London’s inequalities increasing because of Covid-19 but city retains its appeal


Coronavirus risks increasing London’s inequalities, though the city retains its appeal as a place to live, according to a new survey.

The survey is the first quarterly Snapshot of Londoners by Centre for London, in partnership with Savanta.

The survey, which asked over 1,500 Londoners how they have been affected by the pandemic and lockdown, found that:

Londoners’ diverging economic experiences of the crisis risks increasing inequality.

  • Nearly half of Londoners (45%) have seen their disposable income fall since the beginning of the crisis, while one in six Londoners (17%) have seen their income increase. This compares to 44% and 13% across the UK.
  • Some groups are more likely to have seen their disposable income fall: self-employed people (65%), part time workers (56%), people who were born outside the UK (53%) and parents (51%), are less likely to be cushioned by the security of a job or housing tenure.
  • 28% of Londoners report they are struggling to make ends meet. This is highest for people with a disability (45%), parents with children aged under 18 (38%), people who are new to the city (37%), part-time workers and renters (both 36%).
  • 7% of Londoners reported using a food bank in the last month, rising to 15% of those aged 16 to 24, and 11% of people with disabilities.

Despite these experiences, Londoners remain positive about their city and perhaps counter-intuitively are not expecting to move out.

  • Looking to the year ahead, Londoners are more concerned about their finances (29% are pessimistic) than about their health (17% are pessimistic).
  • But despite recruitment plummeting and uncertainty around reopening, 38% of Londoners are optimistic about their employment and 40% are optimistic about their financial prospects over the coming year.
  • Remote working could allow more workers to live outside the capital, but most Londoners expect to continue living in the city over the next 12 months. 65% are happy living in London and only eight per cent say they are likely to leave London in the coming year.

Erica Belcher, researcher at Centre for London said: “The experience of the pandemic has been very different for different Londoners depending on individual circumstance.

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“While some Londoners have been relatively sheltered from the economic fallout so far, many have seen a hit to their finances – and many of these were already struggling.

“Londoners remain broadly positive about their future in the city, but many could be facing real hardship once temporary measures protecting from income loss and eviction are phased out.

“As London plans its recovery, we need to rebuild a fair and prosperous city for all Londoners”.

Oliver Worsfold, associate director at Savanta, said: “We’re seeing yet again that the virus and lockdown measures do not affect all Londoners in the same way. It has exacerbated existing issues – those that were already ‘just about managing’ are now being hit the hardest.

“Despite the current uncertainty, Londoners firmly feel that the city offers them the best opportunity to weather the storm – and very few see themselves leaving in the next 12 months.

“London’s diversity is a key strength of the city and this research further shows that recovery plans need to work for people of all backgrounds and circumstances.”

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