Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let's Make the Banks Work for the Dispossessed; Reform of the Financial System Is Key to Tackling London Poverty, Says One Contender for the Labour Leadership

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let's Make the Banks Work for the Dispossessed; Reform of the Financial System Is Key to Tackling London Poverty, Says One Contender for the Labour Leadership

Article excerpt

Byline: Ed Miliband

AS SOMEONE born in London, I care deeply about our capital city. As a member of the last Labour government I am proud of the many things we did that helped London -- from bringing back London-wide democracy to free entry to our museums and galleries to winning the Olympic Games. But you only have to walk the mile and a half from the run-down neighbourhoods of Stepney to the wealth of the City to see how much remains to be done to build a fairer London at the heart of a fairer Britain.

That is why I am wholeheartedly backing the Standard's campaign to tackle poverty in London.

All the evidence shows that a wide gap between rich and poor is not just bad for the poor. More unequal societies have worse health, more violence and less social mobility. Narrowing the gap will be good for all of us. The question is, how do we do it? First, we need action to support wages and improve conditions at the bottom of the wage scale. My leadership campaign has been inspired by the Living Wage campaign that grassroots charity London Citizens has been running for 10 years to ensure that those who work are paid properly.

They recognise that a decent day's wage for a decent day's work is the best anti-poverty measure of all. It ensures that, at a time when so many are finding themselves working harder for longer and for less, people are properly rewarded for the jobs we all rely on but often do not see -- whether cleaning offices, acting as hospital porters or preparing food. I want all London employers to pay a living wage and I am campaigning to help make that happen.

We also need to recognise that security in the labour market can be the ally of growth and prosperity. Unlimited flexibility doesn't just drive down people's wages and security but also can harm competitiveness. The price of maximum flexibility can mean the incentive for people to acquire skills is too weak, while employers can comfortably compete on the basis simply of costs rather than quality. So we need labour market regulation that supports the high-skill, high-wage, high-productivity economy.

Second, I want an active government that will shape a new economy based on high-skill, high-paying jobs; and promote innovation and growth. This is important for everyone in our society -- we cannot accept an economy that lacks these opportunities.

This economic future demands a greater commitment to an active industrial policy. Of course, some areas of public spending must be cut, but to do this by withdrawing support for the jobs and industries of the future, as the coalition Government is doing, is shortsighted economic vandalism. And third, a more equal society demands a changed banking sector. London relies on a flourishing financial services industry, but it is also highly exposed if that sector implodes again. …

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