Shared Opportunities

Poverty, inequality & opportunity overlapping in London

Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 20 April 2020

London's Poverty Profile is divided into five themes: 

  • People; 
  • Living standards;
  • Housing;
  • 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 Shared Opportunities theme looks more broadly at the wide range of areas where we can see poverty, inequality and opportunity overlapping – for example, access to public services, the quality of public services, air quality and pollution, community cohesion, and a range of issues around violence, crime and other concerns, such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Shared Opportunities: Indicators

GCSE attainment - grades 9-4 in English and Maths by London borough (2019)

State-educated students in London have higher GCSE attainment rates than those in England as a whole, with 68.7% of students achieving grades 9-4 (A*- C under the old grading system) in GCSE English and Maths in 2019 compared to 64.9% in all of England. 

Over two thirds of the London boroughs have a higher GCSE attainment rate than the average rate of England. The boroughs with the highest GCSE attainment rates are Sutton, Barnet, and Kingston upon Thames, which saw between 78.4% and 79.7% of their students achieving grades 9-4 in English and Maths in 2019.

GCSE attainment by ethnicity (2018)

In general, GCSE attainment is higher in London than in the rest of England. This is true for both boys and girls, students who do not speak English as a first language, students with Special Educational Needs and students from minority ethnic backgrounds. 

In both London and the rest of England, girls perform better at GCSEs than boys, with 71% of girls achieving grades 9-4 (the equivalent of A*-C under the old system) in English and Maths in London, but only 65% of boys. 

Students with English as a second language perform slightly better than those who speak English as a first language in London, whilst the opposite is true in the rest of England.  

Students with Special Educational Needs needs have much lower attainment than the average student and the attainment gap is roughly the same in London and the rest of England. 

In London, Asian…

19-year-olds without Level 2 or Level 3 qualifications (2005-2018)

Qualification levels of 19-year-olds have significantly improved over time. This is particularly evident in Inner London where the proportion of 19-year-olds without Level 3 qualifications (A Levels and equivalents) has fallen from 61% in 2005 to 35.5% in 2018.

In doing so, 19 year-olds in Inner London now perform more or less on a par with young people in Outer London and better than their peers in the rest of England (where 44.1% of 19-year-olds lack Level 3 qualifications). 

A similar trend can be seen in Level 2 qualifications (the equivalent of GCSEs), although the proportion of 19-year-olds without these qualifications (in London and the rest of England) has risen slightly since 2015.

Level 3 attainment gap between Free School Meals and non-Free School Meals students at 19 years-of-age (2005 - 2018)

The attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students is lower in Inner London than in Outer London and lower in Outer London than it is in the rest of England. 

In Inner London in 2018, 19 year olds who were eligible for Free School Meals at the end of Key Stage 4 were 12 percentage points less likely to have gained Level 3 qualifications (equivalent to A levels) than their peers who were not eligible for Free School Meals. In Outer London the figure was 20 percentage points and in the rest of England it was 29 percentage points. Looking over the past decade, the attainment gap has remained fairly consistent, with Inner London always having a smaller gap than Outer London and the rest of England.

Destinations of KS5 school leavers in London, after two years (2018)

In 2018, 41% of London’s Key Stage 5 disadvantaged students went on to pursue higher education for at least two years, in comparison to 46% of non-disadvantaged students. The second most popular destination for disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students was employment (16% and 17% of each group respectively). 

This differs from the rest of England. Overall, the proportion of students who are disadvantaged in the rest of England (22%) is smaller than in London (34%). However, only 21% of disadvantaged Key Stage 5 students in the rest of England went on to pursue higher education for at least two years (almost half of the proportion in London).

This is offset by other destinations in the rest of England, including more disadvantaged students gaining employment after Key Stage 5 (27% in the rest of England, compared to 16% in London) or goi…

Employment rate of 16-64 year olds by highest qualification level (2018)

Employment rates are, on average, higher amongst people with higher levels of qualifications. For example, 88.6% of Londoners aged 16-64 with qualifications higher than A-levels (such as university degrees) were employed in 2019 compared to 49.8% for people with no qualifications. 

Across all but the highest qualification level, employment rates are higher in the rest of England than they are in London. However, a much larger proportion of working-age people in London have qualifications higher than A-levels - 53% in London compared to 36% in the rest of England - meaning that overall employment rates are similar. 

There are a number of reasons why people may not be employed, including that they are studying, retired, looking after the home, sick or unemployed. As such, it is not necessarily a bad thing for any one individual to not be emp…

Average income deprivation percentile of the neighbourhoods that schools are located in by Ofsted rating (2019)

Ofsted ratings are given to schools by inspectors and range from 'Outstanding' to 'Inadequate'. They are based on a range of observations about a school's performance. 

This indicator shows that, on average, the better a school’s Ofsted rating is, the less deprived is the neighbourhood in which it is located. 

Whilst this is true across the country, the relationship is less pronounced in London than in the rest of England. This means that children in London who live in deprived neighbourhoods are more likely to have a school with a good Ofsted rating in their neighbourhood than those living in deprived neighbourhoods in the rest of the country.

This is particularly true for secondary schools, where there is not a clear relationship between schools’ Ofsted rating and the deprivation of the neighbourhood in which they…

Crimes recorded by neighbourhood income deprivation decile in London (2018-19)

Recorded crime in London is more prevalent in the neighbourhoods with the highest levels of income deprivation:

  • Overall, a third more crimes were recorded in the most income-deprived areas;
  • Drugs and weapons offences are over three times more prevalent in the most income-deprived 10% of areas compared to the least income-deprived 10%; and 
  • Violence, robbery and sexual offences are 2.6 times more prevalent in the most income-deprived 10% of areas compared to the least income-deprived 10%. 

Theft and shoplifting offences went against this trend, with almost 40% more of these crimes recorded in the least income-deprived areas. 

These figures only scratch the surface of what is undoubtedly a complex relationship between crime and deprivation. For example, these figures only look at crime reported to and recorded by London’s police forces. As only…

Average travel time by public transport to jobs and services by neighbourhood income deprivation decile (2017)

Based on average travel times by public transport, Londoners have much better access to jobs and services than people in the rest of England. For example, the average journey time by public transport to the nearest large employment centre from the 10% most deprived areas is 20 minutes in London compared to 26 minutes in the rest of England. 

Based on the same measure, people living in the most income-deprived areas of London have slightly better access than those in less income-deprived areas. The average journey time to public services is more than 20% longer for the least deprived areas in London than the most deprived areas. 

Journey times are only part of how well Londoners can access jobs and services. Price is also an important factor with people on low incomes unable to make the most of the opportunities provided by the city’s publi…

Qualification levels of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged KS5 leavers in London (2018)

In 2018, the majority of London’s KS5 school leavers of both disadvantaged (71%) and non-disadvantaged (77%) backgrounds had Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A-levels).

This is in contrast to the rest of England. Here, while around the same proportion (76%) of non-disadvantaged KS5 school leavers had Level 3 qualifications, only 51% of disadvantaged KS5 school leavers had a Level 3 qualification.

According to the Department for Education, students are considered disadvantaged in Year 11 and attract pupil premium funding if they are eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years, have been looked after by the local authority, or have been adopted from care.

Personal wellbeing estimates by London borough (2019/20)

Living standards are not just about poverty, incomes and wealth. A wide range of other factors contribute to living standards and well-being and, again, there is a large range of outcomes across London on many of these indicators. This indicator looks at measures of wellbeing. 

London has a worse score in terms of anxiety (3.17) than England (3.05), meaning that Londoners are, on average, more likely to report higher levels of anxiety than those in England overall. 

Londoners score lower on overall life satisfaction (7.54) than England overall (7.66). 

The personal well-being scale ranges from 0 to 10, where 0 signifies an individual not experiencing anxiety or life satisfaction at all and 10 means they are experiencing it to the highest level.The mean averages provide an overall estimate of personal well-being by geography.

Amongst the Lond…

Social inclusion and involvement in London by household income (2019)

Londoners give very similar answers about their civic and social inclusion no matter where they fall on the income scale. 26% of people living in households in the bottom quintile for income said they participated in some sort of civic activity (like campaigning) in the last 12 months, compared to 28% of people in the top income quintile.

There was a slightly larger difference between income groups for people reporting that they did not feel socially isolated; 86% of people in the highest income households had someone they could turn to compared to just 61% in the lowest income households.

English Index of Multiple Deprivation (rebased for London) (2019)

The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) is an overall relative measure of deprivation constructed by combining 7 domains of deprivation (with different weightings). The Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) highlight how it varies with one of its domains - 'Education, Skills and Training', which measures the lack of attainment and skills in the local population.

The Education, Skills and Training domain (which makes up 13.5% of the overall index by weight) shows a more noticeable east-west variation than the overall index and its other domains, which typically have more of an inner/outer London pattern.

  • Bexley, Bromley and Havering in the south-east and east of London score noticeably worse (more oranges/reds) in this domain than in the overall index which may reflect historical inequalities in education access that have persisted…

Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards Index (rebased for London) (2019)

AHAH (the index of ‘Access to Health Assets and Hazards’) is a multi-dimensional index developed by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) for Great Britain measuring how ‘healthy’ neighbourhoods are. It combines indicators under four different domains of accessibility:

  • Retail environment (access to fast food outlets, pubs, off-licences, tobacconists, gambling outlets);
  • Health services (access to GPs, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists, leisure services);
  • Physical environment (Blue Space, Green Space - Active, Green Space - Passive); and
  • Air quality (Nitrogen Dioxide, Particulate Matter 10, Sulphur Dioxide).

The map here is rebased for London, so that 10% of areas in the city fall into the worst performing decile, the next 10% into the next decile, and so on. London is, in general, a relatively unhealthy place when compared to the countryside …

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.

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