- 700,000 children, 1.4 million working-age adults and 200,000 pensioners in London are in poverty. That is 37% of all children, 24% of all working-age adults, and 19% of all pensioners.
- There are people in poverty in every London borough. Every borough has areas where the poverty rate is above the rest of England average.
- While the poverty rate has fallen over the last few years, the depth of poverty has been increasing, with the proportion of households whose income is below 50% of median income (rather than 60% - official poverty measure) rising by 1.5 percentage points in the last five years (some 130,000 people).
Inequality Wealth inequality, which is higher than income inequality, is also a significant issue in London. The bottom 50% of London households own just over 5% of London’s wealth, whereas the top 10% owns over half. The amount of wealth held by the bottom tenth of households fell by one third in London between 2010–12 and 2012–14, whereas in Great Britain it fell by just 2%. Someone just in the top 10% saw their wealth grow by 25% in London over the same period. In Great Britain it was 15%. This means that in London, wealth for someone just in the top 10% is now 295 times higher than someone just in the bottom 10%. In 2010–12 it was 160 times higher – a huge increase.
The problem with work: in-work poverty and insecurity The fall in London’s poverty rate has occurred alongside record employment levels. The number of unemployed people in London fell to 280,000 in 2016, down from a peak in 2011 at 430,000. Yet for the majority of the 2.3 million Londoners in poverty, work is not enough to help them avoid financial struggle. The majority of people living in poverty (58%) are living in a working family, the highest this figure has ever been. This figure was 44% a decade earlier and 28% two decades ago. Around 70% of children in poverty in London are in a working family. In the rest of England 55% of people in poverty are in working families.
In addition, work for many has become less secure. In 2016, the number of workers in London on temporary contracts was at an all-time high at 260,000 with one in three (33%) on a temporary contract wanting a permanent one, this is still above pre-recession levels of around one in four.
Housing London’s high levels of poverty relative to the rest of England are largely explained by high housing costs. Private rents in London are more than twice the average for England. 'Social' rents have also grown significantly over the last five years. Rents for local authority social housing have increased by around 30% in London and England. Housing association rents have increased 26% in London and 19% across England. Over this time, the number of London children living in the social rented sector who are in poverty has started to increase again - up 40,000 to 290,000.
Despite record levels of Londoners in work, poverty rates have only nudged down slightly over the last few years. Over two million Londoners are struggling to make ends meet. That’s more than the entire populations of Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Newcastle combined. The reality remains, that for many work does not pay enough, or offer the security that people need.