Alongside London Citizens Advice charities, Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth (CAML) has written to candidates standing in local elections on 5th May asking prospective Councillors to consider how (if elected) they may be able to work with and support the work of advice charities/organisations in their boroughs.
The upcoming local elections provide an opportunity for London boroughs to reflect on the challenges that all boroughs face, and the needs of London residents. As London recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, Londoners are increasingly impacted by cost of living challenges. As well as creating new and severe issues that drastically affected the quality of Londoners’ lives, the pandemic exacerbated the problems London’s communities have faced for years, namely:
· widening social inequalities both between and within London boroughs
· more people live in poverty in London (28%) compared to the rest of the UK (22%)
· the growing impact of social isolation and digital exclusion
According to the London Poverty Profile, the costs of living in London are 15%-58% higher than the rest of the UK, housing issues are a major driver of poverty in London, and the in-work poverty rate across London is rising. These trends are likely to accelerate as the cost of living crisis continues to impact Londoners. Citizens Advice across London boroughs have seen a 16% increase in client numbers in the first three months of 2022 compared to final three months of 2021. Social welfare advice has a vital role to play in economic and social fairness in London.
We are therefore calling on candidates this election to ensure that their boroughs:
1. Maximise their engagement with, and support for, charities and community groups
2. Work to strengthen the capacity of community advice services to address social and financial exclusion in their borough
3. Share best practice so that approaches to commissioning and working with London’s advice agencies are more consistent across