2020 vision: how we'll stand up for Hackney in the coming year
While our TV screens have been full of election drama over the last few weeks, many people in Hackney have been more focussed on getting ready for the festive season.
It’s been a welcome distraction to take part in Christmas events happening all over the borough, many of which are featured in the latest edition of Hackney Today, with more to come with the start of Hanukkah next week.
But while the next fortnight will be a time of celebration, many families in Hackney will also be fearful of what the result of last week’s General Election means for them – not least the 15% of our residents from other EU countries.
No matter what happens on 31 January, we will continue to champion the huge contribution EU citizens make to our borough and support them as much as we can. You can visit our Brexit pages for advice and information.
A new Government also means a new legislative agenda, which my team, as they have over the past three years, will be scrutinising carefully to stand up for Hackney. That’s so important, because the effects of the last ten years of austerity on those most in need in our borough are even clearer at this time of year.
No family should have to rely on food parcels at Christmas, but that is a reality for thousands in Hackney – including the 1 in 17 children in Hackney that are homeless and will spend the holidays in hostels or bed and breakfasts. With Hackney Foodbank reporting a 54% rise in demand over the last year, I will continue to campaign for the huge changes in Government policy necessary to reverse rising poverty across our borough.
In just the last few years, we’ve witnessed the five-week wait for payment for those moving onto Universal Credit, the Windrush scandal and rising homelessness due to a lack of investment in housebuilding – all examples of why ministers must be held to account by those on the frontline.
But we’ll also take action ourselves. We know that while many people are feeling the pinch, they’re hearing claims of great economic growth and seeing changes on their high street. Many residents and businesses have told us that they aren’t feeling the benefit of these changes – that new jobs aren’t for them or that they feel like they’re being forced out.
We’ve heard this loud and clear, which is why it’s our mission to make Hackney fairer. Last month, the Council’s Cabinet approved a new Inclusive Economy Strategy, which sets out radical changes in our approach to growth and the public value it brings.
We’ll continue to lead by example and do more to insource services rather than farming them out to the private sector; we’ll deliver affordable workspace for small businesses being priced out; we’ll do more to ensure public buildings are used for public good, and we’ll champion high-quality work and apprenticeship opportunities for local people.
You’ll see more of this in 2020, but Hackney Light and Power, our new energy services company, is one of the first examples of how an entrepreneurial public sector can return to its historic role as a force for good in the local economy.
In the meantime, I hope you and your family enjoy a peaceful and restive festive break and New Year.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
This column originally appeared in the 16 December edition of Hackney Today.