Thousands of people join the TUC's Britain Needs a Pay Rise demonstration in London today. Photograph: Getty Images.
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When it comes to pay, Londoners need real change

We need a mayor who works to help Londoners with second jobs, not those with second homes. 

Just yesterday, as I walked towards the tube on my way out of Parliament, I walked past HMRC to see a crowd of people on the street. When I looked closer, I saw it was a group of Whitehall cleaners, protesting to be paid a living wage, with "don’t wash your hands of us" written on their palms. It turns out that the cleaners had requested to meet with the HMRC chief executive to discuss their low pay, but had been denied an audience. They’d sent a letter to him earlier this year which said:

"We work hard to keep the offices clean, but we are paid less than it costs to live. Due to our low pay many of us have two or even three jobs to make ends meet, working long hours, leaving the house at 4.30am and not returning until past 9pm."

I could tell Staggers readers that this resonates with stories I hear every week at my advice surgeries in Tooting, but it doesn't. The reason why? They are all at work! The constituents I hear these stories from are people like Adowa, who I met at a Sunday church service, who leaves Tooting via the night bus during the week at 4am to get to north London for the first of her two cleaning jobs. And people like Stephen, who gets the 44 bus (which my Dad used to drive) to get to work in central London. Stephen leaves his young son and daughter sleeping when he leaves the house, only to return past their bedtime when he gets home after a double shift. And that’s on a good day when he is given work - his employer has hundreds of people like him on zero hour contracts, leaving Stephen and his family unable to plan week to week, let alone for the long term future.

It's stories like this that really make me stop and think about what our city has become. A recent report by Changing London showed just how unequal London has become. One in five jobs in London are now "low paid" and this number has rocketed under Boris Johnson. Nearly a third of Londoners now live in poverty and, even more staggeringly, two thirds of them are actually in work. The number of people in "in-work poverty" has risen by almost half a million since 2001. I was shocked, but not surprised, when I read the Global Wealth Report which landed on my desk this week. It found that the UK is the only G7 country in which the gap between rich and poor is rising this century.

Having a job no longer guarantees that you can afford to live in the capital. It’s just not right that Londoners can go to work every day, work long hours and still live in poverty, struggling to bring up their families. Londoners like Adowa and Stephen both need and deserve real change. Those who live and work in our city should be paid enough not to have to work two jobs, and to keep families out of poverty. Let’s get it straight - wages have completely failed to keep pace with the cost-of living in London. As housing and bills takes up an ever higher percentage of Londoner’s salaries, tens of thousands of hard working families have been pushed into poverty.

I want London to be a more equal city, and evidence shows that this would be better for all of us. That's why I joined more than 80,000 people who took part in the @PayRise4Britain march today. From teachers to nurses, to postal works to civil servants, I spoke to people from across our city who are feeling the stresses and strains of just getting by day to day. Moving forward, when it comes to pay, Londoners need real change. We need a mayor who works to help Londoners with second jobs, not those with second homes. The living wage is not a luxury in London, it allows families to pay their bills and stay afloat. By massively increasing the minimum wage and making the living wage a reality for millions more Londoners, we can make a real difference, ensuring that all Londoners share our city's successes, and that no one is left behind.

Sadiq Khan is Labour's shadow London minister. He joined the TUC's Pay Rise for Britain march in central London today.

Sadiq Khan is MP for Tooting, shadow justice secretary and shadow minister for London.
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A global marketplace: the internet represents exporting’s biggest opportunity

The advent of the internet age has made the whole world a single marketplace. Selling goods online through digital means offers British businesses huge opportunities for international growth. The UK was one of the earliest adopters of online retail platforms, and UK online sales revenues are growing at around 20 per cent each year, not just driving wider economic growth, but promoting the British brand to an enthusiastic audience.

Global e-commerce turnover grew at a similar rate in 2014-15 to over $2.2trln. The Asia-Pacific region, for example, is embracing e-marketplaces with 28 per cent growth in 2015 to over $1trln of sales. This demonstrates the massive opportunities for UK exporters to sell their goods more easily to the world’s largest consumer markets. My department, the Department for International Trade, is committed to being a leader in promoting these opportunities. We are supporting UK businesses in identifying these markets, and are providing access to services and support to exploit this dramatic growth in digital commerce.

With the UK leading innovation, it is one of the responsibilities of government to demonstrate just what can be done. My department is investing more in digital services to reach and support many more businesses, and last November we launched our new digital trade hub: www.great.gov.uk. Working with partners such as Lloyds Banking Group, the new site will make it easier for UK businesses to access overseas business opportunities and to take those first steps to exporting.

The ‘Selling Online Overseas Tool’ within the hub was launched in collaboration with 37 e-marketplaces including Amazon and Rakuten, who collectively represent over 2bn online consumers across the globe. The first government service of its kind, the tool allows UK exporters to apply to some of the world’s leading overseas e-marketplaces in order to sell their products to customers they otherwise would not have reached. Companies can also access thousands of pounds’ worth of discounts, including waived commission and special marketing packages, created exclusively for Department for International Trade clients and the e-exporting programme team plans to deliver additional online promotions with some of the world’s leading e-marketplaces across priority markets.

We are also working with over 50 private sector partners to promote our Exporting is GREAT campaign, and to support the development and launch of our digital trade platform. The government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign is targeting potential partners across the world as our export trade hub launches in key international markets to open direct export opportunities for UK businesses. Overseas buyers will now be able to access our new ‘Find a Supplier’ service on the website which will match them with exporters across the UK who have created profiles and will be able to meet their needs.

With Lloyds in particular we are pleased that our partnership last year helped over 6,000 UK businesses to start trading overseas, and are proud of our association with the International Trade Portal. Digital marketplaces have revolutionised retail in the UK, and are now connecting consumers across the world. UK businesses need to seize this opportunity to offer their products to potentially billions of buyers and we, along with partners like Lloyds, will do all we can to help them do just that.

Taken from the New Statesman roundtable supplement Going Digital, Going Global: How digital skills can help any business trade internationally

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