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People and places in London most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its social and economic consequences

Author: New Policy Institute

This report from New Policy Institute and funded by Trust for London identifies groups of Londoners at higher risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on, experiencing harm to health and wellbeing during lockdown, or experiencing harm as lockdown and the emergency measures introduced to alleviate it, are lifted.

Besides COVID-19, it looks at impacts on employment, income and housing as well as highlighting groups with long term support needs. Built around a set of statistical indicators, the report offers a picture of the scale and pattern of vulnerability across the boroughs as well as a resource for those who wish to examine this in more depth.

  • Analysis of data from PHE shows that over 65s were much more at risk of dying (March to July) following a positive test for COVID-19, regardless of ethnicity, gender or local area deprivation. By contrast, ethnicity, gender and deprivation had a significant impact on this risk for those under 65. Both policy and research should consider the two age groups separately.
  • Analysis of occupational risks of generic infection reveal marked differences by ethnicity and gender. While the highest-risk occupations are mainly in health or care, others including teaching, waiting and driving are among the largest of the high-risk occupations.
  • Statistical links at the borough level between housing conditions and COVID- 19 fatalities suggest that living conditions constrained by housing should be suspected of contributing to the infection risk. These include overcrowding in general as well as households shared by more than one generation of adults.
  • As the furlough scheme comes to an end, analysis of employment data shows some boroughs have a high proportion of residents working in sectors which furloughed more than half of employees, including hotels and restaurants, retail, construction and recreation, arts and entertainment and the third sector.
  • Analysis of Universal Credit and housing data shows a high number of private tenants now claiming the benefit as well as a growing number of owners doing so too. In this situation, a sizeable minority of claimants in some boroughs must find money from other sources in order fully to meet their housing costs.
  • The economic and housing indicators in this report show similar patterns across the boroughs, with several consistently showing up as being at high risk. These boroughs tend to be clustered, in the east and north-east (an arc from Barking and Dagenham to Enfield) and in the west (Hounslow, Ealing and Brent).

The report concludes that four groups should now be regarded as vulnerable, namely those: working in occupations at high risk of infection; living in overcrowded homes; working in sectors at high risk of substantial job loss; newly claiming UC and either renting in the private sector or buying their home with a mortgage.

These are in addition to long-standing vulnerable groups of children and adults who new or changed needs since the pandemic began may not have been recognised, even as some of their rights to, and resources for the provision of, support may have been reduced.

People and places in London most vulnerable to Covid-19 report cover

20 October 2020

People and places in London most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its social and economic consequences