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What's next for London's Poverty Profile?

Author: Manny Hothi, Chief Executive, Trust for London

Two weeks ago, we launched London’s Poverty Profile 2020. It wasn’t the launch we had planned.

Before the pandemic, we were mostly preoccupied with how the new government might tackle poverty, particularly whether their intention to ‘level up the country’ might mean that London’s poorest were forgotten. This is how the data in London’s Poverty Profile would have been framed.

I’ve heard some say that the ‘levelling up’ agenda will return with a vengeance once we are through the crisis, others have suggested it is an agenda that is impossible to fund given the current scale of spending. Politics after COVID-19 is anyone’s guess, but I do think it is safe to say that poverty and inequality will figure prominently.

We thought that the data in London’s Poverty Profile would help make the case for London as it looked set to be overlooked by government. Instead, it has become the baseline from which we measure the impact of COVID-19 on poverty and inequality in the city so that, as we emerge from the crisis, we can understand the key issues and work to address them.

Thankfully our partners, WPI Economics, have created the Profile in a way that enables us to update the data much more frequently.

If you look through our indicators, almost all could be affected by the current crisis.

This means the next few months will be focused on ensuring that when public agencies release data it is incorporated into our website.

One of the most popular features of London’s Poverty Profile was the ranking of local authorities against the different indicators. We know that most people like rankings (some local authorities didn’t!), but we made the difficult decision to remove them for now. This is because we want to come up with a better system than before, where we ranked councils from 1 to 32. Instead, we want to allow boroughs to compare themselves to other boroughs that are similar in nature, or those that they neighbour. We feel like adding more context to comparisons will ultimately be more useful to our users. You can still view stats on each borough separately here.

We’ve partnered with the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) at UCL to bring more sophisticated maps to London’s Poverty Profile. Some of these are now included, such as this fascinating map that uses the Index of Multiple Deprivation to show the most and least deprived areas ranked across London, as opposed to the whole of England which is what we normally see. Expect more of these types of maps being added throughout the year.

But we have barely scratched the surface of what we can do with experimental data sources. The core of the Profile will always be highly robust government and survey data, but there is lots of other types of data that can give us insight into poverty and inequality. Working with CDRC, we plan on exploring one issue in particular: gentrification. This thorny issue is much more complex than you might imagine. We want to gain a better understanding of how London’s neighbourhoods are changing, who is moving and who might be benefitting.

We also want to hear from those that use the data to make the case for change - campaigners, policy-makers, funders, journalists and researchers - to understand what is working for you and what you would like to see more of.

If there are things you would like to see from London’s Poverty Profile, please do drop me an email and we will see if it can be incorporated.

Explore London's Poverty Profile