Who is going to heal London?
I’m Danny Dorling – I am the one member of the London Fairness Commission not to live or work in London. My vision is that we should concentrate on what appears to be most unfair and tackle that unfairness.
People will go without food, and will then go without heat for their homes, before they fail to pay the rent. In London the number of families issued with a court summons for not paying their rent doubled from 7,283 in 2013-14 to 15,509 in 2014-15. While those numbers doubled there was only a 50% increase in the use of bailiffs to evict London families over that same period. More people were going quietly. When you are evicted, you also face £125 court costs and £400 in bailiff’s fees.
Over half a million children in London are now living below the official poverty line. Half of them are housed in the private rented sector, and that number has doubled in a matter of just a few years. Often when the families of those children are evicted for not paying their rent, or move on because they can no longer pay their rent as it rises, those children have to move to another school, lose their friends and try to gain new ones. Children in poverty and in private rented accommodation move, on average, more than once every three years.
I don’t live in London. I live in Oxford, the only city in England that is similarly expensive to living in London. When I vote, I ask myself who is actually most bothered by what I have just described. Who really cares? And who just pretends to care while believing that other issues are more important. Other issues are not more important.
Children only have one childhood. They only have one chance at developing stable friendships. All the other large cities in affluent countries that treat their children better than we do rely on a more diverse economy than we do. It is not the case that we can only afford what we have because of the jobs rich people do in London. It is the case that if London were more normal it would not tolerate such extremes of poverty and wealth. But just like Oxford – which is also a terribly divided city – London is riven by social division.