Sadiq Khan fears ‘historic’ unemployment in London


London faces a “historic rise in unemployment” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic without industry-targeted Government support, the Mayor has warned.

Sadiq Khan said ministers must offer a “much more tailored” recovery plan for the capital.

It came as figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed spiking benefits claims in the city.

Almost 460,000 people – or 7.6% of the population – are now claiming unemployment-related benefits in London.

The data shows a stark increase on last year, with 293,000 extra claimants representing a 177% rise.

Inner London is faring slightly worse than the outer boroughs, with 7.7% of the population on benefits in the city centre compared to 7.5% further out.

But Haringey is the worst hit council area, with more than one in ten people now claiming support.

Barking and Dagenham (10%), Brent (9.7%), Newham (9.6%) and Waltham Forest (9.2%) are also hard hit.

news london

NOW READ: Sadiq Khan defends openness about mental health

Benefits claims have doubled or worse in 13 of London’s 33 local authorities – with the biggest rise in Harrow, which saw a 278% increase.

Redbridge (257%), Newham (246%) and Hillingon (241%) also registered big jumps in claimants.

In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry summer reception, the Mayor welcomed the Chancellor’s plans to support jobs, apprenticeships and careers services in the wake of the virus.

Rishi Sunak announced a package of economy-boosting measures including a £1,000 bonus for each employee a firm brings back from furlough, and up to £10 off meals out next month.

But Mr Khan said more sector-specific support will be needed in the capital – where hospitality, tourism and the creative industries have been hard hit.

Almost 1.1 million Londoners work in these high risk sectors, according to Greater London Authority research.

And more than a million workers in the capital have been furloughed – 12% of the UK total – putting them at risk of unemployment if economic conditions do not improve, GLA analysis of HM Revenue and Customs data suggests.

“The Government need to target assistance in devastated sectors to prevent a historic rise in unemployment,” the Mayor said.

“Ministers were clearly too slow to act on the health consequences of Covid-19, and we simply can’t afford for the Government to be too slow to act on the huge economic consequences as well.

“This will not only hurt our city, but will have a massive negative knock-on effect on the rest of the country.”

For the latest headlines from the City of London and beyond, follow City Matters on TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.