Yesterday at the Mayor’s Question Time, Green London Assembly Member and Candidate for Mayor Sian Berry held the Mayor to account on key issues facing London. Most notably, after receiving Sian’s questions the Mayor has finally called for a rent freeze, acknowledged that a 4-day-week is an interesting idea and accepted that Universal Basic Income is something worth exploring.
Sian Berry Comments:
“Londoners, and young Londoners especially, are so vulnerable to the financial storms of the coronavirus crisis. We are a city of renters, of people in precarious work, and we need more secure and resilient support from Government.”
“I’m glad the Mayor is open to exploring a universal basic income and recognises that the current system of support for people who need a safety net is more holes than net.
“He is also open to discussing a four-day working week where, since 2019, I have been proposing that the GLA leads the way. I hope the Mayor keeps listening to my ideas for a more secure, resilient and sustainable future, because we know that business as usual will not be enough to help Londoners weather this storm.”
Sian Berry questioned the Mayor on how he will be supporting the rights of private renters at risk of eviction during coronavirus, particularly in the light of the impending lift of the evictions ban and furlough scheme. Sian has spent years pushing for renters’ rights, calling for rent control in the Capital since 2016. Keeping pressure on the Mayor has paid off, as the Mayor calls for two-year rent freeze and acknowledged the need for renters’ support and spoke of grants to help reduce debts.
Sian highlighted to the Mayor the successes of flexible and remote working during this crisis and posed the question of whether or not he would promote a four-day working week. The Mayor said this was an ‘interesting idea especially in the context of economic recovery from the pandemic… Employers need to support a wide range of flexibilities.’
Sian also reminded the Mayor of the potential of a Universal Basic Income to help people cover the basic costs of living when they lose work. A universal basic income would take some pressure off people struggling with making ends meet as furlough ends and further waves of unemployment are expected. The Mayor cautiously agreed with Sian Berry AM today that a universal basic income was ‘worth exploring’ to help Londoners hit hard by coronavirus, and for people who traditionally work in unpaid roles – such as women raising families.