Islington Labour’s manifesto 2018

Islington Labour has launched its manifesto for the 2018 local elections, with a commitment to make Islington a fairer place for all by tackling the issues that matter for the many, not the few.

Whilst Islington is a wonderful place, we know that too many people still struggle to have decent housing, are out of work and do not have the same chances in life as others. If we are fortunate enough to once again secure the support of local people at the election, this manifesto will help us to make Islington a fairer place for all.

Despite the Tory Government imposing cuts on Islington Council that will see its core central government funding cut by 70 per cent in a decade, we are determined to protect vital frontline services – keeping all libraries open, maintaining weekly bin collections and protecting services for older residents.

The elections on 3 May are a chance for local people to vote for Islington Labour to make our borough a fairer place for all, and to send a clear message to the Tory Government that Islington rejects its unfair policies, especially their cuts to the police, which have seen Islington lose 240 police officers since 2010.

The manifesto, which has been developed over the last year through engagement with local Labour Party members, has received the full support of Jeremy Corbyn MP, Emily Thornberry MP and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.  Like any document, it’s stronger because of the inclusive way it was written.

The 40-page, 14,750-word manifesto was launched by Jeremy Corbyn MP, Emily Thornberry MP and myself. You can read my speech to the event here.

The manifesto includes commitments to –

  • build at least 550 more new council homes, as we deliver 1,900 new genuinely affordable homes by 2022, and crack down on rogue private landlords;
  • support another 4,000 local people into work and guarantee support for young people to get high-quality apprenticeships;
  • guarantee 100 hours of work-related experience by 16 for all young people and invest £1 million in targeted support for those at risk of turning to crime;
  • help people with the cost of living through council-run not-for-profit energy provider, Angelic Energy, and keeping Council Tax below the London average;
  • protect vital frontline services, despite massive ongoing Tory Government cuts, ensuring all libraries, children’s centres and Council youth centres remain open, as well as maintaining weekly bin collections and support services for older people.

Summary of manifesto commitments –

Decent, secure and genuinely affordable homes for all –

  • Tackling Islington’s housing crisis is a clear priority for Islington Labour, and the manifesto commits to building at least 550 new council homes, prioritised for local people, as part of plans to deliver 1,900 new genuinely affordable homes by the end of the 2022/23 Council year.
  • The document also makes clear that the Council’s planning policy for the Holloway Prison site will be enforced, ensuring that at least 50 per cent of the homes built are genuinely affordable.
  • The programme of building new council homes in under-used spaces on estates, such as garages, will be accelerated in consultation with local communities, so that estate improvements are community-led.
  • Private renters will also benefit from a new crack down on rogue landlords, with a new landlord licensing scheme along Seven Sisters Road and in Finsbury Park, as well as support from Council advisers when tenants are treated unfairly.
  • In another first, Islington Labour will help give those people in desperate need of new genuinely affordable housing a voice in consultations about new developments, by developing ways to consult people on the housing waiting list.
  • If re-elected, an Islington Labour-run Council will act on the recommendations of the Fair Futures Commission, giving young people in the borough a real say in the planning process for new developments.
  • Homelessness outreach services will be extended with co-ordination brought back under Council-control.
  • A further £15 million of investment will be made in tackling damp in Council homes and plans to create some communal drying facilities on estates will also be brought forward, listening to the concerns of residents who face issues from over-crowding and damp.

Helping people into work and delivering an inclusive economy for all –

  • Building on successful programmes that have helped more than 4,000 local unemployed people into work over the last 4 years, Islington Labour will set itself the ambitious target of supporting another 4,000 local people into decent and secure jobs. This work will support those who are often the furthest away from the job market – residents with ill-health, single mothers and BAME people – who face particular barriers to securing work.
  • A new ‘In-Work Progression’ programme will also help residents facing challenges from in-work poverty to gain new skills through an expanded lifelong learning programme, including the return of ‘night schools’, so people can learn at a time that suits them.
  • Plans also include a new skills strategy to help deliver an inclusive economy that benefits local people, and that considers the potential impact of Brexit on the borough.
  • Building on the recent announcement of a £2 million investment in new affordable workspaces for local entrepreneurs and start-ups, local planning policies will be updated to secure more genuinely affordable workspace in new developments, and unused garages on estates will also be converted for this purpose.

Making Islington the best place for all young people to grow up –

  • Islington Labour are proud to be one of the only council administrations to have protected youth services for all. All Council-run youth centres will remain open, and specialist targeted youth work will be prioritised to support young people at risk of turning to crime.
  • Acting on the recommendations of the pioneering Fair Futures Commission, ‘No Ball Games’ signs across the borough will be reviewed in consultation with communities, in order to help make the borough more welcoming to children and young people.
  • The Commission also recommended that young people needed more support to be ready for the world of work, so in addition to guaranteeing 100 hours of work-related experience by 16, the Council will work with schools, colleges and employers to develop industry led careers advice tailored to the needs of young people.
  • Islington’s schools have transformed since they lagged in the bottom 20 local areas in the country in 2008, with 9 in 10 primary schools now being rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. The Council will work with all local schools to continue to improve results and support all schools to have plans in place to become ‘Outstanding’ schools.
  • In yet another first, an Islington Labour-run Council will bring forward plans to address ‘holiday hunger’, where some children go hungry in school holidays, through genuinely affordable holiday clubs.
  • Tapping into the tremendous cultural opportunities and assets of the borough, the Council will aim for each child in an Islington school to have experienced 11 cultural experiences in the borough by the time they are in Year 11.

Helping people with the cost of living –

  • With the cost of living squeeze continuing for many local families, combined with the Tory Government’s freeze on social security support, Islington Labour will protect the pioneering policy of providing Free School Meals for all primary and nursery pupils – saving families £500 per year per child.
  • London’s first council-run not-for-profit energy provider established for 100 years, Angelic Energy, will continue to grow and help local get a fairer deal on their gas and electricity bills.
  • Council Tax in Islington will also remain below the London average.

Valuing all residents, keeping Islington a caring borough –

  • The £100 Older Person’s Council Tax discount, introduced by Islington in 2010, will continue, as will protection for the least well-off through the Council Tax Support Scheme and foster carers will be exempt from paying Council Tax.
  • Older residents, and those with complex needs, will be supported to remain living in their own homes with the right community-based support provided, and carers will continue to be supported.
  • Loneliness in Islington amongst those aged 65 and above is the 5th highest in London, so Islington Labour will make it a requirement of all relevant Council-provided and commissioned services to reduce loneliness.
  • More will be done ensure a genuine parity of esteem between physical and mental health services in the borough, with specific services commissioned to help improve access to mental health services for BAME residents, who are not always receiving the support they need.
  • Islington Labour is proud to make clear in the manifesto its belief that the NHS must remain free at the point of use, and be publicly owned and publicly accountable. We will campaign against NHS privatisation and will not support any plans through the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) that lead to cuts in services. We will work with health partners towards delivering a fully integrated health and social care system.
  • Voluntary sector groups will be helped, along with local businesses, to win Council contracts, with new ‘social value’ considerations included in procurement exercises.
  • Despite the Council’s gender pay gap report finding that the median rate of pay for women at the Council was 12.61 per cent higher than for men, we will go beyond what is required by law through the gender pay gap report, and assess pay levels among Council employees by gender, not just overall, but grade by grade and take any action necessary, as well as creating a new Women and Girls Champion.

Creating a healthier environment for all –

  • The manifesto reaffirms Islington Labour’s commitment to making the borough a healthier place for all by improving the local environment.
  • In addition to repeating calls for London to be made diesel engine free by 2025, Islington Labour will deliver 400 new electric charging points over the next 4 years and will take action to improve air quality, especially at local schools by closing streets at opening and closing times.
  • The manifesto also sets the bold ambition of making the borough energy self-sufficient within a generation, through an expansion of Bunhill Energy Centre-type power plants in the borough, as well as working towards the borough having net zero carbon emissions.
  • In a bold set of commitments, the manifesto commits to campaigning for and delivering further transformations to the borough’s infrastructure to promote healthy streets and liveable neighbourhoods through walking, cycling and public transport use. This includes –
    • working with Transport for London to bring forward schemes to remove the gyratories at Highbury Corner, Old Street, Nag’s Head and King’s Cross.
    • backing protected cycle routes from Old Street to Clerkenwell Road, along the Camden Road and Seven Sisters Corridor, along the Holloway Road corridor and Upper Street, subject to TfL funding.
    • This is in addition to installing 400 more bike storage facilities on streets, as well as on council estates, over the next 4 years.
    • A cycle improvement in every ward is promised, as is a review of all streets in line with London Cycle Design Standards.
  • Plans to improve recycling rates through advertising and education programmes are promoted, alongside a commitment to expanding the street cleaning service to ensure every street is cleaned on every day, Monday to Friday, and three new ‘rapid-response’ crews will be created to react swiftly to reports of fly-tipping.

Creating a safer community for all –

  • Responding to local people’s concerns about crime and community safety, Islington Labour will work with the police through collaboration and constructive challenge.
  • Despite Tory cuts, which have seen 240 police officers cut from Islington, we will tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, working alongside the police through the Council’s Integrated Gangs Team.
  • The manifesto makes clear that the approach will always be to focus on preventing people being drawn into crime, particularly young people, with a further £1 million invested in targeted support.

Still making a difference with less –

  • Despite Islington facing cuts to core central government funding of 70 per cent between 2010 and 2020, Islington Labour has worked hard to protect vital frontline services on which local people rely.
  • The manifesto commits to keeping all libraries open, as well as all children’s centres, leisure centres, Council-run youth centres, as well as protecting weekly bin collections and care for older people.
  • The manifesto confirms that, following the Council’s Pension Fund reducing the carbon footprint of its shares by 45 per cent in recent years, we will work towards fully divesting the Council’s Pension Fund from companies that extract fossil fuels.
  • A clear commitment is made that the Council will seek to bring services back ‘in-house’ whenever it is viable and in the interests of local people. This commitment includes working with a future Labour Government, which provides both the powers and the funding necessary, to end the Partners for Improvement PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contract.
  • The Council will also develop new rules to ensure that no company in its supply chains practises modern slavery.
  • At a time of falling funding from government, an Islington Labour-run Council will establish the ‘Fairer Islington Fund’, which will be a way for those who can to donate to help the Council and its partners deliver early intervention and prevention services to support local people. We will also introduce a new voluntary Council Tax supplement, that people living in our highest value homes could consider paying, with the proceeds used to support the work of the Fairer Islington Fund.