Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 19 January 2018

Official statistics measure poverty by household rather than for individuals.  So it isn't currently possible to put a figure on the poverty rate for women.  However, there are indicators in this section on work, low pay, health and homelessness. Because around 90% of single parent families are headed by women, we have included data on these family types in this section.

270,000 Londoners were unemployed in 2016, and it is almost evenly split between women and men for the first time. However, women remain much less likely than men to be in paid work, usually because of caring responsibilities. This is especially pronounced for some London women who were born overseas particularly in Afghanistan or Somalia. 

Women in work remain more likely to be low-paid than men. In 2016 the biggest group among the low paid were female part-time employees at 220,000. Overall, 55% of low-paid jobs are done by women. There was an 87% increase in the number of full-time, low-paid women in London between 2011 and 2016 (compared to an overall increase in low-paid jobs of 52%). 

Only 15% of rough sleepers are women. This partly reflects the fact that homeless women with children are usually regarded as in "priority need" by local authorities who accept their responsibility to house them. Single parent families are particularly likely to be living in temporary accommodation sourced by local authorities.

Women: 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…

Unemployed adults in London over time

This graph shows the number of unemployed men and women in London from 1992 to 2016. In 2016, there were 270,000 unemployed people in London, the lowest level since the start of the recession in 2008/09. The figure is down around 27,000 on the previous year.

The recent peak in the number of unemployed men was 230,000 in 2011, although the high point in this data series was more than 300,000 in 1993. At 136,000 in 2016, the number of unemployed men is at its lowest in this series.

There were 134,000 unemployed women in London in 2016, down from a peak of 190,000 in 2011. Unemployment levels for women have been fairly close to the numbers for men, something that is historically unusual in London. This is largely due to increased economic activity for women: previously they were more likely than men to be not working and not seeking work or a…

Worklessness by country of birth

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This graph shows the proportion of working-age men and women who are workless (unemployed or economically inactive) by their country of birth. The countries shown are the ones with the largest populations in London. In all countries of birth apart from Ireland, including the UK, female workless rates are higher than for males. The differences between genders are explained by levels of economic inactivity rather than unemployment, which suggests that caring responsibilities are a reason for this disparity. There is, however, a large difference between countries. The female workless rate among those born in Afghanistan is 62 percentage points higher than for men, while it is 3 percentage points higher for those born in Jamaica, Germany and Italy. For those born in Ireland the female workless rate is lower than the male worklessness rate by…

Rough sleeping over time

8,100 people were seen sleeping rough at least once by a homeless outreach team in London in 2016/17, the same number as the previous year. The number of people sleeping rough in London has increased dramatically since 2007, and in 2015/16 was almost three times the number a decade ago in 2006. 

Over the period where rough sleeping has risen, the number of new rough sleepers has also risen, from 1,600 in 2007 to 5,100 in 2016/17. There is a high turnover, with 77% of rough sleepers seen sleeping out only once or twice. 

Only 15% of people recorded as sleeping rough in London in 2016/17 were women. However, many homeless women are ‘hidden homeless’ (for example they are sofa surfing or being sexually exploited in exchange for shelter) in order to avoid sleeping on the streets (where they also face a very high risk of sexual violence and exp…

Low-paid men and women

The number of low-paid jobs by whether they are part-time or full-time and by whether they are held by men or women. In 2016 the biggest group among the low paid were female part-time employees at 220,000, or 31% of the total. Male full-time jobs were the next biggest group (200,000, 27%), followed by female full-time jobs (170,000, 24%). The smallest group with just under a fifth of the total (130,000, 18%) were male part-timers. 

The number of low-paid jobs increased over this period by 250,000. There was an increase in the number of low-paid jobs across full- and part-time work for both sexes. The increase in low-paid jobs has not been evenly distributed across the groups shown in the graph, however. The overall increase in the number of low-paid workers between 2011 and 2016 was 52%. For full-time men the increase was 61%, for full-ti…

Low income thresholds

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The poverty measure typically used in this report is being in a household with an income below 60% of the median. This is adjusted for household size and is after taxes such as income tax and Council Tax. The table below puts these poverty thresholds in the context of similar concepts. For example, a working-age couple with an income below £288 a week before removing housing costs (or £248 after) is considered to be in poverty. On an annual basis, this is equivalent to around £14,980 for this family type before housing costs (BHC), or £12,890 after housing costs (AHC). 

However, when members of the public are asked what income is needed to have a socially acceptable minimum standard of living (MIS – Minimum Income Standard – a different concept to poverty), the values are quite a bit higher: £351 a week in Inner Lond…

Expected years without limiting conditions at birth (women)

The number of years women can expect to live at birth without a limiting long-term condition or illness for the years 2013–2015. The life expectancy without a long-term condition dataset is created using a self-reported measure of disability. It asks if the respondent has a long-term illness or disability and if this limits their daily activities. This means, for example, that a person who was born deaf but who did not feel that this limited their daily activities would not be included in the calculations whereas a person who became deaf and felt that this limited their daily activities would be. Health expectancies are a measure of overall population health at different geographies and give an indication of the wellbeing of society. It is important that there are differences in life expectancy but the quality of life people experience i…