Blog

Janet_Burgess.jpg

Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care, blogs about the importance of supporting carers in Islington.

In the UK, there are currently 6.5 million people who provide unpaid care for older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends.  In Islington that amounts to thousands. This means that our care service is heavily dependent on unpaid care that ordinary people, like you and me, provide every day to their family and friends.

Currently, the Government supports unpaid carers, through a Carer’s allowance, which is £62 per week and payable only to those unpaid carers on low incomes who work 35 hours per week. But imagine how tough it is, if your salary is low and you have full time caring responsibilities - the emotional and physical strain is immense.

I am proud that Islington has a package of offer that means more for unpaid carers. For example, we offer a Direct Payment scheme of up to £30 a week for leisure, social, training and or other activities to help improve the wellbeing and quality of life of carers themselves, which is vitally important in helping them to carry out their role.  There is also a Flexible Breaks Fund, which unpaid carers can bid in for to help them with much-needed respite. The aim is to ease the pressure of unpaid caring. 

We commission the Islington Carers Hub run by Age UK which provides a range of support to adult carers and the Young Carers service by Family Action, which provides support to young carers.

Every day Islington Labour is looking for new ideas and innovative ways to help those who care for others voluntarily. The Labour Party recently announced it will raise Carer’s allowance to £73 per week, funded by reversing the Government’s planned inheritance tax cut for the wealthiest, to recognise the contribution of Britain’s unpaid carers.

I welcome this policy announcement and wait to hear if other Parties are also giving carers the priority they need.

If you think you might be entitled to any form of carer’s support, please get in touch with the Islington Carer’s Hub at 020 7561 5517 or visit https://www.islington.gov.uk/social-care-health/carers for more information 

 

Pictured - Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care

Standing up for carers in Islington

Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care, blogs about the importance of supporting carers in Islington. In the UK, there are currently 6.5 million people who provide...

IMG_8173.JPG

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about why on 8th June, it's a choice between Labour and the Tories in Islington.

Once again, the Tories have decided that their own political opportunism should come before the needs of working people in Islington. Just as with the EU Referendum, the future of our country is being used as a bargaining chip by the Tories with Theresa May’s decision to call a snap General Election.

Unlike the Tories, Islington Labour is on the side of working people in Islington and we are making a difference on the issues that matter most to them. From delivering the biggest council house building programme in the borough for 30 years, to helping more than 3,000 local unemployed people into work since 2014 – Islington Labour, working as a united team, is making a difference.

But our efforts to make Islington a fairer place have been despite massive cuts imposed by this Tory Government, and by the last Tory-led government which was propped up by their favourite stooges – the Lib Dems.

Since 2010, the Tories have cut core government funding to Islington by more than half, and will have cut it by more than 70 per cent by 2020. At the same time, some Tory-run councils in leafier parts of the country have seen their funding increase, despite Islington being the 24th most deprived area in England. This is in addition to cuts to the police, NHS and fire services, as well as hugely damaging changes to vital social security for the least well-off.

But that’s the Tories for you – putting the best-off first and doing nothing to help places like Islington tackle the challenges we face.

We are lucky to have two local MPs in Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn who are champions for our community. They have been with us every the step of the way as we have fought to make our borough a fairer place, supporting our pioneering policy of free school meals for all primary and nursery pupils and our £100 council tax discount for older residents.

I am proud to stand alongside Emily and Jeremy as they fight the General Election on 8th June. With Labour’s commitment to build 500,000 council homes across the country, to introduce a real Living Wage of £10, to give the NHS the funding it needs and to tackle the crisis in social care – it is clear there is only one party that understands what matters most to working people in Islington.

I have written before about how damaging the Tories’ extreme hard Brexit would be for Islington. I fully support Labour’s demands for the rights of EU citizens living here to be protected, as well as ensuring access to the single market and protecting employment and environmental rights.

We need two Labour MPs for Islington to stand-up for local people. We need them to help us to challenge the Tories’ plans to force councils to sell-off council homes and to ban lifetime council tenancies. We need Emily and Jeremy to help us fight for fair funding for our local schools that will be hit by the Tories’ cuts to school budgets. We need a strong Labour team to fight the Tory cuts to the council.

Let’s not forget that the Tories finished second in both constituencies at the last General Election, so a vote for anyone other than Labour only helps the hard Brexit Tories.

On 8th June it’s a straight choice between Labour, on your side and making a difference, or the Tories and five more years of cuts and playing politics with our community. 

Islington Labour - On Your Side

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about why on 8th June, it's a choice between Labour and the Tories in Islington. Once again, the Tories have decided that...

Asima_Shaikh.jpg

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, blogs about how Islington Labour is supporting SMEs.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are the lifeblood of Islington’s diverse highstreets. Our borough is home to over 33,000 SMEs and the hard-working people behind them make a vital contribution to our local economy and communities. It is only right that this Labour-run Council protects and boosts them.

Apart from our highstreets, Islington’s economy is dominated by the SME sector. Last year the Council commissioned an Employment Land study which highlighted the dominance of SMEs in the local economy. So speaking up and supporting this sector is key to the economic success of Islington.

Last year, we successfully secured Greater London Authority (GLA) funding to support small businesses in our town centres to improve shop fronts and provide them with visual merchandising workshops. We are continuing to look at ways we can strengthen and develop our high streets and town centres.

The Tories claim to be the Party of small businesses but many business owners in Islington feel otherwise. Islington businesses will see their rateable values increase by 45 per cent – the third highest rise in England – under the Tories’ business rates rise. This puts more pressure on SMEs to relocate or close, which would damage the diverse and independent nature of our business communities.

It is essential that we protect our local businesses, which is why last month I handed in a 13,600-strong petition to the Treasury, alongside Islington business representatives. The Government has since announced some small concessions but it is not enough. We will continue to push the Government to bring forward genuine support for local businesses and offer support to those affected by the business rates hike.

This week, Jeremy Corbyn MP set out plans for how a Labour Government would support SMEs. One of these measures was tackling late payment from large companies, which is a problem many Islington SMEs will be all too familiar with.

Over 15,000 SMEs in the borough are owed upwards of £144 million in late payments. This can affect their ability to pay staff on time and pay the bills. Nearly 3,000 SME directors in Islington have sacrificed their own salary because of late payments.

We are determined to support Islington’s SMEs so that our high streets remain diverse and successful. From advice on starting your own business to support on business rates, you can find out more about the Council’s services for businesses here.  

 

Pictured - Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development

Standing up for Islington’s SMEs

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, blogs about how Islington Labour is supporting SMEs. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are the lifeblood of Islington’s diverse highstreets. Our borough...

bigpic.jpg

Cllr Troy Gallagher, Islington Labour Councillor for Bunhill Ward, blogs about his recent visit to an Irish civil rights event in New York on St Patrick’s Day

There are more Irish living outside Ireland than in it. St Patrick’s Day is therefore an opportunity for us to remind the world that Ireland is an immigrant nation. This message has never been more relevant than today, with the suspicion of the outsider at the core of both Trump’s victory and, to an extent, Brexit. 

This St Patrick’s Day, I had the pleasure of being invited in my capacity as Chair of the London Irish Councillors Network to the ‘Irish Stand’ civil rights event in New York. This was an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our Irish American family to protest against President Trump’s immigration ban, which affects all emigrant communities.

Speaking at the event were people from all nationalities and religious backgrounds who have contributed to American communities and helped to shape modern society. Regrettably, this seems to be rapidly changing, with freedoms being eradicated. I met inspiring representatives from the Democratic Party including Max Kennedy, son of Robert F Kennedy and Irish politicians, along with Irish playwrights and poets.

The event was also a call to arms, urging everyone to speak out against injustice. We cannot stand idly by and allow immigrant communities to be persecuted. If we allow it to happen to others, it will continue and eventually affect those closest to us.

Trump’s discriminatory immigration ban is wrong in every way. The Irish community know better than most what it is like to be persecuted and forced to emigrate. That is why it is right that Irish communities around the world stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow brothers and sisters, regardless of race, creed, gender or sexuality, to rally against Trump’s terrible anti-immigration policies and say “not in our name”.

I am proud of the role our Irish representatives have played in speaking up for immigrant communities and condemning the Trump regime. Just like my own party, they are standing together for justice, equality and dignity.

I am also proud to call Islington, a diverse and tolerant borough which is home to people from backgrounds across the world, including Irish, my home.

You can watch the inspiring event, which includes speeches and poetry, here:

 

Pictured - Cllr Troy Gallagher, Islington Labour Councillor for Bunhill Ward

 

Standing up for immigrants around the world on St Patrick’s Day

Cllr Troy Gallagher, Islington Labour Councillor for Bunhill Ward, blogs about his recent visit to an Irish civil rights event in New York on St Patrick’s Day There are more...

Diarmaid_Ward.jpg

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, writes about how Islington Council is leading the fight against rogue letting agents in London.

New research into the enforcement action against rogue letting agents by councils across London shows some very interesting results. The research looks into enforcement measures carried out since the new rules on displaying letting fees and membership of deposit and redress schemes, were introduced in May 2015. 

Islington Council issued total fines of £42,000 to letting agents that had breached the new requirements, amounting to two thirds of the total fines issued by councils in London. 

We are very proud of this record and want our residents to know that our work in this area continues, especially in relation to “ghost-listing.”

Recently the council prosecuted an estate agent for falsely listing a flat as sold. They were issued with a £1250 fine plus £925 in costs. Another estate agent based in the borough, was prosecuted following a report from a concerned resident that their home was listed for rent on the Zoopla property website, even though the property was not actually available. They received a £4000 fine and £2500 in costs.

We are setting an example in Islington by taking a zero tolerance approach. London is facing a housing crisis. More and more people are struggling to find decent places to live at an affordable rent, and letting agents should be helping us to tackle the problem, not making it worse.

Tackling these issues is a top priority for our borough and I am proud to say that Islington is leading the fight against rogue letting agents. 

We will be campaigning for the Mayor of London to introduce his promised databases of rogue landlords and letting agents as soon as possible. These measures can't come quickly enough. 

 

Pictured - Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development

Islington Council is leading the fight against rogue letting agents in the capital

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, writes about how Islington Council is leading the fight against rogue letting agents in London. New research into the enforcement action...

David_Poyser.jpg

Cllr Dave Poyser, Labour Member for Hillrise Ward, blogs about Brexit and EU citizens in Islington.

As the triggering of Article 50 looms, signalling the beginning of the UK’s Brexit negotiations, the future of Islington and the country is a question I frequently hear from residents.

Islington did not vote for Brexit and many people, myself included, remain concerned and angry. A record number of residents turned out to vote in the referendum, 75 per cent of whom voted to remain, and many were heartbroken that the national vote went the other way.

I accept that the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU but what exactly did they vote for? This is a fundamental question that needs a proper answer, not ‘Brexit means Brexit’, so we can guarantee jobs and growth in Islington.

It is shameful that the Conservatives voted against Amendments, hard-won by Labour Peers, that would have guaranteed the legal status of EU nationals who are already living and working in the UK, and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal in Parliament.

I am proud to live in a multi-cultural borough that is home to people from across the world, including over 17,000 EU nationals. These people are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. We cannot ease off the pressure on the Prime Minister to do the decent human thing by guaranteeing their future early on in the Brexit negotiations.  

Brexit must work for everyone, not just the wealthy few, and only Labour can be trusted to deliver a deal that prioritises the economy, workers’ rights, human rights and environmental protection.

We must never forget that the referendum was only held to help Tory divisions, not in the interests of working people, or that it was the Liberal Democrats that put the Tories in a position of power to do so in the first place.

Islington Labour is committed to creating a fairer borough for all. The Tories’ Brexit will make this harder but we will continue to fight for and prioritise the issues that matter most to people in Islington.

 

Pictured - Cllr Dave Poyser, Labour Member for Hillrise Ward

On the Side of EU Citizens in Islington

Cllr Dave Poyser, Labour Member for Hillrise Ward, blogs about Brexit and EU citizens in Islington. As the triggering of Article 50 looms, signalling the beginning of the UK’s Brexit...

C6_Va87WYAgN1ES.jpg

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the recent EU rally at Islington Town Hall

This week (21 March), the Prime Minister announced that she plans to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March, officially beginning the UK’s withdrawal from EU membership.

Last week, I spoke at a packed ‘Islington IN Europe’ rally at Islington Town Hall, where I promised to defend the rights of the 17,000 EU citizens living in Islington to stay in Britain. I spoke alongside some high profile speakers about our future relationship with the EU: campaigner Gina Miller, columnist Professor Anthony Grayling and dramatist Bonnie Greer.

You can watch a video of the rally and my speech here:

I am proud to call Islington home. It is a fiercely multi-cultural borough, where people from across the world live, work and contribute to our community. These people are our friends, neighbours and family. They are also business owners and entrepreneurs, and many of them work for our vital public services.

Islington Labour campaigned hard to remain in the EU and a record number of people turned out to vote in Islington – 75% of whom voted to ‘remain’. Many of us were heartbroken that the UK as a whole voted the other way.

The priority for us now is to ensure that Islington remains a tolerant, diverse and welcoming borough, as it always has been. We will not see politics played with the lives of our neighbours.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, speaking at the 'Islington IN Europe' rally (with thanks to 'Islington IN Europe' for producing the image and video)

Standing up for EU citizens in Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the recent EU rally at Islington Town Hall This week (21 March), the Prime Minister announced that she plans to trigger...

Picture1.png

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how the Council is supporting and inspiring women in Islington

This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), I attended a number of events across Islington celebrating the contribution that women make to the borough, and heard from many inspirational female speakers.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The theme for 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’, with individuals and organisations declaring bold actions to forge a more gender inclusive world. Through collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash unlimited potential.

We are committed to making Islington a fairer place for everyone, which also means making it a fairer and safer place for women. Our recently-launched Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy prioritises prevention and early intervention, addressing perpetrator behaviour and responding to complex pressure on individuals. VAWG is everyone’s business. We are sending a clear message that it will not be tolerated in any form.

I am proud of Labour-run Islington Council’s record in supporting women in the borough. Since 2014, we have helped 981 parents – mostly women – into work. Employment is one of the key routes out of poverty, which is why we are prioritising supporting residents into sustainable employment.

This year, the Islington Women’s Staff Forum asked the local community to nominate women who live and work in the borough who have made a bold contribution to gender equality. Six women were chosen from the nominations and their stories have been made into a digital artwork, which was unveiled on Thursday 9th March. These women are:

  • Suzanne Lee, Artistic Director of community arts organisation All Change
  • Liz Hogarth, criminal justice campaigner
  • Jamad Abdi, Bilingual Family Support Worker
  • Anita Grant, Director of Islington Play Association
  • Jennifer Savage, Practice Manager of the Pause project
  • Polly Mann, who has run the St Luke’s History Group as a volunteer for over a decade

From actresses to activists to mothers to mechanical engineers, Islington is home to inspiring women from all walks of life. Of course, we should be celebrating and supporting them throughout the year – not only on International Women’s Day.

 

Pictured - Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development

Celebrating Islington’s inspirational women

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how the Council is supporting and inspiring women in Islington This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), I...

Richard_Watts.jpg

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington.

Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’ plans for the country’s finances. Unfortunately, this Tory Budget has once again failed to deliver for working people in Islington.

For all the press coverage and attention the Budget receives today, it offers little of real value to Islington residents. There will be no help to build more genuinely affordable homes, no new funding for local council services that help people into work and no real help for local businesses that will be hit by the massive increase in Government taxes.

The Chancellor offered warm words to small and medium businesses in Islington who are set to see their business rates rise significantly. However, despite rigorous campaigning from Islington Labour and business representatives, there will not be a freeze on business rates rises. Also, the relief being offered to small businesses is nowhere near enough to support all those who need it.

Despite inflicting 70 per cent cuts on Islington Council, the Tory Government has miraculously found hundreds of millions of pounds to bring back divisive grammar schools. There is overwhelming evidence that grammar schools undermine social mobility and do not increase overall educational performance, so this move is entirely dogmatic. 

Although it is welcome that the Budget promises more money for social care, this is still only a sticking plaster that lasts for a mere three years. Once again the Tories have proven they are anything but the party of the NHS.

By contrast, Islington Labour will continue to build new genuinely affordable homes, with the largest council home building programme for 30 years. We will also continue to help more local people into work, building on the more than 3,000 people we have helped find secure jobs since 2014.

The Tory Budget will also disproportionately hit young people, who will be saddled with the ideological decisions of this Government for years to come. That is why we will support young people by protecting youth services for all and invest in targeted support for those at risk of turning to crime.

The Chancellor did not address the elephant in the room while he was delivering his Budget – Brexit. Despite repeated calls, the Tories have failed to confirm that vital EU funding to councils will be protected post-Brexit. It was also quietly announced today that billions more pounds have been put aside to cope with the effect of Brexit, proving that the Tories do not have a clear plan.

Today’s Tory Budget shows that only Islington Labour is on the side of working people. 

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

This Tory Budget lets down Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington. Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’...

C5SHtdgWIAMo7kn.jpg

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the Fair Futures Commission.

This week (22 February) Islington Council launched its pioneering Fair Futures Commission, which will explore how we can create a truly child and youth friendly community.

Islington Labour is committed to creating a fairer borough for all. That is why in 2017 there will be a focus on all children and young people to help them better reach their full potential.

Islington is a fantastic place to grow up, with brilliant parks, museums, sports facilities and cultural venues right on the doorstep. However, for far too many children and young people, growing up in Islington is challenging. We want to take a radical look at how the Council and its partners can help to change that.

Since taking control of the Council in 2010, Islington Labour has been working hard to make the borough a place where all children, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to succeed.

We have had significant achievements in and are continuing to work hard on key areas, such as building more genuinely affordable homes, helping local people into work, and targeting support to young people who need it most. Local schools continue to improve, with the progress pupils make in Islington’s secondary schools ranking in the top 20 in the country.

Despite significant cuts to council funding by the central Government, we have kept all our children’s centres open and invested millions in youth services. Our pioneering universal free school meals programme means no child in Islington has to start their day hungry.

But there is still more that can be done to ensure all children and young people get the best start in life.

There are challenges but also opportunities to drive innovation and positive change. The only way to achieve this is to listen to everyone, inspire others and challenge ourselves.

I am delighted that Jermain Jackman, a former Islington Arts and Media School student and winner of TV talent show The Voice in 2014, will be chairing the Fair Futures Commission. High profile academics, psychologists, Islington parents and young people, will also serve on the Board. This meeting of talented minds will mean the Commission can provide independent advice and support by bringing everyone together who wants to make Islington a fairer place for all.

We are keen to hear from everyone who is passionate about creating a fairer Islington for children and young people. If you are interested in getting involved in the Commission please visit the website.

I look forward to sharing the Commission’s story with you over the coming year.

Pictured - Jermain Jackman, Chair of the Fair Futures Commission, and Duncombe Primary school pupils at the launch of the Fair Futures Commission

Helping Islington’s children and young people get the best start in life

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the Fair Futures Commission. This week (22 February) Islington Council launched its pioneering Fair Futures Commission, which...

Welcome to Islington Labour