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No respite - the stark reality of two years of covid and a cost-of-living crisis

Author: Manny Hothi, Chief Executive, Trust for London

River Thames illustration

As we roll from one crisis to the next, the eighth annual London’s Poverty Profile report makes for stark reading.

The pandemic has taken its toll on us all but the impact on the most disadvantaged communities has been harshest. A mortality rate that is 27% higher in the most deprived areas is the heart-breaking embodiment of this city’s inequality.

There is no respite. The impact of inflation is sparing no one and, like the pandemic, those on the lowest incomes are faring the worst. The report shows that, in the first few months of 2022, increases in the price of food, gas and electricity were being felt by many. This will only get worse as the year progresses. With wages unable to keep pace, those with savings will see them eroded and those without will likely get into more debt.

Figure 8: Self-reported reasons for increases in cost of living: January - February 2022 (January - February 2022)

The report highlights that 15% of households experienced fuel poverty in 2019. For those who are long-term sick or disabled, the figure was 44%. These numbers will surely have sky-rocketed, and we can anticipate a winter where the plight of these households rightly takes centre stage.

Our sector is naturally optimistic. We believe that change is possible - that the city can be a better place for people on low incomes. But the data in this report, combined with the evidence of what lays ahead of us, will stretch this optimism to the very max.

It demonstrates the level of overhaul that is needed – more employers to pay the Living Wage, an adequately funded social security system, and more support to prevent fuel poverty in the coming Winter. As hard as it is we need to keep hold of some of that optimism to keep calling for change, to make a difference right now to the lives of low-income Londoners.

Our aim is to provide you with reliable, timely data on poverty and inequality in London, and there is more we will be doing this autumn, with two big updates.

In September we will launch a new suite of improvements to our borough data. This will include the ability to compare indicators for boroughs against other, similar boroughs. We will have downloadable borough factsheets with lots of the relevant data in one place. And we will have updated headline poverty rates for each borough for the first time since 2013/14.

In October we will launch a new Cost of Living Index for London, developed by our partners WPI Economics. The Index will be updated monthly to track the impact of inflation on different household types in London.

27 July