It is widely acknowledged that when Boris leaves the Mayoralty next year he will leave behind a trail of broken promises, but perhaps the most shameful of these is his broken promise to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) parents: that their children will not have to struggle with the same disadvantages that they endured.
A recent report by The Runnymede Trust found that ethnic inequalities in London have risen substantially throughout Boris Johnson’s time in office. With disturbing levels of unemployment, poorer health outcomes, and overcrowded housing, Boris’ London continues to pose a bleak reality for many ethnic minority communities.
We’ve seen a welcome rise in educational attainment levels amongst black students, but this has failed to translate into improved employment opportunities. Boris’ misleading jobs pledge has had particularly negative ramifications for ethnic minorities in the capital. Despite promising to generate 200,000 jobs by 2016, recent figures have revealed that, with a year to go, the Mayor has only delivered just over half of these, which just exacerbates the situation by increasing competition for the jobs that are available in a job market that reaps fewer rewards for BAME applicants relative to other groups.
Boris’ failure to bridge the gap in employment opportunities between BAME and White British Londoners is mirrored by a stark disparity in earnings. In his ‘2020 Vision’ the Mayor pledged to make the Living Wage ‘the norm’, but on his watch we’ve witnessed a sharp fall in the percentage of employers paying the London Living Wage. The impact of his failure to tackle poverty wages is most apparent amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees, with nearly half (44%) earning less than the London Living Wage.
When I challenged Mr Johnson on why his Mayoralty has led to increasing inequality for ethnic minorities at a Mayor’s Question Time back in February 2014 he admitted that ethnic minorities were being handed an unfair deal when it came to accessing the opportunities that our great city provides.
I might be forgiven, therefore, for expecting him to provide me with some concrete steps he’s taken over the past year to remedy the situation, when I challenged him again at Mayor’s Question Time yesterday.
True to form, however, Boris failed to give a coherent answer and simply pointed to his record of recruiting young BAME people to his minimum-wage apprenticeship scheme; something that will do little to help the millions of other ethnic minority Londoners who are falling further behind when it comes to accessing employment opportunities, housing and health services.
The Runnymede Trust’s report is a sad read for London’s BAME communities, highlighting yet another failure of Boris Johnson’s reign as Mayor. Despite all the promises, pledges and puff the evidence shows that Boris is on course to leave a shameful legacy of a more unequal London than the one he inherited in 2008. For everyone this is a tragedy but, once again, it will hit BAME communities hardest – and I will continue to push, as I always have, for equality to be put at the heart of the Mayoralty as we approach the London elections in 2016.
Today, I launch the report, Falling Further Behind, which looks at the impact the cost-of-living-crisis is having on vulnerable people across London, and those protected by the Equality Act 2010.
The report finds that, despite being one of the wealthiest cities in the world, the most vulnerable people in London are falling further behind the rest: 9 out of 10 disabled Londoners are concerned about how to meet the rising costs of their energy bills; 92% of BAME Londoners worry about affording their travel expenses; and 75% of young people across our capital find it hard to pay their rent.
It’s unacceptable that vulnerable Londoners are bearing the brunt of the policies of the Mayor and the Government at Westminster. Boris is wrong to believe that inequality is natural or essential and this report gives firm recommendations that he can take to close the inequality gap in London.
Today’s report is a rebuttal to the Mayor’s ludicrous claim that vulnerable people in society are ‘cornflakes’ that require inequality and envy to ‘shake’ them to the top. This report outlines just how misguided his ‘cornflake economics’ is and it is he that needs to be shaken into action. On Wednesday, the government will present its budget, four years in to their term, and the truth is stark, as we already know, we are not ‘all in this together’. This report shows that it is those already marginalised who have been hit the hardest by the cuts.
Rest assured, I will continue to challenge the Mayor, as I have always done, to address the inherent inequality across London and this report provides an excellent tool through which to continue the fight.
I would like to thank Areeq Chowdhury and Abena Oppong-Asare in the Labour Group at City Hall for their tremendous work in writing this report, and you can access a full copy of the report by clicking here.