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Living standards

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The Living Standards theme focuses most heavily on poverty, demonstrating how hard it is for Londoners to translate their earnings, benefits and assets into wellbeing. It also looks at wider indicators of living standards, including life expectancy and health.

This page brings together a series of maps using data from our London borough comparison tile.

Boroughs have been labelled higher, lower, or mid (average) according to threshold values of one standard deviation above or below the mean of all the borough values.

Change in hourly gross earnings by income decile (2017-2019)

In both London and the rest of England, growth in hourly earnings between 2017 and 2019 was fastest for the bottom 10% of jobs; increasing by 4.6% in the capital and 5% in the rest of England. This rise was likely driven by the increase in the minimum and living wages. The National Living Wage (paid to workers over 25) increased from £7.50 an hour in 2017/18 to £8.21 an hour in 2019. 

In London, weekly and annual earnings rose fastest for the highest 10% of jobs. This is particularly true for annual pay (which includes bonuses) which rose by 4% in the two years to 2019 for the top 10%, compared to 1.1% for the bottom 10% and only 0.1% for the 4th decile.

The figures presented here are adjusted for inflation, meaning that for all deciles in both London and the rest of England, earnings increased at least as fast as the cost of living. This …

Proportion of children in poverty before and after housing costs by London borough (2021/22)

Children in poverty by London borough, before and after housing costs

E-food Desert Index (2020)

The E-food Desert Index (EFDI) is a composite index which measures accessibility to groceries, recently co-published by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) in conjunction with Dr Andy Newing at the University of Leeds. The index looks at:

  • Proximity and density of grocery retail stores
  • Transport time and distance
  • Public transport accessibility
  • Demographic characteristics of neighbourhoods which affect food access (car availability, income poverty)
  • Online grocery retailer availability and propensity for online shopping.

The index and map identify a new driver of inequalities in access to groceries - 'e-food deserts' - which are remoter parts of the capital that suffer comparatively poor access to both physical retail and limited provision of online grocery services.

The map shown here is excerpted for London, based on the wider index for Eng…

English Index of Multiple Deprivation (rebased for London) (2019)

Deprivation varies significantly across London, and, to truly understand the diversity of deprivation across the city, it is useful to adapt national indices to compare within just London itself, excluding variations outside the capital. Mapped here are the deciles of neighbourhoods in London as defined by the Index of Multiple Deprivation, which integrates deprivation domains relating to income, employment, crime, living environment, education, health and barriers to housing and services, in various proportions, to produce an overall index.

Every neighbourhood in England has been given a deprivation score based on various measures which form each domain above, integrated together in various proportions to produce a single value. They are then ranked for England. We have taken these rankings and rebased, by excluding all non-London areas …

Gentrification Index for Small Areas in London (2010-16)

Key findings

  • Clear inner vs outer London divide with lower levels throughout most of the outer boroughs, particularly Havering, Bexley and Bromley (with the exception of Kingston upon Thames)
  • Highest levels of gentrification seen along riverside developments in the Lea Valley and the Thames Estuary
  • Clear north/south split in Waltham Forest and east/west split in Haringey

The Runnymede Trust and CLASS recently published a report funded by us - Pushed to the Margins: A Quantitative Analysis of Gentrification in London in the 2010s. The report presents a small area analysis of social/population changes related to the phenomenon of 'gentrification' that has impacted various areas in London, some very significantly, in the last decade.

Simply put, gentrification is where an area rapidly changes its population, caused by an influx of wealthier hous…

Indexed gross weekly pay in London and England (2002-2022)

This indicator shows how Londoners’ weekly pay (before tax, adjusted for inflation) has changed over time, using 2008 as a baseline. 

On average, Londoners were paid 8% less in 2022 than they were in 2008. Londoners at the 10th percentile of weekly pay (those with incomes lower than 90% of Londoners) were paid 9% less - and those at the 90th percentile (those with incomes higher than 90% of Londoners) were paid 13% less.

This is starkly different to the rest of England. On average, workers in the rest of England were paid 3% less in 2022 than in 2008 - while those at the 10th percentile in the rest of England were paid 11% more in 2022.

London households affected by the benefit cap (2014 Q3-2022 Q3)

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most working-age people can receive. In London the limit is £23,000 per year or £15,410 for single adults with no children. This was reduced in 2015. The benefit cap is applied by either reducing Universal Credit or Housing Benefit (for those not claiming Universal Credit).

The benefit cap reduced the benefits of 21,381 more London families in August 2022 compared to August 2019 (pre-pandemic). This means that the number of families with their benefits capped in London has more than doubled in the last three years.

A possible explanation for this unprecedented increase could be the influx of new households on Universal Credit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the additional £20 pound per week for those on Universal Credit could place households in a position where their…

London boroughs' median income deprivation ranking relative to London and rest of England (2019)

The typical neighbourhood in 24 (of 32) London boroughs is more income-deprived than the typical neighbourhood in England.

This indicator assesses this by comparing the average (median) income deprivation in each borough to the average income deprivation of London overall and the rest of England through a relative deprivation ratio. Boroughs close to the red line have similar average income deprivation levels to the comparison. If they are to the left of the line, they are less income-deprived and if they are to the right of the line they are more income-deprived. 

Tower Hamlets is on average the most income-deprived in comparison to the other London boroughs. The average neighbourhood in the borough is 2.03 times more income-deprived than the average in London, and 2.67 times more income-deprived than the average in the rest of England. O…

Proportion of total net and gross income before housing costs held in each decile (2021/22)

Those in the bottom five deciles of the net income distribution in London together take home less than a quarter (23.9%) of London’s total net income before housing costs. Those in the top decile of London households alone take home 32.2% of total net income.

The impact of redistribution through the tax and benefit system can also be seen in this chart. The top decile holds a lower proportion of total net income (32.2%) i.e. after tax, than it does of gross income (37%) i.e. before tax. In contrast, the bottom decile of London households holds 1.5% of total gross income but 1.9% of total net income. This reflects the higher tax rates paid on incomes in the for the 9th and 10th deciles, and at the other end the effect of the personal tax allowance threshold which means the income earned up to a given point is not taxed at all.

Compared to L…

Net income inequality before housing costs (1996/97 - 2021/22)

This indicator shows one way of measuring income inequality, the 90:10 net income ratio. This compares the net income (before housing costs) of those at the 90th net income percentile with those at the 10th net income percentile. A higher figure means that inequality is higher.

In 2021/22 those in the 90th net income percentile in London took home 10 times more than those in the 10th net income percentile (a 90:10 net income ratio of 10.5). In the rest of England the 90:10 net income ratio is 5.2.

Net income inequality has risen gradually in London over the last 20 years, with a small drop in the most recent year (2021/22). In contrast, it has been relatively stable in England overall.

This means that the gap between the rich and poor in London and the rest of England is much larger today than it was two decades ago. In 1996/97, the gap bet…

Material deprivation of children in London (2021/22)

Material deprivation is based on a weighted score of responses to questions about what material things - such as a warm winter coat or a safe outdoors space to play - children go without. 

In 2021/22, almost a third (32%) of children living in households in poverty in London are classed as materially deprived (down from 45% in 2018/19), compared with 37% in the rest of England (unchanged). For children who do not live in households in poverty, the proportion of materially deprived children is 12% in London and 10% in the rest of England. 

Almost a half (46%) of children in London in poverty went without a holiday away from home for at least one week a year with their family, the highest rate for any item or activity.

80:20 hourly wage ratio by London borough (2012, 2019 and 2022)

There are many ways of measuring pay inequality. This indicator considers the 80:20 hourly wage ratio, which shows how much greater hourly pay is for those at the 80th percentile of the hourly pay distribution than for those at the 20th percentile. The larger the ratio, the more unequal hourly pay.

Based on this measure, pay inequality is significantly higher in London than in England. In London, the 20% highest paid earn 2.5x more per hour than the 20% lowest paid. In England, the figure is 1.85.

Since before the pandemic, wage inequality has decreased in every borough where data are available, except for three: Merton, Wandsworth and Hackney. Every borough has a higher level of pay inequality than the England average.

Poverty rates in London (by small area) (2014)

This map shows poverty rate estimates after housing costs for areas known as middle-layer super output areas (MSOAs). These are relatively small areas with an average population of 7,200. These statistics are experimental and so should be considered as indicative rather than definitive, but reveal interesting trends. 

Overall the map shows the large disparity of poverty outcomes both across and within London boroughs. The most concentrated areas of high poverty are in areas such as Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, and the north east of London. There are also noticeable pockets of high poverty rates in areas in west London, such as in Brent and the north ends of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.

Only six MSOAs have a poverty rate below 10% in London, all in Outer London boroughs, whilst nine MSOAs have a poverty rate above 45%. Refle…

Proportion of Londoners in poverty in families with and without disabled persons (2011/12, 2016/17, and 2021/22)

Londoners who live in families that include a disabled person are more likely to be in poverty than those living in families that do not include a disabled person. In the 3 years to 2021/22, 33% of families that included a disabled person were in poverty compared to 22% of those without a disabled household member. 

This gap has not changed in a meaningful way over the decade examined here.

Proportion of households in poverty by family type (2021/22)

Poverty rates are highest among families made up of single adults with children. In both London and the rest of England 45% of these family types are counted as being in poverty. Other single person household types follow next, with couple households showing lower poverty rates. Couples without children are the least likely to be in poverty - 14% of this family type were in poverty in London for 2021/22.

If we look at the proportion of all families in poverty in London, those with children make up more than half (55%) with single persons without children making up nearly a third (32%).

Poverty for children, pensioners and working-age adults (2011/2012 and 2021/2022)

Children, working age adults and pensioners all have higher rates of poverty in London than in the rest of England. Of the three age groups, children have the highest poverty rates, with 33% of children in London in poverty in 2021/22, compared to 22% of working-age adults and 23% of pensioners. 

In London, poverty rates for children and working-age adults fell between 2011/12 and 2021/22. In the rest of England, poverty rates for children went up in the same time period, and for working-age adults stayed the same.

In both London and the rest of England, the proportion of pensioners in poverty went up in this time period.

Proportions of people in poverty before and after housing costs (2021/22)

The difference between poverty rates before and after housing costs shows how much of an impact housing costs have on poverty.

In London, poverty rates almost double when housing costs are accounted for (increasing the poverty rate from 14% to 25%). In the rest of England, the difference is much smaller (increasing poverty rates from 18% to 22%). This shows that, compared to the rest of England, high housing costs are a much more significant driver of poverty in London.

Put another way, this means that accounting for the high housing costs in the capital leads to almost one million more people being judged to be in poverty.

Proportion of Londoners in poverty after housing costs by age band (2021/22)

Poverty rates after housing costs were highest among children and young people in 2021/22, in both London and the rest of England.

In London:

  • 160,000 children aged four and under live in households in poverty
  • Almost a third (34%) of children aged 5-9 are in households in poverty
  • Over a third of 10-19 year olds live in households that are in poverty (38% of those aged 10-14 and 34% of those aged 15-19).

In contrast, 17% of Londoners aged 30-34 live in households that are in poverty - the lowest rate for any age group.

Poverty rates in London are higher than those in the rest of England for people of most age groups, except for children aged 0-4 and adults aged 30-39 and 60-64.

The impacts of housing costs on poverty in the capital can again be seen by comparing these findings to those from measures of poverty before housing costs (BHC). Poverty …

Households are considered to be below the UK poverty line if their income is below 60% of the median household income after housing costs for that year.

Proportion of people in poverty over time after housing costs (1996/97 - 2021/22)

A quarter (25%) of Londoners live in households that are in poverty (after housing costs - AHC). This means that 2.2 million Londoners lived in poverty in 2021/22. The poverty rate (AHC) in London is 3 percentage points higher than in the rest of England. This is the lowest the poverty rate (AHC) for London since the current measure began in 1996/97.

The proportion of households in poverty after housing costs (AHC) was relatively stable between 1996/97 and 2019/20:

  • In London, poverty rates varied between 27% and 30%; and
  • in the rest of England, poverty rates varied between 20% and 24%.

Poverty rates (AHC) in London have been higher than in the rest of England for at least the last two decades.

In contrast, poverty rates before housing costs (BHC) over the last 20 years have been more similar between London and the rest of England - never more…

Poverty rates by demographic characteristics in London (2021/22)

Poverty rates vary significantly across different demographic groups in London. The highest poverty rates are experienced by workless families (52%) and households comprised of single people with children (47%). Black and minority ethnic groups are far more likely to be in poverty (33%) than white people (18%), and single pensioners also see a higher than average poverty rate at 30%.

Generally speaking all the groups included here have seen declining poverty rates since 2018/19 (the peak of the overall time series) apart from single pensioners, couples without children and workless families.

Poverty rates by London borough (2021/22)

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The poverty rates for London boroughs presented here pool together five years of survey data for all financial years between 2016/17 and 2021/22, excluding 2020/21 as data quality in this year was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of multiple years of data means that the full impacts of the pandemic will not be seen in these results.

Even when pulling together six survey years, the sample sizes for individual boroughs remain uneven and, for some boroughs, small. This means that although we present our best estimates of poverty for each borough, there is some uncertainty around the precise estimates. For the technical- minded, the downloadable data includes the 95% confidence…

Poverty rates by region (2021/22)

After housing costs are taken into consideration, the poverty rate in London is 25%, the joint second highest of the English regions with North East of England. The region with the highest rate in 2021/22 was the West Midlands at 27%.

The proportion of people living in poverty in London almost doubles when housing costs are taken into account (rising from 14% before housing costs to 25% after housing costs). This gap between before and after housing costs measures of poverty is much larger in the capital than any in other English region.

Housing costs as proportion of net income for households in poverty (2019/20)

Households living in poverty are spending a significantly larger proportion of their net income on housing costs than households not living in poverty. This is true both in London and in the rest of England. 

London households in poverty are estimated, on average, to spend 54% of their total net income on housing costs. In comparison, those living in households which are not in poverty spend just 13% on average. The trend is similar in the rest of England with households in poverty spending 36% of their income on housing compared to 9% for those not in poverty, but the gap is much smaller than in the capital. Compared to the rest of England, both types of households in London are spending proportionally more of their net income on housing costs.

Deprivation Rank Changes for London Leavers: Recent (2019)

What we learn from this data:

  • Two decades ago, for the vast majority of Londoners a move out of the capital meant a better quality of life economically.
  • Today the two-tier nature of London means the picture is far more nuanced. The residents of the poorest boroughs no longer see such stark decreases in deprivation when they move outwards, and those in the outer London boroughs may actually worsen their quality of lives by leaving the city.

The dataset

New analysis of a dataset on 'Residential Mobility and Deprivation' produced by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) reveals what happens to people’s quality of life as measured by levels of neighbourhood deprivation when moving out of Greater London.

The analysis of people moving out of London in 1999 shows a striking pattern - an almost universal decrease in deprivation (with a correspondi…

Proportion of total wealth held in each decile (2018-20)

Wealth is very unequally distributed. In London, those in the top wealth decile (i.e. the 10% of people with the highest wealth) hold 44.3% of London’s total net wealth. Those in the bottom decile (the bottom 10%) hold none of London’s total net wealth.

In the rest of England a similar divide is found, where the top decile holds 42.8% of total net wealth and the bottom holds just 0.1% of total net wealth which is barely visible on the chart.

Total net wealth is an estimate of the value of wealth held by all private households, including net property, net financial, private pension and physical wealth.

London poverty rates before and after housing costs (1996/97 - 2021/22)

The proportion of people living in poverty in London almost doubles when housing costs are taken into account rising from 14% to 25%).

This gap between before and after housing costs measures of poverty is much larger in the capital than in the rest of the country. In 2021/22 the gap was 11 percentage points in London, compared to 4 percentage points in the rest of England. This demonstrates the fact that the cost of housing is a much larger driver of poverty in London than in the rest of the country.

The impact of housing costs on poverty in London has also increased since the early 2000s. For example, in 2005/06 the gap between before and after housing costs measures of poverty in capital was 9 percentage points, whilst between 2010/11 and 2016/17 the gap has been between 12 and 14 percentage points.

Proportion of population within the bottom and top 10% of the income distribution after housing costs by region (2021/22)

This indicator shows the population proportion in each region in England that is in the bottom and top deciles of the overall income distribution after housing costs in 2021/22.

It shows that, in comparison with all other regions in England, London and the West Midlands have the largest proportion of people in the bottom decile (13%). The East of England has the lowest proportion, with just 7% in the bottom income decile.

17% of Londoners are in the top decile of income distribution, the highest of any region in England. The regions surrounding London, the South East and East of England, have the next highest proportion of residents in the top income decile and 15% and 12% respectively.