Contractors, Cuts and Crap Pay

I’m a bit late on the uptake here – drinking cricketing commitments in Croydon at the weekend sadly kept me away from the launch of the Lambeth Living Wage campaign, staged at Windrush Square at the weekend.

The Living Wage campaign, as organised by London Citizens, effectively calls for a:

“London weighted minimum wage, which takes into account the higher living costs of London. The figure currently stands at £7.60 per hour; £1.87 above the National Minimum Wage.”

It is a fine principle, and one which you would expect any local authority to be fully signed up to, especially so with May 6th creeping up on us ever closer. There’s votes in them there local authority jobs, donchta know.

Anyway – back to Windrush Square and the Lambeth launch of the Living Wage at the weekend. All of the local poltico-arti were in attendance – yer man @ChukaUmunna, the @LambethLabour cabinet, @Chris4Streatham. Oh – Councillor Lumsden as well.

Speeches were made, cheesy grins were gurned for the cameras and the electorate in Lambeth can now vote sleep easy, knowing that their Nu Labour cabinet fully backs the pledge to pay council staff a Living Wage for London.

Hang on – what about all those outsourced council jobs, I hear you ask?

What about Veolia Environmental Services (the fine chaps who sweep our streets and empty our bins,) or even our friends from Greenwich Leisure Limited, the very decent folk who manage what is left of Lambeth’s leisure facilities?

Surly a pledge to offer a Living Wage from the local council would cover all of these pimped out public services?

Um…

Yer man Joseph Healy, the Green party PPC for Vauxhall, was also at the Windrush Square event:

“A young chap from London Citizens read out a formal statement saying: ‘Councillor Reed, you told us some months ago that all contracted staff in Lambeth were paid a Living Wage but we have found out that this is not the case. We met with the Head of Procurement and she told us that Veolia staff are not receiving it.”

Blimey.

The problem you see when you privatise outsource so many local authority jobs as part of a mutualisation of local government, is that you also effectively outsource responsibility and accountability.

Not on the pay roll, Guv? Don’t expect a Living Wage then.

This is an incredibly important issue for Lambeth. The borough currently has the seventh worst level of child poverty in London. We are electing politicians on May 6th who have the power to come up with a local solution to help raise income levels in Lambeth. Not paying a London Living Wage is only going to perpetuate the levels of child poverty in the borough.

Maybe the solution would be to outsource the @lambeth_council cabinet posts as well. This would wipe out the existence of the career politician in Lambeth, able to trouser just short of £40k for a local politicians job.

The Living Wage is a campaign that the Lambeth Green party has put its full support behind. Lone Green Councillor Thackray has tried to get the council to endorse the policy. The ruling Labour group blocked her efforts.

So yeah, it’s great to do the Windrush Square PR meet ‘n greet, but it’s all a bit pointless if you are pledging a false promise (something of a recurring theme on m’blog in recent weeks…)

I’ve asked for clarification from @cllrstevereed, only to receive back:

“We extended it to all staff earning below it when we took over and are signed up to extending it to contract staff.”

So the Living Wage is “signed up” to be extended to contract staff, but it still hasn’t been rolled out. Which is a bit rubbish really, considering the meet ‘n greet around Windrush Square was also an election friendly opportunity meet the voters in Lambeth.

And they say the future is a coop council, with more services outsourced to save more money.

Mmm – I wonder exactly *where* that money will be saved from?

*Wednesday 27th, 18:30 update*

Blimey!

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