2014 elections: Latin American Manifesto

This brief explains the main challenges facing the Latin American community in London and the UK and presents a series of recommendations to tackle those issues. For more information about our work with the community, please visit our elections page.

Brief overview of the Latin American community

The Latin American community is one of London’s fastest growing groups, with 113,500 in 2008 and increasing numbers coming from Spain, Portugal and Italy fleeing the economic crisis.

The cultural and economic contribution of Latin Americans to London and the UK is reflected in the wide offer of Latin American restaurants, festivals, cultural events, media and commercial initiatives. However, and in spite of being a highly qualified group with high rates of employment (85%), many live in poverty and suffer from exclusion and exploitation.

Many Latin Americans take jobs in the cleaning and catering industries. These sectors lack regulations and are characterised by extremely poor working conditions: many areemployed casually or on a temporary basis, with no entitlement to annual leave or sick pay, and with unsocial working hours very early in the morning and late in the evening. These working conditions and recent regulations make it extremely difficult for Latin Americans to access ESOL provision in order to access better jobs and move up the economic ladder.

Stuck in these areas of work, Latin Americans experience downward mobility, disadvantage, and exploitation in the labour market, with 40% reporting workplace abuse, 11% being paid less than the National Minimum Wage, and 70% perceiving discrimination as a major barrier in the UK.

In spite of low incomes, only 1 in 5 Latin Americans claim some form of welfare benefit, which is much lower than the London average. This situation translates into poor living conditions and limited access to services: at least one third are sharing their homes/rooms with other families, 1 in 5 are not registered with a GP, and only 4 out of 10 have been to a dentist in the UK.1

We call all parties and candidates to take on the following recommendations for the inclusion of Latin Americans:


  • Official recognition of Latin Americans as an ethnic group, following Southwark Council September 2012 and Lambeth Council, which recognised Latin Americans in September 2012 and November 2013, respectively.
  • Inclusion of the “Latin American” category in ethnic monitoring forms and in Public Health surveillance strategy.
  • Local authorities to promote and facilitate the participation of the Latin American community in consultation and decision making processes in all areas, including housing, community safety, health, local planning and education.
  • Inclusion of Latin American organisations as stakeholders in councils’ communication and engagement strategies.

Labour Rights

  • Councils to monitor the practices of agencies employing and managing outsourced staff (e.g. cleaners, catering, security, etc.) in order to combat exploitation and abuse both within the council and contracted services.
  • Councils to ensure a London Living Wage to all staff and outsourced workers.


  • Inclusion of Latin Americans in local JSNA in order to explore Latin Americans health needs and barriers to NHS health services.
  • Informative material in Spanish and Portuguese on basic health services available.
  • Councils and Public Health to develop an outreach strategy to Latin Americans engaging with organisations providing services to the community.
  • Informative workshops for Latin Americans about availability of services and access regulations.
  • Representatives to oppose changes proposed by the Home Office on migrants’ access to health services.


  • Councils to take positive actions to ensure that every Latin American child access education.
  • Councils to collaborate with supplementary schools who accompany the learning process of minority ethnic children by providing a legal framework that protects their stability.


  • Local authorities to work collaboratively with specialised Latin American organisations providing linguistically and culturally appropriate services to the local community.

Member organisations of the Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK (CLAUK):

Ecuadorian House
ESFORAL Supplementary School
Indoamerican Refugee Migrant Organisation
Latin American Disabled People’s Project
Latin American House
Latin American Women’s Aid
Latin American Women’s Rights Service
Latin Support Group
Ecuadorian Movement in the UK
Naz latina
Telephone of Hope

Contact: Lucila Granada Advocacy & Campaigns Coordinator Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK www.clauk.org.uk [email protected]

1 Source: McIlwaine, Cock and Linneker, 2011. No Longer Invisible: The Latin American Community in London, Queen Mary University of London. Report commissioned by Trust for London and LAWRS.