One of the best things about Labour’s manifesto is that many of the best ideas in it have been tried and tested by Labour in local government – especially here in Islington.
I’ve been pleased to play a small part in this process through my role on Labour’s NPF and through the LGA Labour Group. Just some of the highlights are:
Universal free school meals
Labour has pledged to introduce free school meals for all primary school children.
Islington Labour’s free school meals for all policy means that every primary school and nursery pupil receives a free hot and nutritious meal every school day. This helps children to focus on learning and removes the stigma of receiving free school meals. The policy has helped each family save £500 per year per child. Islington Labour has invested almost £2 million in providing free school meals for children in the last year.
This policy has helped Islington primary schools become some of the best in the country for helping pupils from poorer backgrounds achieve good exam results.
Labour has pledged to build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes – for genuinely affordable rent or sale – per year by the end of the next Parliament. The need for more genuinely affordable homes is acute in Islington.
Labour run Islington are undertaking the largest council house building programme in 30 years and have delivered 709 new genuinely affordable homes in the past 2 years, prioritised for local people. The Council built 1,919 new genuinely affordable homes 2010-2015.
The Tories plan to force the council to sell off council homes, which will see it lose 300 much-needed council homes every year, and ban lifetime tenancies for council tenancies, which we strongly oppose.
Labour has pledged more secure tenancies and new consumer rights for private renters. They will also look at giving the Mayor of London power to give London renters additional security.
We have introduced targeted landlord licensing schemes to improve standards for private renters and fined landlords who weren’t treating tenants fairly over £50,000.
Labour will ensure security of energy supply, that costs are affordable, and that we meet our climate change targets and transition to a low-carbon economy.
Labour supports the creation of publically owned, locally accountable energy companies, with at least one in every region. Islington Council has built an energy plant – Bunhill Energy Centre – to provide cheaper greener power to local residents. We have supplied over 700 local homes with cheaper greener energy and cut energy bills for 3,000 council tenants by a third.
Labour has pledged a National Education Service, providing better education and life chances for all. It will enable everyone to upskill or retain at any point in their life, without fear of falling into debt with loans, by scrapping fees for adult learners.
Islington Council has helped over 3,000 local people into paid jobs, including over 800 young people, since 2014. We have supported almost 300 young people to start apprenticeships since 2014. We have halved the number of young people not in a job, education or training.
Labour has pledged to raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 and over. Islington became the UK’s first Living Wage council in 2012. All Council staff and 99% of our contractors are now on at least the London Living Wage, including our home carers.