The Fighting Is Over - Now the Real Battle Begins

07/05/2016 14:17 | Updated 07 May 2016

As the dust settles on what has been a fractious Mayoral campaign, Londoners will hope that the focus now turns to policy commitments and a real debate about the future of our city, rather than personalities and its past.

And in terms of policy, nothing is more vital to the ongoing prosperity of the city, and particularly to supporting people experiencing poverty, than a concerted effort to tackle economic inequality. Mayor Khan's guiding principle should be how he can ensure the huge
successes of London work for everyone.

Of course all Londoners, and especially those on low incomes, want the Mayor to focus on affordable housing and transport. But underpinning this should be a long-term strategy to reduce the inequality which is dividing the city, trapping people in poverty and carving out an economic future where only a minority can flourish.

It's very encouraging that Sadiq Khan has committed to establishing an 'economic fairness' team in City Hall, which will promote the living wage and access to good quality apprenticeships, while also encouraging positive business behaviour.

But economic fairness also means ensuring that the huge wealth of London is used in an equitable way to reduce poverty and support long-term, sustainable opportunities for everyone living and working here. That includes the 2.3 million people who are living in poverty, more than half of whom are in work.

Oxfam has been calling for an Inequality Commissioner throughout this election, and we hope that the 'economic fairness' team can cover this remit, with scrutiny from members of the London Assembly. To do so would mean considering the economy of the city explicitly through the lens of inequality, and thinking about the levers that would close the gap between the rich and the poor. We need big, bold ideas, from looking at wealth and property taxes to the role of tax havens and a focus on employment in London.

The Mayor needs to go beyond only supporting the London Living Wage and start thinking about employment as a whole - to develop a decent work standard that supports sustainable employment with good conditions and progression routes for those who are on lower incomes.

It also means recognising that extreme inequality limits the opportunities of those at the bottom, like the 100,000 people relying on emergency food bank parcels in the last year. High levels of inequality make the city as a whole more expensive, pushing more people into poverty and holding back the productivity that makes the city successful.

It is astonishing that, in 2016, in the richest city in the UK, there remains a 25-year difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest wards.

Mayor Khan can be a leader on ending this huge divide, and in doing so be the Mayor whose legacy goes far beyond personality, right to the heart of a positive, long-term future for all Londoners.