project. She plans to introduce an apprenticeship hub in London so that young people can find opportunities easily, and a programme to help businesses maximise take-up of the apprenticeship levy and lead the creation of new, skills-relevant courses. She says the pandemic has disproportionately hit the employment prospects of young Londoners. Like the other contestants, her recovery plan also has a big focus Jobs, Homes, and Clean Air.
Mandu Reid Women’s Equality Party is campaigning on a platform of social justice, gender equality and inclusion. She is the only person who talked about Early Years asking for a bailout for the nursery sector given a staggering 50 per cent of early years providers are at risk of closure and for the Universal Credit lift to be continued, as well as complimented by an uplift to child benefit.
Vanessa Hudson Animal Welfare Party: Campaigning to push for carbon net zero status in London by 2025, prioritise cleaning up the Thames, and the development of vertical farms.
Kam Balayev Renew Party wants a Universal Basic Income, cheaper transport costs and more support for small businesses.
Laurence Fox Reclaim Party Actor, standing on “anti-woke” platform against “extreme political correctness.
Nims Obunge: Pastor and chief executive of knife-crime awareness organisation The Peace Alliance.
Farah London: Focus is on the cost of living in London and public safety. She also plans to reduce the congestion charge in London.