Deprivation in London

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 6th November 2019.

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Photo of Fiona Twycross Fiona Twycross Labour

What do the Government’s recently released indices of deprivation mean for London?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London): Thank you. The indices show there are still too many Londoners feeling the effects of deprivation and poverty, and issues like housing affordability and air quality remain big challenges. The latest release broadly shows that overall London has a smaller proportion of England’s most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the last set of data published in 2015. However, there is no room for complacency and there is much more to be done.

We also have to be cautious in how we interpret this information. Much of the data behind the release was collected in 2015/16. The full effects of the Government’s damaging welfare reforms were introduced in 2016, many of which have had a negative impact on Londoners that has not been captured. The research my team at City Hall published in July [2019] shows the impact of these reforms will push an extra 100,000 Londoners, including 75,000 children, into poverty by 2021/22. The research also shows that reforms over the past four years like the benefits freeze and the two-child limit have significantly cut threshold incomes of some of the most disadvantaged Londoners. As we know from other sources, Universal Credit has contributed to an increase in rent arrears and food bank use. The results of the new survey of Londoners, which was published in June, show that a staggering 1.5 million and 400,000 children in London are living in situations of low or very low food security.

Photo of Fiona Twycross Fiona Twycross Labour

Thank you. I agree that we cannot be complacent, and I wondered if you could comment on how important London Challenge Poverty Week is in continuing to highlight the issues and contribute to eradicating poverty in London.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The summit is taking place now, as we speak, and I am sure if I was not here I would be addressing the summit. It is really important. It raises awareness of inequalities taking place but also celebrates the work being done by partners to address this. It shows how we can tackle poverty. One of the things that Debbie Weekes-Bernard [Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement], who is addressing the summit on my behalf, the event, will be talking about is the fruits of the work we did with Child Poverty Action in July. In the first five weeks of the project, which is putting advisers on welfare rights in primary school, the pilot increased the incomes of these families in this one primary school by almost £50,000 combined. It shows, with the right advice, how we can take steps to address some of the poverty Londoners are facing.

Photo of Fiona Twycross Fiona Twycross Labour

Thank you. How are your Research and your Economic Fairness Teams looking at the reasons behind deprivation so that we can find real solutions to poverty in London?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

We have already looked at some of this. That is one of the reasons why I talked about welfare benefit changes from the Government. It is a reality that the welfare benefit changes have driven more people into poverty.

I am concerned that if we get the wrong exit from the EU - all exits are bad for us - it will accelerate some people being driven to poverty. One of the things we are doing is working with employers to get more employers to pay the London Living Wage. I am really pleased that we have more than doubled, since I became Mayor, the number of employers paying the London Living Wage. We are doing a whole lot of work in relation to the causes of poverty, the drivers of poverty, but also what can be the drivers to get people out of poverty as well.