Sunday, 19 June 2011

Hackney jobseekers: 11,000 and "entrenched"?

The number of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants in Hackney rose to 11,043 in May, up from 10,941 in April.

That's 7.3% of the borough's working population.

In Hackney South and Shoreditch, Meg Hillier's constituency, 8.3% of the working population is on the dole. It has risen every month since December 2010 when it was 7.3%.

These look worryingly high in comparison to the London average of 4.2%. Last week the Guardian commented: "Some of those parliamentary constituency areas, like Birmingham Ladywood, and Hackney South and Shoreditch, in east London, already have some of the highest proportions of benefit claimants, suggesting joblessness there is becoming entrenched."

The JSA claimant figure does not include all forms of unemployment - the bulk of which is known as 'Worklessness' and can include anyone from students to people claiming incapacity benefit.

All together 29.8% of working-age people in the borough are not employed (or 70.2% are employed). The break down between Hackney's two constituencies shows 32% of working age people are not employed in South Hackney while in Hackney North the figure is lower at 26.8%.

But it's worth remembering that worklessness figures are not easy to interpret. Despite having had years to look at it - and saying it would do so - the council has yet to explain why the borough's worklessness figures fell so miraculously (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth and Hackney: A worklessness miracle) from 47,100 in 2005 to 26,900 in 2007 - a much faster rate than neighbouring boroughs. The latest figures show the number around 34,000.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Questions for Gardeners Question Time and Hackney

De Beauvoir Gardeners will be hosting the BBC's GQT (that's Gardener's Question Time) in the crypt of St Peter's Church in De Beauvoir Square with tickets selling for £2 for people who aren't members of De Beauvoir Gardeners.

I read about it in the Gazette and it's on 7th June hopefully tickets are still for sale - although I couldn't find it on the BBC's website (that doesn't mean its not there) or on the St Peter's website for the crypt.

I can't go even if there are tickets. But if anyone's looking for questions...

Firstly, are gnomes ok? I used to fear them but not enough to remove my predecessor's collection, now a lost village of gnomes usually hidden in my back garden.

But is there a Hackney angle to the garden debate? The politics of gardening presents some ideas. This essay contained lots interesting ideas and was based on Hackney City Farm. Among the many points it made was that Hackney doesn't have enough allotments: 'While there are over 30,000 active allotment holders in London, (Garnett 2005) there are only 124 remaining allotment plots in Hackney (Hackney Council, 2008), home to some 212,200 people (Ibid., 2010)– nowhere near 4 acres per 1000 people.'

And: 'These socio‐political histories had the effect of restricting garden use and urban land cultivation to wealthier classes by limiting access to a large part of London’s green space to those with private transportation, private gardens, or access to government licensed allotments.'

Otherwise there's less cerebral problems like the Hackney blogger Glamorous Gardener's occasional run-ins with the authorities (The older problem with passion flowers and dead rosemary and the more recent camomile lawn and clematis trampling incident.)

Or last year when the Council wouldn't let gardeners do voluntary work in Hackney parks and public areas unless they paid £1000. This might have changed - apparently Jules Pipe was onto the legal department about it - and there seems to be a full schedule of stuff going on in Hackney parks ranging from consultations over BBQs in London fields and dodgy dogs to actual plant care lessons.

So, what questions?

I was hoping to find something useful about gardening in Hackney as opposed to anywhere else. It hasn't really happened.

Although it would be helpful if they know of any fox-repelling plants.

Otherwise, can a gardener give anything away about their politics (or anything else for that matter) in their garden or gardening style? These looked they might be interesting, both (1 and 2) from the USA about gardening and what it's about and this, but nothing that interesting.