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Londoners are increasingly ready to return to Central London, new survey suggests

Most Londoners are now comfortable with returning to the city centre, while confidence in the job market is at its highest since last year, according to a new survey published today by Centre for London.

The survey is the fourth issue of The London Intelligence by Centre for London in partnership with Savanta. The previous survey was undertaken in January 2021. 

The survey, which asked 1,500 Londoners how their daily lives have been affected by the pandemic, found that:

  • Nearly two thirds of Londoners (62 per cent) said they now felt comfortable visiting central London. This is an increase of almost 10 percentage points from September 2020, when only 52 per cent said they were confident to do so. Young people aged 16-34 were most likely to say they were comfortable with going into the city centre (70 per cent) compared to Londoners aged over 55 (52 per cent). 
  • Confidence in the job market is also increasing. Londoners are feeling more optimistic about their employment prospects than at any other point in the last year. 45 per cent of Londoners said they were optimistic about their employment prospects for the next 12 months. Over half of respondents (56 per cent) are also confident that they could find another job in the next three months if they left their current job. This has risen from 47 per cent in June 2020. Older people, women, and less well-off Londoners were more likely to be pessimistic about their prospects.
  • There has also been a small drop in the number of Londoners who have seen their disposable income fall because of the pandemic: 41 per cent of respondents reported a drop in disposable income compared to 44 per cent in January 2021. However, this isn’t reflected equally across all groups, with women, self-employed and Black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners much more likely to have seen their disposable income fall during the pandemic. 

Not all Londoners are experiencing the benefits of the economic recovery from the pandemic. Whereas confidence in the job market is rising, it continues to be lower for the least well-off Londoners44 per cent think they could not find another job in the next three months if they left theirs, compared to 32 per cent for wealthier Londoners. And many Londoners’ finances are still very precarious: nearly half (48 per cent) said they would not be able to meet an unexpected expense of £500 from their own money, and this is even higher among renters (63 per cent) – a cause for concern as the ban on evictions ended this month and the end of the £20 a week universal credit uplift is on the horizon. 

Nick Bowes, Chief Executive of Centre for London said: 

“This latest survey shows London continuing its gradual, yet undramatic, recovery from the pandemic. Londoners are feeling more confident about the city and the future, but our recovery is still fragile, and the Mayor and the government still have much to do to support the city to safely live with the virus and encourage more people back into central London. 

“It is encouraging to see rising confidence in the job market, with the young and most well-off Londoners feeling most optimistic about the city and their prospects. However, the survey also reveals that many continue to struggle with the impacts of the pandemic. The most vulnerable and those on lowest incomes are going to need support from the government for some time yet if London is to avoid even bigger socio-economic problems that will end up costing the country more in the long run.” 

Oliver Worsfold, Director at Savanta said: 

“The latest set of results shows that the city is finally emerging from the shadow of the pandemic and Londoners are increasingly confident to leave their local neighbourhood in favour of central London. Our data has consistently shown that Covid-19 has exposed and reinforced the existing inequalities in how people experience living in London: nearly half are confident of their employment prospects in the next 12 months, while the same proportion would not be able to meet an unexpected expense of £500.”  

 ENDS