Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 15 January 2018

Children are more likely to be in poverty than adults in London, with child poverty at 37%, compared to 24% for working age adults, and 19% for pensioners. This figure has dropped slightly over the last decade. Nearly 5 out of every 6 homeless households living in temporary accommodation contain or expect children, reflecting the impact of high housing costs in the private rented sector on young Londoners.

More positively for the capital, London’s children are outperforming children in the Rest of England regardless of their ethnicity, whether or not English is their first language, and whether or not they have a disability. 60% of children in London achieved 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, compared to 53% across the rest of England. The attainment gap, which measures the difference in performance between disadvantaged children and their wider peer group, is much lower in London than in the Rest of England as well. 

Children: Indicators

Families affected by the overall benefit cap

This graph shows the number of households affected by the benefit cap,  grouped by the weekly cut in their support. The cap was introduced in 2013, based on an annual equivalent of £26,000 a year, with a lower level for single adults without children (£18,200). In 2016, it was reduced further (to £23,000 or £15,410), and by a greater amount outside of Greater London.

In London, in 2017, the number of families affected was 15,300 compared with 8,900 in February 2016, an increase of 6,400.

In 2017, the largest single groups of those affected were families losing up to £25 per week and those losing between £25 and £50 a week, both at around 3,900.

Compared with 2016, the number in each category of cut has increased with the lowering of the value of the cap. In February 2016, there were 890 families losing more than £150 a week, rising to 1,4…

GCSE attainment over time

The proportion of students lacking 5+ A* – C GCSEs at the end of Key Stage 4 (age 16) in London and England has changed over the decade from 2005/06 through 2015/16. 

Educational attainment across England has improved markedly over the past decade. This graph shows that educational attainment improved more in London (particularly Inner London) than in England as a whole between 2005/06 and 2012/13. Over the past three years, improvements in educational attainment in both London and England as a whole appear to have stalled. 

In 2015/16, 39% of pupils in Outer London did not attain this level and 40% in Inner London did not. The proportion not attaining this level in England as a whole was significantly higher – 47%.

A decade ago, GCSE attainment in Inner London was worse than in England as a whole. However, GCSE attainment in Inner London i…

10.2 The Disadvantage Attainment Gap in London boroughs

For the school year 2015/16, the difference between the proportion of disadvantaged pupils and the proportion all other pupils attaining an A* – C in maths and English GCSE at 16 (the attainment gap) in Inner London is almost half (16 percentage points) of the attainment gap in the rest of England (30 percentage points). Outer London has a larger attainment gap than Inner London (23 percentage points) but is still significantly smaller than the rest of England.

The shrinking of the attainment gap in London is a key factor in the ‘London effect’ whereby London pupils outperform their counterparts in the rest of England.

The size of a borough’s attainment gap is generally driven by poor attainment by disadvantaged pupils rather than high attainment by non-disadvantaged pupils.* Most of the boroughs with the biggest attainment gaps between di…

10.3 Demographics and attainment gaps

This graph shows that pupils in London of every ethnicity have better attainment than their counterparts in the rest of England, as do pupils who speak English as a second language, and pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

At 39%, Black pupils have the highest proportion of pupils not achieving A* – C in English and maths GCSEs in London, followed by White and Mixed (34%) ethnicities. 

Pupils who do not speak English as their first language have similar attainment as those who do. This is particularly important to attainment levels in London, where 40% (and 51% in Inner London) of pupils do not speak English as a first language. In the rest of England, only 10% of pupils do not speak English as a first language.

In 22 London boroughs, pupils who do not speak English as a first language are more likely to achieve GCSEs than those who…

Temporary accommodation over time

The number of households in temporary accommodation in London in the first quarter of 2017 was 54,000, compared with 23,000 across the rest of England. This marks a sixth consecutive increase at the same point in previous years, with 2,000 more households in temporary accommodation than a year previously, and a 48% increase on five years previously.

The number of households in temporary accommodation follows a similar pattern to the number of households accepted as homeless, with an increase in the mid-2000s to a peak of 63,000 in 2006, followed by falls to 2011 and subsequent rises. There was a slight lag between peak numbers of homeless acceptances and numbers in temporary accommodation. This is probably due to the length of time many households remain in temporary accommodation; at the beginning of 2017, 58% had been in temporary accom…

Poverty by age

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This looks at poverty rates for children, working-age adults, and pensioners in 2003–04 to 2005–06 and in 2013–14 to 2015–16. It uses poverty measured after housing costs (AHC). It splits this by Inner and Outer London, London overall, and the rest of England.

In the three years to 2015–16, 37% of children, 24% of working-age adults, and 19% of pensioners were in poverty in London. In numbers this is 700,000 children, 1.4 million working-age adults, and 200,000 pensioners in poverty.

Compared with a decade earlier, the proportions of both children and pensioners in poverty are lower. The child poverty rate has fallen from 41% to 37%, and the pensioner poverty rate has fallen from 21% to 19%. Despite this, because of population growth, there are now around 90,000 more children in poverty and an unchanged number of pensioners. The proportion…

Work and poverty

This graph looks at poverty by age and family work status. In the three years to 2015/16, the largest single group in poverty were adults in working families, at 830,000, followed by 540,000 adults in workless families in poverty. There were also 480,000 children in working families in poverty, compared with 220,000 in workless families.

These numbers have changed dramatically over time. Compared with a decade earlier, there are 270,000 more adults in working families in poverty, and 180,000 more children in working families in poverty. Their workless counterparts have fallen by 20,000 and 110,000 respectively. Some changes were more drastic in the preceding decade: the number of pensioners and adults in workless families in poverty fell considerably to 2005–06, but has fallen less since. If we look over just the last five years, there ar…

Children in poverty by housing tenure

This graph looks at which housing tenure children in poverty live in. Over the three years to 2015/16, there were around 300,000 children living in poverty in the private rented sector, and 290,000 living in poverty in the social rented sector. There were far fewer living in owner-occupation, at 70,000.

However, the numbers of children in poverty in each of these tenures have followed very different trajectories. The number of children in poverty in the social rented sector fell to 240,000 in 2009–12, but has since increased again. In contrast, there were fewer than 100,000 children in poverty in private rented accommodation in the late 1990s. Since 2004–07, this number has roughly tripled.

The number of children in poverty in owner-occupation has been falling in recent years, by around 40,000 since 2011–14.

Expressed as a proportion, over …

Child material deprivation

Figure 3.10 looks at the proportion of children in households in poverty unable to afford each item on the basis of cost. We are interested in this because, although the basic income poverty measure can account for housing costs, other costs that are higher in London do not feature.

One way of rectifying this problem is by looking at ‘material deprivation’, which is the state of being unable to afford several basic items as a result of cost. A household is considered materially deprived if it has a ‘score’ above a certain value. Lacking an item contributes to the score, and the more common a lacked item, the higher the score attached to it. Overall, 530,000 or 28% of all children in London were materially deprived. This rate has fallen from 32%, the figure both five years earlier and a year earlier. In contrast, 20% of children in the res…

Infant mortality over time

Infant mortality* in London and England from 2001–03 to 2013– 15. Infant mortality is a sensitive measure of the overall health of a population. It is an indicator of the association between the causes of infant mortality and other factors which influence the health of a population, such as economic development, living conditions, well-being and rates of illness.** In 2013–15 infant mortality in London was 3.4 per 1,000 live births, which was lower than the England average of 3.9. 

The infant mortality rate has come down since 2001–03 in both England and London. However, in 2001–03, London had a marginally higher rate than England (5.7 to 5.4), and Inner London (6.3) had a much higher rate than England. Outer London was lower at 5.2. 

In the course of just over a decade, there has been a large fall in infant mortality rates in both London …

Infant Mortality by borough

The boroughs with the highest infant mortality rates, of above 4 per 1,000 live births, are found in Inner East and South East London, plus Barking & Dagenham and Greenwich. This is higher than the London and the England rates. 

These boroughs have not seen much improvement. With the exception of Southwark and Greenwich, none of these boroughs were in the bottom 10 for infant mortality a decade ago. However, because they saw no improvements whereas other boroughs have, they have dropped down the rankings. Southwark has improved from 7 per 1,000 live births in 2003–05 to 4 per 1,000, a large improvement. 

Hackney had the highest infant mortality rate at 5.4 per 1,000 live births. This is more than twice the rate than in the nine boroughs with the lowest infant mortality rate. Havering’s rate is 2 per 1,000 live births and Waltham Forest…

Child Obesity 2

The proportion of Year 6 students (age 11) in each borough who are counted as obese in 2015/16. In London as a whole, 23% of Year 6 students were obese. This is a higher rate than in England, where 20% of Year 6 students were obese. Both London and England experienced a slight increase over the last five years (one percentage point). Across the boroughs, the change has been uneven. Eight have seen an improvement with the level of childhood obesity falling, while in eight boroughs there has been an increase of more than 3%. 

In 2015/16 there were nine boroughs – Westminster, Enfield, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Newham, Greenwich and Barking & Dagenham where at least a quarter of children in Year 6 were obese. In 2010/11 there were only six boroughs where at least a quarter of children were obese. 

Barking & Da…

Age profile of London population

London’s population by age is structured differently to the rest of England’s. London has a much higher proportion of its population in the age range 25–34 than the rest of England. This is particularly the case for Inner London for which it makes up 24% of the population. It makes up 16% of the Outer London population and 13% of the rest of England population. London also has a higher proportion of children under the age of 5 than the rest of England.

London has a lower proportion of people in all age groups from 45 and above in comparison to the rest of England. The difference starts small at just half a percentage point in the 45 – 49 age group but then increases in each age group to a peak of 2.3 percentage points for 65 – 69 year olds. It then slowly decreases again to just 1 percentage point for those aged…

Child poverty rates by borough

This graph gives estimates of the percentage of children living under the poverty line in each borough between October and December 2015. Tower Hamlets has by far the highest rate of child poverty – 6 percentage points above the second highest borough, which is Islington. On the other end of the scale, Richmond has the lowest rate of child poverty in London, 6.5% below the next lowest Borough – Kingston (not counting the City of London).

Child poverty is significantly higher in Inner London than Outer London. The 6 boroughs with the highest rates of child poverty (and 9 of the top 10) are all in Inner London. All 9 of the boroughs with the lowest child poverty rates are in Outer London (excluding the City of London). Barking & Dagenham is the Outer London borough with the most children living below the poverty line. Wandsworth is th…