Agenda item

Lambeth Labour Market Review

(All Wards)

 

Contact for Information: John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion, 020 7926 6452, jbennett7@lambeth.gov.uk

 

Minutes:

Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of the Council, introduced the item by highlighting that:

·         He paid tribute to the Economic Inclusion team for their hard work that included joint work with various partnerships.

·         Historically, the Council were successful in securing jobs by using procurement, the planning process, working with partners and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).  To ensure the trend continued the Council worked with the Assistant Director Integrated Commissioning (Mental Health), Lambeth CCG to discuss mental health employment and ensure that employers were able to provide support for vulnerable people with different characteristics.

·         Since last year, various job events by the Council were held and tracking work with employers undertaken to ascertain why employers preferred to work with specific groups.  Work was also being undertaken to understand employers’ social value and social impact to understand how this could be measured by the Council.  

 

John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion, highlighted the following issues:-

·         Changes pertaining to the labour market continued to increase over the past five years, as a result of the growing population, the development of new homes and families moving into the borough.  Also, over the past five years an increase in migrants in Lambeth could be seen.

·         The proportion of young people aged 20-34 were much higher in Lambeth compared to other London boroughs.  Consequently, the proportion of school age children, older working people and the elderly was lower. 

·         Lambeth residents had high levels of qualifications which had increased over the last 5-10 years.  The qualification levels reflected the types of jobs people obtained and the earnings they hoped to achieve. 

·         A large proportion of people in Lambeth existed that had not gained employment for a considerable number of years.  They tended to claim health related benefits rather than claiming job seekers allowance.  Also people aged 50-60, were more likely to remain unemployed in Lambeth compared to other boroughs and claimed benefits.  

·         Employment rates for people from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background was 10-15% lower than the overall employment rate.  Similarly the disability employment rate was lower compared to people without a disability.

·         Although only one in four residents that lived in Lambeth worked in the borough, significant numbers of people came into Lambeth to work.

·         The health, construction, hospitality and retail sectors were considered to be significant employers for Lambeth.  However, some of those sectors were poorly paid.  The hospitality sector had a high proportion of jobs that paid less than the London Living Wage (LLW).  The lower qualified and BAME people were more likely to be in low paid roles.

·         Although high employment rates and high levels of qualifications existed in Lambeth, some groups of residents were not benefitting from the economic growth, due to being unemployed or in low paid employment.  

 

The Chair then invited speakers who wished to contribute on the Lambeth Labour Market Review to address the Committee. 

 

Lee Elliott, Employment, Information and Training Coordinator, Mosaic Clubhouse, said that:

·         Mosaic had secured jobs for 63 people generated by mental health organisations from the private or public sector.  However, difficulty existed to access big organisations in the borough such as from the Southbank Employers Group, despite them generating vast numbers of jobs, such as in retail.

·         Mental Health Awareness Training programmes had been developed and made accessible to employers to reduce their anxiety of employing people with mental health problems.

·         Although Mosaic worked with organisations that were open to diversity, such as Public Health England that led to permanent contracts being offered, Mosaic still felt there was room for improvement in terms of engagement with employers.

 

Colin Crooks, CEO, Tree Shepherd (social enterprise working for disadvantaged people and communities), said that:

·         Lambeth residents, especially those with significant caring responsibilities, had difficulty travelling to work in Tulse Hill, as a result of inadequate transport links.  Therefore, he had been advocating for additional local jobs to combat travelling costs for families.

·         Jobs for the self-employed had not been adequately considered in the review, despite self-employment contributing to 15% of the workforce.  He then made reference to a successful project held last year in Croydon, for disabled people which resulted in 45% of the cohort starting their own business.  Also, older residents were encouraged to start their own business to reduce travel time, earn a living and remain closer to their families.

 

Ronnie Wilson, CEO, First Step Trust (FST) (charity providing opportunities for people excluded from work due to mental health conditions, learning disabilities, drug/alcohol and other disadvantages), said that:

·         An Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) should be undertaken by the Council to identify people with disabilities in reading and writing or of vulnerable need.

·         Consideration by the Council was required to ascertain why some employers refused to pay the LLW to their employees.  In Greenwich contracts were not awarded to businesses if they objected to paying the LLW. 

·         Social value contracts (to consider how the services organisations commissioned would improve the wellbeing of communities) with employers should be discussed before any contracts were awarded by the Council.  Harriett Tawari a client of the First Step Trust, then outlined how she managed to secure a job at FST, despite suffering from mental health issues and the positive effect this had had on her own life.

 

John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion, responded to the points raised as follows:

·         Data regarding self-employment had been obtained by the Council and this could be shared with Committee.

·         Employers could be influenced through the planning process to provide employment.  An example, for developers with major developments, the Council could impose that when employment opportunities existed, the Council must be notified of vacancies in order to secure planning permission.  The new ‘Lambeth Employment and Skills Supplementary Planning Document’ approved by Cabinet on 5 February 2018, enabled the Council to impose financial penalties on developers who failed to abide with their S106 agreements.  Jobs secured through planning agreements were mostly construction work. Greater difficulty was encountered when the developer was uncertain which businesses would be moving into the development.

 

The Chair invited contributions from the representatives of Job Centre Plus (JCP).

 

Bal Virdee, MBE, Lambeth & Southwark Partnership Manager, said that:

·         Regarding procurement, over the last 12 months good programmes were in place to assist ex-offenders and longer term unemployed women back into employment.  However, when those programmes ended, it could not be guaranteed those same providers would be engaged.  Therefore, she liaised with the Council on a regular basis to discuss issues to ensure those same providers could be used.

·         Good outreach work that provided assistance for vulnerable residents existed but there was a need to share information with organisations.

·         Further work with BAME groups within the borough to provide employment would be undertaken and she welcome further support from the Council.

·         JCP used a Dynamic Purchasing System (a procedure available for contracts for works, services and goods commonly available on the market). Though this did not enable them to choose a particular supplier, it could be used to help find provision for those furthest from the job market.

·         More provision in the borough was needed to support people with disabilities but some good support existed to support the ethnicity gap.

 

Kirsty McGregor, Employment Engagement Manger, said that:

·         Health Confidence Fairs were arranged that supported people who were not ready for the job market.

·         Tailored job fairs to assist women and parents to obtain local jobs were held. 

·         The Mentoring Circle, aimed at finding employment for 18-24 year old young people from BAME backgrounds would be re-launched in June 2019.  It was noted that the campaign held in 2014 had resulted in 18 young people securing permanent employment within six months.

 

The Chair then opened up the discussion to Members of the Committee and in response to the questions raised the following points from John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion were made:

·         A variety of programmes existed for residents.  The Work and Health Programme provided assistance for people with health conditions.  It also provided assistance to ensure people understood their health conditions, the impact on their jobs and any changes employers might need to make in the workplace.  The programme had only been in operation since March last year and attendance figures continued to improve.  Also other employment support programmes and 50+ specific programmes existed to support residents.  Bal Virdee MBE, Lambeth & Southwark Partnership Manager, Job Centre Plus, also made reference to a smaller health support programme that provided support for disadvantaged groups, especially the disabled BAME and over-50s.  She endeavoured to share further information with the Committee and also welcomed any further suggestions.

·         The Council aimed to trial a business rate discount scheme (similar to Lewisham, Greenwich and Brent) to ensure employers paid the LLW and became accredited.  It was hoped that employers, especially in the hospitality industry, would be encouraged to pay the LLW.  No provision currently existed to force employers to pay the LLW through the planning process.

·         Officers could look into whether businesses could be offered discounted advertising rates for adverts placed in Lambeth Talk and/or billboards within Lambeth if they agreed to pay the LLW to their employees.  

·         The Council had a quarterly monitoring system in place for developments where an s106 agreement existed and involved employment and skills plans.  The developer/employer must ensure that they adhered to their terms in order to prevent formal processes being undertaken.

·         Employment opportunities from planning or licensing applications were not considered by the Council but jobs through major developments would be considered.  However, on an informal basis, if a new shop or restaurant opened in the borough, the Job Centre could be informed by the Council to see if local residents could be employed.

·         Reference was made to page 73 of the agenda pack which outlined the employment rates predicted across London within the next 20 years.  In Lambeth, there was a need to focus on the creative and digital industries to secure employment in the future.

 

Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of the Council, confirmed that:

·         As a Council with the largest provider of affordable workspace, a stipulation was made that businesses was required to pay the LLW to the Council, as a landowner.  However, this could not be secured for private businesses in private ownership.

·         A wider campaign had been undertaken to encourage businesses to be accredited as LLW employers. 

·         The S106 option also provided an opportunity for developers to remove money to invest in programmes to assist people finding employment.

·         It was vital that apprentice jobs and work experience was secured with various organisations, such as the health sector to ensure that people obtained the right skills.  Such sectors could be fed by local colleges.

·         In response to the issue raised regarding good jobs, there was need to ensure that employers understood the needs of their employees, especially those with mental health and the disabled and the challenges they faced to ensure they were happy in their jobs.  He suggested that the Committee might wish to visit some of the employment providers that worked with people from different backgrounds to gain an understanding of the work it entailed.

 

The Chair then highlighted the following issues:

·         There was a need to consider whether adequate jobs existed within the borough and if they suited the needs of individuals.  Also, to create job opportunities thorough the Council’s contractual obligations with other partnerships, adequate jobs must be created by the Council to support the needs of residents.

·         It was recognised that certain groups in the community had difficulty obtaining employment, especially the BAME and disabled people who were disadvantaged.  Consequently, the Council needed to investigate how they can become employed and the relationship between the Council, DWP and other partners in the process of job creation was crucial.

·         There was a need to examine low paid employment and to ensure that the Council’s contractors and other employers paid the LLW but the Committee appreciated that issues existed.

·         The Committee would like to monitor employment within the borough, paying attention to whether residents had access to the same level of employment opportunities compared to other boroughs.

·         An examination of the training opportunities available for residents should be carried out to ensure they were equipped for the competitive employment market.

 

Members also highlighted the following issues:

·         They requested an update next year regarding the gig economy and how this effected the Council.  The update should include data on the self-employed detailing whether they had been exploited in the gig economy.

·         An investigation by the Council should be undertaken to ascertain how organisations such as Mosiac, Tree Shepherd and First Step Trust could be brought into the gig economy world.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the Committee welcomes and endorses the work being done by organisations such as Mosaic Clubhouse, First Step Trust and Tree Shepherd, as well as the support offered by Job Centre Plus (JCP), to support Lambeth residents who are furthest from the jobs market, but believes that greater communication and engagement are required to further improve outcomes. To this end the Committee recommends that JCP consider remapping their outreach activity to ensure connections between employers and support organisations are maximised.

 

2.         That the Committee acknowledges the potential for self-employment as a route into work, especially for those residents for whom flexibility is a key requirement, and would like to see greater efforts devoted to encouraging self-employment.

 

3.         That the Committee requests further information and data regarding how contracts are currently monitored to ensure the delivery of employment-related social value benefits.

 

4.         To request an evaluation of the Work and Health programme, including details of the numbers of people enrolled and outcomes secured by participants.

 

5.         To request that JCP share details of the smaller, more localised support programmes referred to which are aimed at those groups who are over-represented in the borough’s unemployment figures (including disabled, BME and over-50s).

 

6.         That the Council considers introducing discounted advertising rates (for example, in Lambeth Talk and/or billboards around the borough) as an incentive to encourage businesses to become London Living Wage accredited.

 

7.         That consideration be given to introducing a mechanism by which employment support organisations can be systematically alerted to new planning or licensing applications which are likely to provide employment opportunities.

 

8.         To request further detail regarding how the Council plans to forecast the way in which the borough’s employment market will evolve over time, and how this data can be used to ensure employment opportunities are maximised for Lambeth residents.

 

9.         To request further analysis of self-employment data to ascertain what proportion relates to the “gig economy” and what can be done to ensure those working in this sector are not being exploited

 

 


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