Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Lonely Londoners - High prices push Jamaicans out of England’s capital

Published:Wednesday | August 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
'Presser' displays items he bought at a pound store, which he argues sells items for cheaper than the more established grocery stores in London.
'Presser' points at a toilet which he said has been broken for weeks without attention from his landlord.
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Jamaicans are among hundreds of nationals being pushed further and further outside of London as Britain's tightening economy makes it increasingly difficult for many to afford living there.

"We have to live, but to live in this town here, you have to be skilfull. London come in like we are living on the poverty line every day," shared 'Presser', a middle-aged labourer from Jamaica, who resides in a two-bedroom apartment in Catford, about half an hour outside of the capital city.

Presser lived in London for more than two decades.

"After tax, my wages that I take home is like £1,200 and little bit, and my rent is £1,150," said Presser with a laugh at his predicament.

"You use to have a thing name tax credit, where you get certain things: health, dental, and so on, free. Dem cut off them things there. Once you a earn £16,000 a year, you have to pay everything."

Presser said that after rent, the remainder of his salary goes towards travel and purchasing food at the nearest 'pound store', which he explains sells items by weight, much cheaper than the conventional supermarkets.

He still has to buy clothes, but Presser said these he buys mostly from German retailers, who sell items for cheaper than their English counterparts.

According to the young grandfather, if it wasn't for juggling on the side, he would be out on the street, a candidate of the various food banks set up to ensure that London's poorest do not starve to death.

... Much has changed for Jamaicans living in London

A middle-aged labourer from Jamaica residing in a two-bedroom apartment in Catford, about half an hour outside of the England's capital city, has argued that because of the rising prices, many Jamaicans have opted to live outside London, where rent may be as low as £400 each month.

But there is a catch. According to the Jamaican, who gave his name only as 'Presser', persons working outside of London earn less money; and if they work in London but live outside the capital, they will have to pay costly transportation fees to the city.

He told The Gleaner that failing those options, residents must prepare to share apartments, renting rooms instead of houses. And many of the houses in London are decades old, breaking and moulding in areas, with little maintenance from landlords.

"Everybody wants to come London come live. London is busy, country shut down by six o'clock. Because of that, the price them high and we have to deal with them kinds of behaviours here," said Presser.

"Over the last five years, since the last economic crisis, the economy has taken a turn down, and since them plan to let go of the EU (European Union), things are only going to get worse," added Robert Howard, another Jamaican living in England for 25 years.

He said much has changed for Jamaicans living in London, especially those who are there illegally and without work permits.

The two men cited several neighbour-hoods in London, for example, Brixton, which were once predominantly black before their owners started selling out or giving up their leases.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com