Tree Shepherd * Press Release * 13 September 2016
Merton Council Leader joins social entrepreneur Colin Crooks in calling on the Mayor of London for radical change as zero hours contracts rise by 20 per cent
On 8 September 2016, the leader of Merton Council, Cllr Stephen Alambritis joined Colin Crooks from social enterprise Tree Shepherd in a lively debate about the future of employment and deprivation in London, as the Office of National Statistics announced the number of people on zero hours contracts had risen by 20 per cent.
Chaired by AM member for Merton and Wandsworth, Leonie Cooper, Cllr Alambritis responded to a provocation by CEO of Lambeth-based social enterprise Tree Shepherd Colin Crooks, in a seminar at Siemens Crystal. The event, entitled ‘Our Future London: Emerging Economies and Green Business’ is one of five debates organised by the London Sustainability Exchange, which will culminate in a report outlining key recommendations to Mayor Sadiq Khan on major changes in the capital.
Crooks, CEO of Tree Shepherd, whose 20-year career has seen him campaign for local change and is helping over 600 people to start their own business, said:
‘The statistic from ONS is saddening, but not a surprise. People in deprived communities, who are barely making ends meet, are being forced into unsuitable jobs with no job security, in a desperate attempt to keep themselves and their families afloat. It’s despicable, and time we realised that the current model of high-level regeneration and investment in an area, with the promise of a ‘trickle-down’ effect to local communities is not working.
‘Our clients have waited years for the so-called benefits of a growing economy to reach them. It’s time we started investing in them right at the source – councils should be helping businesses on their doorstep – creating trading networks, promoting local companies and cutting the red tape – like complicated housing benefit regulations, which is tripping people up as they start out.
‘The Mayor needs to look forward and think big. Why can’t there be a Greater London ‘Uber’, for example, run locally, with profits pumped into local businesses rather than being creamed off by Silicon Valley?’
Cllr Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, agreed, ‘Growth is important. But some people benefit, and others are left behind. Within Merton alone, the life differential is 13 years. A lady in Wimbledon village lives 13 years longer than the lady in Mitcham.
[…] The pressure on me is gentrification, I am encouraged to build apartments for young couples who work in the city, and to improve Morden’s shopping offer for them’.
‘I agree on the problems surrounding housing benefit changes. We need to convince the Mayor to start a new regime for social enterprises. He needs to engage with the government to lift burdens like business rates and get more deprived people, from deprived areas, into the world of business.’
Tree Shepherd is a social enterprise, which promotes grassroots entrepreneurship, to create local employment and tackling worklessness. Formed in 2011 by Colin Crooks, it supports local businesses through training and continuous development. Its Forest Network offers a mutually beneficial peer-to-peer network for new entrepreneurs, to enable them to develop and grow their businesses.
Notes to Editors