BORISCONI THE BARBARIAN: How London poverty under Johnson demonstrates the lie that is neoliberalism

boristrapMayor tells critic to shut his poverty trap

Mayor Boris has been hung by his own facade of nice bankers and neoliberal wealth-creation

Boris Johnson became London Mayor on 4th May 2008. But during the election (on April 15th that year) he revealed that the City’s best-known banker would help him set up and run the multimillion pound Mayor’s Fund, to give money to some of the poorest Londoners. Mr Johnson told an audience, “The Mayor’s Fund for London will be a streamlined vehicle for getting money from the wealth creating sector to communities across London that are facing hardship and deprivation, and are the victims of crime. Many people in the City of London are very interested in this idea and one man who’s going to help is Bob Diamond at Barclays Bank, but there are many others who are going to come forward in the next few weeks who are going to show their support.”

Mr Diamond is now – like most of Boris’s friends – in disgrace. The Mayor’s Fund is still in being, but out of a London child population of slightly over two million, the number of kids benefitting from the scheme is 2,000. That’s 0.1%…and 25% of the Capital’s kids live in poverty. So the transfer of money from “the wealth creating sector” wasn’t exactly a raging torrent. More of a leaking tap that kept getting fixed. The whole thing was basically a PR exercise: under Mayor Johnson, London has become a haven for the rich banking and property development sectors he supports in Haringey and the City.

These are the facts in London:

* Over the ten years to 2011–12, the number people in in-work poverty increased by 440,000. As these households have children in most cases, child poverty in working households has increased, and is increasing. But child poverty in unemployed households is falling.
* On Boris’s watch in the three years to 2011–12, 2.1 million people in London were in poverty. This 28% poverty rate is seven percentage points higher than the rest of England.
* Looking at the work available to the impoverished 1 in 3.7, In 2012 600,000 jobs in London were paid below the London Living Wage (£8.55 per hour), and over 40% of part-time jobs were low paid.
* So it’s hardly surprising that 57% of London adults and children in poverty are in working families.
* 26% of London households received housing benefit in 2012, a higher proportion and one that has grown faster than the average for England. Average housing benefit values are also much higher in London at £134 per week compared to £92 per week for England.
Let me try to sum up this picture. To help him get elected, Mayor Boris Johnson came up with some high-sounding guff from a senior banker who turned out in the end to be a lowlife….imagine that. Their scheme has missed 999 out of every 1000 impoverished London kids. The broader statistics prove, however, that the economic capitalist form to which both Diamond and Johnson are wedded has failed those poor families who want to work….and left the taxpayers with a bigger sum to cough up for the unemployed impoverished than they had before.
Now where have I read all this before? That is to say, lower wages = higher profits and bonuses = more families in poverty = the ordinary taxpayer picking up the tab that multinationals and banks do everything in their power to avoid. Ah yes, it’s our old friend Neoliberal Bollocks again.
Those who think Boris a fine chap who is straight and “one of us” need to get their cognitive abilities seen to. He is without doubt a magnet for big money from powerful people. But improved conditions for London’s working people are not apparent…and never will be so long as he’s in charge. Just as with Barclays bikes, the Thames airport, Hackgate, Olympic Games economic uplift, and East London colleges, Borisconi’s promises amount to nothing beyond lining the pockets of his mates.
Later at The Slog: why we are not tackling poverty per se