Jobs and unemployment in Lewisham, Southwark and Greenwich

We’ve been sent some data about jobs and unemployment in South East London from Adzuna, a service that aggregates job ads from a range of websites. Since Lewisham’s status as a “dormitory” borough (they sleep here, but work elsewhere) is a strategic challenge for Lewisham Council and a topic often brought up in discussions on here, we thought it would be interesting to get some data comparing Lewisham (population 265,000) with our two neighbouring boroughs: Southwark (pop. 287,000) and Greenwich (pop. 228,000).
Southwark obviously covers much of the south bank, which offers a far greater concentration of jobs, than either Greenwich or Lewisham and had more job vacancies available on the day the snapshot was taken (June 29th, 2011) than the other two. The fact that Adzuna only tracks jobs advertised in the classifieds means that it’s not the complete picture, but as an indicator of the availability of casual job opportunities, it’s quite striking that there was only one Greenwich-based job advertised.
Most striking of all though, is the rising number of job seekers allowance claimants over the last three years, a pattern seen in all three boroughs between 2007 and 2011.


Lou Baker said...

It is really not a challenge expecting people who live in Lewisham to work in, say, Southwark, Tower Hamlets or the City.

Many - if not most - of us work outside the area. We commute. It's what that hulking orange beast you all rave about is for. There are trains, there are buses, you can cycle. Distance is a fake barrier.

People here who don't have a job because they claim there are none here are simply lazy. There are plenty of jobs in London - if you have to commute half an hour or an hour to get to it, join the club. So do most of the rest of us.

A quick wander through the West End and you'll find countless shops, bars, restaurants advertising for staff. Agencies always need people to help with deliveries, cleaning and the like.

I understand they may not be desirable or well paid - but there are plenty of jobs around. And it is easier to move up into a better job when you already have a job.

But the fact is some people refuse to accept this. They can always find an excuse for being unemployed. But their excuses are now wearing thin.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, Lou, I agree that we can't look at any of these jobs markets in isolation - people can and do travel.

However, as I think we've discussed before, there are benefits to an area that come from having a good range of local employment opportunities.

The joblessness figures also have a bearing on the finances of Lewisham Council and demand for local services, never mind the human story they represent.

Lou Baker said...


But Lewisham Council has repeatedly demonstrated itself completely unable to attract the right sort of investment - and a part of that is down to the attitude of residents.

Tesco opens a small store and Max and his corduroy wearing buddies scream blue-murder because if it's not state subsidised it must be evil. Hence we have a proliferation of crappy stores and charity shops.

We have no decent office accommodation to speak of - and with cheap rents in the City, Southwark and Canary Wharf in new state of the art buildings - who is going to relocate to a 70s shithole in Lewisham?

A few years ago there was a suggestion of building a cruise ship terminal at Deptford. Brilliant idea which could have created lots of jobs. Dismissed on account of the fact that the beardy wierdies don't want affluence here.

Elect a more pro-business council which doesn't wallow in its own self pity and see business come. Don't and don't. The chances of the anti-capitalist Bullock regime attracting anything more lucrative than a British Heart Foundation shop here are, frankly, minimal.

Brockley Nick said...

Funnily enough Lou, you could find no more passionate advocate of a cruise liner terminal in Deptford than Max. They're now building one in Greenwich.

Lou Baker said...

Really? That surprises me. Maybe Max wants to glare at rich cruise ship passengers and throw allotment grown organic vegetables at them as they disembark.

I heard they were now building a cruise ship terminal in Greenwich. The point is, it could have been here.

We said no.


Have you done a thread on the cable car yet? The best thing to happen to south London since I moved in.

a name will do said...

Lewisham council don't have an agenda for changing the boroughs 'dormitory' status - indeed it is one of the reasons why there are so many developments in the area to supply convenient 'housing' (the subject of whether this 'housing' serves any long-term purpose other than to sell the bank-balance of investors is a moot point) - to prolong the 'dormitory' status and to shore up the self perpetuating building industry that has no long-term interest in anything they do other than to be assured it'll need to be replaced in about 30 years. The gaunt evidence for this is the 'citibank' tower in the centre of lewisham, built in the 60s, now an empty reminder of a council all too willing to bend over backwards to a corporate client flattering the weak-willed council. This history will repeat itself.

At the moment Lewisham Council is the biggest employer in the borough, but they are steadily closing down departments within the council as services are out-sourced - out-sourced to often negligent employers who, rather than supporting jobs previously funded by the council, will replace these people with untrained volunteers. The libraries 'adventure' will play itself out over the next year with huge failure and the Council saying they 'did all they could' to keep the resource and blaming the coalition. The will neglect to say they started to privatise the libraries at least two years before the coalition took power and they will neglect to say they ran a flawed privatisation process where it's almost impossible for the current 'owner' of the majority of the libraries to be able to run them efficiently and legally.

The Council has a short-term and blinkered view which doesn't extend beyond the limited imagination of the officers and, at it's head, a mayor more interested in promoting what was the 'new labour' idealism ie, privatisiation, but this has now turning into the coalitions 'big society' with the labour controlled council trying to escape embarrassment because they've been following this agenda for years.

The Council may wish to promote the fact that they are cutting services against their will, the reality is that they are continuing with an agenda they set in motion many years ago, but they are trying to protect their own political futures by saying they are against the cuts.

Anonymous said...

@ Lou, you are missing the point. Bullock and the socialist Council are voted by those people that receive unemployment benefits.

The system has worked for him for over 30 years: pay the people for doing nothing and they will vote for you.

Provide them with free accomodation and they will vote for you.

Hence, a massive Council housing development plan across the Borough.

I am afraid that Lewisham is not going to change because of the people living in it.

After the worst Labour leadership decade in History, Labour actually increased their grip on Lewisham at the last Council elections.

However should the transfer of funds from central Government stop, perhaps the Council would need to rethink their strategy prioritising revenue from business and tax paying residents. I do not think that closing down libraries was a serious attempt to put the house in order.

max said...

Lou, you're getting your cliches all mixed up, either that or you're not sophisticated enough to understand them.

I object to the Tesco Express because with their overwhelming competitive advantage they are a threat to good local shops that provide a better and wider range of goods than Tesco does.
I only wish Tesco would stick at doing the supermarket instead of pretending of being 'local'.

But since this is a thread about employment let me wrap up by pointing at the fact that if thse Tesco Express would send these shops out of buisness unemployement in Lewisham would be marginally even worse.

Tamsin said...

This sounds a reasonable enough analyis to me.

And I would be interested in the source of information that a cruise terminal in Deptford was turned down by local nimy-ism. I thought it was mooted for Greenwich almost from the outset. There is such a tiny stretch of river-frontage that's in Lewisham anyway.

Anonymous said...

Closing libraries was just an easy option.They should of got rid of Conmays,who charge extortionate prices for shoddy work,and bring in there own building workers for the small jobs,filling pot holes etc.

Lou Baker said...


Indeed. It was suggested for Convoys Wharf. But a combination of an inept council and local busybodies did for it. I remember reading of the plans several years ago - 2003 maybe.


But Tesco creates jobs too. In fact, it probably creates more jobs than any of the local 'independent' stores you champion. Plus those are jobs which will have opportunities for promotion, benefits, pensions and the like which - with the best will in the world - Dodgy Bloke and Son Grocer will never provide. PLUS the really good shops survive anyway as competition helps raise standards.

You seem to believe individuals can not make their own choices. That life by state dictate is somehow superior. We all make our own decisions in life and if we decide to throw things away that's up to us.

@ a name

I absolutely object to this cycle of hopelessness some people find themselves in. No job, no house, live off the state, have kids who have no job, no house, live off the state .... It is a circle which needs to be broken. This sort of permanent state-dependency is a life-style for some people. They do not know better. They have never had to know better. The system has never really helped them. It has kept them down on the margins of society. I believe the system is broken and by fixing it you'll help those stuck in this cycle of helplessness. I fight a battle against people like Max - who seem to believe that no one should have any responsibility for their own life at all.

max said...

What's this state dictate rubbish Lou, if there's anything resembling a state here it's Tesco, then there's your state of mind, but that's for the specialists.

Anonymous said...

@ Max - I can tell that you do not travel out of Lewisham much. Please do so and you will realise that there are places where Budgens, Tesco and Waitrose are on the same road and next to a fish monger, a baker and many other local shops. Where? many zone 2 areas. One example? Crouch End. The reason? people like to go to one place for all their shopping. The same people will spend their money in local shops if their quality is better than that of the chain, even at a premium.

Tamsin said...

Council ineptitude I will go for.

Another factor might have been the realisation that there is no transport infrastructure in Eveleyn - apart from intermittent bus services.

max said...

Lou, no disrespect to the people of Crouch End, I never had a reason to go there, is the baker near Tesco a Greggs?

Lou Baker said...


It wasn't me who gave the Crouch End example - but it's a good one.

As is Chiswick - even, to a lesser extent, Greenwich town centre and Canary Wharf.

These are all places where small chain supermarkets have moved in. But where good quality independent shops have remained. Sure, some have closed down - but others have opened.

My nearest high street is, actually, Nunhead. I think a Tesco metro there would be great - because I'm not convinced by the 'convenience store'. But I have no doubt a supermarket arriving would have a hugely positive impact on the brilliant bakers, butchers and fishmongers along the parade.

You seem so scared of Tesco. It's a shop. It's had a good run. It'll have a bad run one day. If you don't like it, don't go. It won't kill you.

max said...

Lou, on the other thread I wrote that if they had opened in Ladywell Road they'd have filled a gap, there where they opened they are actually a threat to existing good businesses and a stone's throw from properly sized supermakets not pretending of being 'your local'.

By the way, you called the indipendent shops "dodgy", let me remind you that before the Turkish Food Centre network was established around London supermarkets were selling only and exclusively fruit and vegetable that were tastelss, feeble looking, and void of any nutritional value. The good old days when you could play tennis with a tomato.

ahem said...

I hear there's a new job creation scheme starting up in various parts of London at the moment. Most of the work will be going to glaziers.

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