On Sunday the BBC provided a taxi, so I could appear on their Sunday Politics show.
The driver who took me home was a Romanian. He was smartly dressed in a suit. He spoke English well. He explained that he lived in a single room in East London. The house is owned by another Romanian with a mortgage. There are three bedrooms, all let out to Romanian workers. The landlord and his family live downstairs.
The driver works long hours. His family live in Romania. He tries to earn as much as possible for a few months, and then returns to be with his family for the summer holiday or the Christmas holiday. He minimises his expenses on accommodation, though still finds London property dear. He spends little on himself, as he wishes to send as much money back for his family as possible. He is paid only for the time he is driving with paying passengers in the car. He makes it work, and finds it easier to maintain his remote family on London pay and long hours, than from the unemployment ridden labour market of his home city. He joked that he is paying the mortgage of his Romanian landlord, who doubtless will end up richer and successful.
This driver, like many other recent arrivals, provides a good service, works hard and does not complain about his lot in life. The question is why do some of the longer term unemployed who have lived here all their lives not find the many service jobs available of interest for them? Why is London increasingly serviced by people who have recently come here and may be going back when they have earned enough money? This gentleman said there had been no problem getting the job or completing the short training to be out on the road.
As I have highlighted before, good intentions are continuing to make it less worthwhile to work. The addition of a 3% employer charge and a 4% employee tax for the NEST pension scheme comes on top of the 4% improvement in benefits relative to wages over the last couple of years. It is still getting less wortwhile for people settled here to work.