London's Poverty Profile is divided into five themes:
- Living standards;
- Work, worklessness and benefits; and
- Shared opportunities.
Each one provides insights into a range of different indicators of poverty and inequality across London, drawing comparisons over time, between different boroughs and with the rest of the country.
The Housing theme shows the importance of housing in understanding poverty and inequality, in particular, comparing measures of poverty before and after housing costs. This demonstrates the significant challenge of housing affordability faced by Londoners. The theme also assesses wider measures of the extent to which housing fails to meet the needs of Londoners, including those who are homeless.
Borough Comparison: Housing
These maps show data from our London borough comparison tile.
Boroughs have been labelled higher, lower, or mid (average) according to threshold values of one standard deviation above or below the mean of all the borough values.
Child poverty and type of housing
Number of children in poverty by housing tenure in London (2004/05 - 2019/20)
Since 2005/06, the number of children in poverty in London who live in private rented accommodation has increased almost threefold to its current level of 301,000 in 2019/20. The proportion of children in poverty in London who live in the private rented sector has increased from 17% in 2005/06 to 39% in 2019/20.
While the number of children in poverty in this group has increased, the poverty rate within this group has slightly decreased over the years; in 2005/06 the poverty rate for children in private rented accommodation in London was 56% and in 2019/20 it was 50%.
The number of London children in poverty living in the social rented sector fell sharply between 2005/06 and 2011/12 (falling by more than 100,000). However, numbers have risen again since then and the poverty rate amongst this group is still the highest amongst all the tenur…
Number of households London boroughs owe homelessness duties to by type of duty (2003/04 - 2019/20)
The nature and scope of duties owed by local authorities to homeless households changed considerably with the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017) (HRA), which came into force in 2018. Whereas previously local authorities only had statutory duties towards households that were classed as being in “priority need” because, for example, they contained children or a pregnant woman, the HRA puts the following duties on local authorities:
- Prevention duty: Local authorities owe prevention duties to help stop households at risk of homelessness losing their accommodation.
- Relief duty: If a household is homeless, the local authority owes them a relief duty to provide some sort of accommodation.
- Main duty: The main homelessness duty to provide accomodation (which until 2018 was the only statutory duty owed to homeless households) com…
Homelessness duties outcomes
Outcomes of homelessness initial assessment per 1,000 households (2019/20)
These indicators look at three types of statutory duties that local authorities owe households at risk of or experiencing homelessness in the financial year of 2019/20:
- Local authorities owe prevention duties to help stop households at risk of homelessness losing their accommodation.
- If a household is homeless, the local authority owes them a relief duty to provide some sort of accommodation.
- The main homelessness duty to provide accomodation (which until 2018 was the only statutory duty owed to homeless households) comes into effect when the relief duty has failed and accommodation has not been secured.
As a proportion of the population, more households are owed homelessness duties by local authorities in London than in the rest of England in 2019/20.
Additionally, prevention duties are less likely to be successfully fulfilled in the cap…
Homelessness duties owed by London boroughs
Homelessness duties owed by London boroughs (2020 (Q4))
London boroughs are required by law to either provide accommodation to homeless households (the main homelessness duty), work to stop households becoming homeless (the homelessness prevention duty) or relieve homelessness when it does occur (the homelessness relief duty).
The extent and nature of homelessness duties owed by different boroughs varies significantly. Southwark was the borough that owed the most households a relief duty, at 3.99 per 1,000 compared to the London average of 1.82.
Westminster has been overtaken by Southwark as the borough that owed the most households the main homelessness duty (1.86 per 1,000 households) and Haringey was the borough owing the most prevention duties at 4.38 per 1,000 households.
Housing completions by London borough
Average annual net housing completions in London by planning authority (2015/16 - 2017/18)
On average, 29,000 net completions were added to the housing stock in London between 2014/15 and 2017/18. The vast majority (85%) were for the private market and an average of only 700 net completions were made for social rented properties.
The boroughs completing the most new homes include Tower Hamlets, Croydon and Newham. However, boroughs vary greatly in both their size and in the availability of development opportunities. Boroughs are set targets in the London Plan for how many homes they should be delivering each year and this figure gives a sense of the potential for new buildings in each borough.
Whilst the targets in the London plan are not the only measure by which to assess the pace of new building in London, with fewer than ten boroughs meeting their existing targets (set in 2016) and the city-wide target not being met, it is…
Housing tenure over time
Tenure types of London households over time (1961-2018)
The proportion of London households which are owner-occupied has increased from the 1960s. Rates of home ownership peaked at 57.2% in 1991, before stabilising between 49% and 52% in the last decade.
A similar trend is found amongst households that were social rented, which peaked in 1981 at 34.8%. In the following decades, the proportion of social rented households has slowly fallen to 22.3% in 2018.
The trend for private rented households went in the opposite direction in the 1980s until the early 2000s. Starting at 45.5% in 1961, the proportion of private rented households was its lowest point at 13.9% in 1991, after which, the proportion increased rapidly until 2011 (26.4%) and is now 25.8%.
London households in temporary accommodation
Proportion of households in temporary accomodation in London boroughs (2021 Q1)
Every borough in London has a higher proportion of households living in temporary accommodation than the average in the rest of England.
Newham has the highest rate of households in temporary accommodation (49.36 per 1,000 households). Other boroughs with high rates include Kensington and Chelsea (29.75 per 1,000 households), and Haringey (27.96 per 1,000 households). In contrast, Merton (2.46 per 1,000 households) and City of London (2.47 per 1,000 households) have some of the lowest rates.
Sometimes, local authorities will provide temporary accommodation outside of their area. This is particularly common in London, where local authorities face the twin challenges of greater demand for homelessness services and more expensive accomodation in which to house people. Bromley accommodates 74% of its households in temporary accommodation outs…
London rent as a percentage of gross pay
Rent for a one bedroom dwelling as a percentage of gross pay by London borough (April 2020 - March 2021)
In every London borough the average rent for a one-bedroom house or flat on the private market is at least 30% of median pre-tax pay in London. The average across the capital is that a one-bedroom dwelling cost the equivalent of almost half (45.1%) the gross-median pay in London.
The least affordable boroughs are Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea in the centre of London, either requiring 69.5% of the median pay to rent a one-bedroom house or flat. Outer London boroughs including Bexley, Havering and Sutton have the lowest average rents of between 32.3% and 34.1% of earnings. In England as a whole, the average one-bedroom property is less than a quarter (24%) of average earnings.
Monthly rent by sector
Monthly rent by sector in London and England (2019/20)
Rent is much more expensive in London than in the rest of England. This can be seen most acutely in the private rented sector, where the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom home in London was £1,200 in 2019/20 in the capital and £620 in the rest of the country. At £660 per month for affordable housing and £420 for social rent, non-market tenures are cheaper than the private sector. They are, however, still more expensive in London than in the rest of the country.
Private rents have increased significantly since the financial crisis in 2008, rising by 31% in London, after taking account of inflation. This is faster than the 23% rise in rents seen in the rest of England. Social rents were increasing at a similar rate until 2016, but rose more slowly than inflation between 2016 and 2019.
This data does not include most of the period of th…
Overcrowding in London households by tenure
Proportion of households in London that are overcrowded by tenure (2007/08 - 2018/19)
The extent to which housing in London meets households’ needs can be measured in a range of ways. One of those is to look at overcrowding. Here this is defined using the “bedroom standard”. For example, a home is considered overcrowded if two or more people of a different sex (who are not a couple) over the age of 10 need to sleep in the same room.
On this measure, 8.3% of households in London are overcrowded.
Within this, social rented housing has the highest proportion of households in overcrowded conditions, with 14.6% overcrowded. This contrasts with just 2.7% of owner-occupied households. Additionally, 12.6% of private rented households are overcrowded.
Despite the variation by tenure type, overcrowding has overall remained at broadly consistent levels in London across time, with 8.3% of households overcrowded in 2018/19 compared to 6.…
People sleeping rough
People sleeping rough in London by nationality (2008/09 - 2019/20)
The number of people sleeping rough in London has almost trebled in a decade. Some 10,726 people were recorded sleeping rough in the capital in 2019/20 compared to 3,673 in 2009/10.
Most people sleeping rough are white, although the number of BAME people sleeping rough has risen faster than the number of white people. Of the people whose nationality is known, around half are British citizens, with EU citizens making up most of the rest. A large majority (83%) of people sleeping rough in London are men.
More people sleep rough in Central London than in any other part of the capital. This has been the case for some time, but the proportion of people sleeping rough who do so in Central London has fallen from over two thirds in 2011/12 to around half in 2019/20. This has been primarily driven by a rise in rough sleeping in East London.
People sleeping rough by London boroughs
People seen sleeping rough by outreach workers by borough (2019/20)
More people are recorded sleeping rough in central London than they are in the outer boroughs. By far, Westminster is the borough with the most people recorded sleeping rough with just over 2,750 people known to outreach workers there, more than three times the number in Camden, the next highest borough. The most central area of London - the City - saw slightly over 430 people sleeping rough, but this should be seen in the context of the small size of the City. Newham is the borough with the third highest number of people sleeping rough (724 people seen), a sign of the eastward move of London’s population in general.
Poverty and type of housing
Number of people in London in poverty by housing tenure (2004/05 - 2019/20)
The raw numbers of people counted as being in poverty are at similar levels for both social renters (950,000) and private renters (870,000), whereas those living in owner occupied housing who are in poverty are far fewer in number at 570,000.
Poverty rates are highest for those in social rented housing (51%), compared to 33% of those in privately rented, and 13% of owner occupiers.
If we look at the split of housing tenures of just people in poverty in 2019/20, we can see 40% are in social rented, 36% are private rented and 24% are owner occupied housing. In 2004/5 only 22% of people in poverty lived in privately rented housing. This means the number of Londoners in poverty living in the private-rented sector has increased by 102% - a very significant shift.
Poverty before and after housing costs
Proportions of people in poverty before and after housing costs (2019/20)
The difference between poverty rates before and after housing costs shows how much of an impact housing costs have on poverty.
In London, poverty rates almost double when housing costs are accounted for (increasing the poverty rate from 16% to 28%). In the rest of England, the difference is much smaller (increasing poverty rates from 17% to 21%). This shows that, compared to the rest of England, high housing costs are a much more significant driver of poverty in London.
Put another way, this means that accounting for the high housing costs in the capital leads to over one million more people being judged to be in poverty.
Poverty over time
Proportion of people in poverty over time after housing costs (1996/97 - 2019/20)
More than a quarter (27%) of Londoners live in households that are in poverty (after housing costs - AHC), meaning that 2.4 million Londoners live in poverty in 2019/20. The poverty rate (AHC) in London is 6 percentage points higher than in the rest of England
The proportion of households in poverty after housing costs (AHC) was relatively stable between 1996/97 and 2018/19:
- In London poverty rates varied between 27% and 30%; and
- in the rest of England poverty rates varied between 20% and 24%.
Poverty rates (AHC) in London have been higher than in the rest of England for at least the last two decades.
In contrast, poverty rates before housing costs (BHC) over the last 20 years have been more similar between London and the rest of England. Current rates of BHC poverty are slightly higher in the rest of England (17%) than in London (16%). Again…
London's private rental market is large and complex, with rent forming a large part of the the cost of living for many Londoners. How does rent vary across the city, and have there been any changes across the last year, particularly as lockdown and social restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic may have made some rental areas less attractive and some more so?
Rents often parallel house prices as landlords seek to offset mortgage costs and maximise their profits, so the characteristic 'prime central London' of super-expensive apartments in much of Zone 1 are replicated in high rents, while rates fall moving away from the accessible centre towards less well connected suburbs.
But there are some anomalies as the map above of median monthly rents charged on private 2-bed properties by postcode district shows. Hotspots for rental…
Relative housing costs
Housing costs as proportion of net income for households in poverty (2019/20)
Households living in poverty are spending a significantly larger proportion of their net income on housing costs than households not living in poverty. This is true both in London and in the rest of England.
London households in poverty are estimated, on average, to spend 54% of their total net income on housing costs. In comparison, those living in households which are not in poverty spend just 13% on average. The trend is similar in the rest of England with households in poverty spending 36% of their income on housing compared to 9% for those not in poverty, but the gap is much smaller than in the capital. Compared to the rest of England, both types of households in London are spending proportionally more of their net income on housing costs.
Types of court repossession in London (2003-2020)
Between 2015 and 2019, the total number of repossessions in London has fallen by more than 50%. This fall has primarily been driven by the reduction in landlord accelerated repossessions - the route taken by private landlords to regain possession of a property after a Section 21 (a so called “no fault”) eviction. At the end of 2019, this type of repossession is just over a third of the level it was in 2015.
Repossessions for people with mortgages have almost disappeared in London over the past decade, falling from over 3,604 a year in 2009 to 381 in 2019. This was possibly caused by low interest rates.
The data on court repossessions is updated each financial quarter. The most up to date data for 2020 reflects Q1 of the respective year, since evictions have been paused due to the pandemic.
Repossession by London boroughs
Total repossessions by county court bailiffs in London boroughs (2019/2020)
The rate of court-order home repossessions varies significantly between London boroughs.
The boroughs with the highest rates of repossessions are:
- Newham (3.23 per 1,000 households - almost twice the London average of 1.71 per 1,000 households.);
- Barking and Dagenham (2.81 per 1,000 households); and
- Ealing (2.66 per 1,000 households).
Whilst the boroughs with the lowest rates of repossessions are:
- Richmond upon Thames (0.47 per 1,000 households - just over a third of the London average);
- Camden (0.60 per 1,000 households); and
- City of London (0.70 per 1,000 households).
All but four London boroughs have repossession rates higher than the average in the rest of England, excluding London.
The most up to date data for 2020 reflects Q1 of the respective year, since evictions have been paused due to the pandemic.
Temporary accommodation types
Temporary accommodation types in London (2002-2021 (Q1))
Local authorities, including London boroughs, have legal duties to provide accomodation to people who are homeless. Whilst they are waiting for a permanent solution, such as a home provided by a housing association, local authorities must house them in temporary accommodation such as nightly accommodation, the Private Rented Sector, or Bed and Breakfasts.
Over the last 20 years, the number of households in temporary accommodation at a given point has drastically changed. After the peak of 2005, the number of households in temporary accommodation drastically decreased up to 2011, where almost 36,000 households were in temporary accommodation. However, since 2012 this number has steadily increased and we’re now at levels close to what we’ve seen in 2006. In 2020, nearly 61,000 London households were in temporary accommodation.
The most pre…
The impact of housing costs on poverty
London poverty rates before and after housing costs (1996/97 - 2019/20)
The proportion of people living in poverty in London almost doubles when housing costs are taken into account (rising from 16% to 27%).
This gap between before and after housing costs measures of poverty is much larger in the capital than in the rest of the country. For example, in 2019/20 the gap was 11 percentage points in London, compared to 4 percentage points in the rest of England. This demonstrates the fact that the cost of housing is a much larger driver of poverty in London than in the rest of the country.
The impact of housing costs on poverty in London has also increased since the early 2000s. For example, in 2005/06 the gap between before and after housing costs measures of poverty in capital was 9 percentage points, whilst between 2010/11 and 2016/17 the gap has been between 12 and 14 percentage points.
Trading up or Trading down? Residential Moves and Neighbourhood Deprivation
The primary reason people move homes is to improve their life prospects – but it is too simple to think of this purely in terms of the physical or social characteristics of destination neighbourhoods. Quality of life can depend upon things like proximity to family, friends, work, and venues for socialising. London offers all of these and more.
It may be too simple to think of residential moves as part of a quest to move to a less deprived neighbourhood, but it is likely to be a factor.
These two novel maps combine several Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) datasets to show how neighbourhood deprivation factors into patterns of residential moves – for people moving from outside the Greater London boundary and for London residents moving within the city. To do this, CDRC uses a composite index of multiple deprivation (IMD) to compare score…