The London Intelligence tells London’s story through data. This report explores the latest Snapshot of Londoners survey results, looking at how Londoners are coping with the effect of coronavirus on their finances and their daily lives, and how they feel about living in their city. This issue is produced in partnership with Savanta.
The survey is the second quarterly Snapshot of Londoners. The first is available to read here.
Although restrictions in London have reduced since the spring, and Londoners are working more hours, the number who say their disposable income has fallen because of COVID-19 is about the same as in May – 42 per cent. More than a quarter of people in our city are struggling to make ends meet.
Despite this, and despite worries about housing costs, attachment to the city is strong – only seven per cent expect to move out in the next year. Civic life is energetic, with one in four Londoners volunteering their time to charity in the last month. Londoners are starting to return to social activities, but many prefer to stay local – half would not feel comfortable visiting the city centre.
ECONOMY AND FINANCES
Employed Londoners have been working more hours
Most employed Londoners have been able to work more hours in September, as schools returned and economic sectors that were shut in May, such as hospitality or retail, reopened. As is often the case, paid hours were lower than worked hours – 12 per cent of Londoners worked for 10 hours or less, but 21 per cent were paid for 10 hours or less.
This data does not include people who have been made redundant. London’s unemployment rate has already increased from 4.7 to 5.3 per cent between January and August 2020 and is expected to rise further.
Four in 10 Londoners have lost income since coronavirus hit, with some groups more exposed
The recession continues to have an impact on a large proportion of Londoners’ disposable income – 42 per cent said their income decreased due to COVID-19. This figure is unchanged since our previous issue, despite a reduction in coronavirus infections in summer 2020.
The survey confirms that the financial hit from the recession has primarily affected groups with high risk of poverty. Indeed, younger and mid-career people (aged 25-44), BAME Londoners, tenants, and particularly self-employed workers were more likely to say they their income has been negatively affected by COVID-19, they were also more likely to struggle in making ends meet.
Looking ahead, a minority of Londoners (but a significant one) is pessimistic about their employment prospects and finances over the next year. Worry about employment prospects has increased a little since May, and worry about personal finances slightly receded.
Some groups at the sharp end of the crisis are much more worried about their employment prospects: students (31 per cent), people who are on part-time, zero-hours contracts or freelance (35 per cent) and people who are currently looking for work (52 per cent).
As London enters the second wave, nearly three in 10 are struggling to make ends meet
The survey also highlights the economic vulnerability of many Londoners, even though the worst of the unemployment rise has yet to come. 29 per cent say they are struggling to make ends meet, and 23 per cent wouldn’t be able to meet an unexpected expense of £500, while a further 21 per cent would need to borrow to pay for it.
TO STAY OR TO GO
Few people expect to leave the capital, despite high housing costs
There has been a lot of press coverage about people wanting to leave London in recent months. However, our data shows that few expect to leave London in the next year – only seven per cent think it is unlikely that they will still be living here. This is unchanged since we last asked this question in May. The most likely groups to expect to stay are people aged 65 and over, and those who own their homes – but even among people who are currently unemployed and looking for work, 70 per cent say it is likely they will still be living in London next year.
Despite expecting to stay living in London, residents are worried about the affordability of both renting and buying a home. They are particularly worried about younger Londoners (aged 16 to 25). Older Londoners are the most likely to worry about affordability for the younger generation: 80 per cent of Londoners aged over 65 say rent is unaffordable for young people, but 29 per cent of young people themselves say that rents are unaffordable for them personally. 43 per cent of Londoners think that homelessness has increased in their area in the last year. For some people, quality is a worry as well as affordability: one in six homeowners and one in four tenants are unhappy with the quality of housing in their local area.
Air quality is Londoners’ most common environmental worry for their their local area, above climate change, wildlife diversity, and water pollution. Despite recent evidence of improving air quality in the city, concern about the issue remains high – 46 per cent of Londoners regularly worry about this, rising to 55 per cent of those with children.
COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTEERING
A significant number of Londoners believe people help each other out, but some groups are more likely to say this
Many say the recent flurry of mutual aid groups has revealed the latent goodwill in communities across the city. 45 per cent of Londoners say people help each other out in their neighbourhood and this figure has not changed since May – but not all Londoners think the same. Homeowners are more likely to agree (51 per cent do, compared to 38 per cent for tenants), and so are parents with children under 18 (52 per cent), probably because both groups tend to be more established in their neighbourhood. It may be also that parents are more likely to seek and receive help, for example with getting buggies up stairs.
27 per cent of Londoners have donated time to charity in the last month, even as the number of hours worked by employed Londoners increased – suggesting that people are getting busier.
There are large differences across groups. People who actively practice a religion or identify as LGBTQ were much more likely to have volunteered for charity. Londoners with a disability and parents of children under 18, both groups whose lives have been heavily disrupted by the pandemic and associated lockdown, were also more likely to volunteer for charity.
Our survey also found that 43 per cent of Londoners had given money to charity in the past month.
ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE HOME
Londoners have started to return to social activities, but activity is patchy
The options available to Londoners for activities outside the home have increased since the spring, and a large majority of residents have taken part in at least one in the month before the survey: although it is notable that more Londoners were getting takeaways than going to restaurants. Gym-going has been low at just one in seven people – this may be because of infection fears, cost worries, or simply that people are enjoying more outside exercise. The most likely groups not to have taken part in any activities were people aged 65 and over and people looking for work: it seems that the barriers are a mixture of health concerns and financial worries.
Only about half of Londoners say they feel ‘very or quite comfortable’ going into central London. 16 to 34 year olds are more likely than their older counterparts to feel comfortable, perhaps reflecting different levels of risk from coronavirus, but there was no significant difference between ethnic groups. While older Londoners may still be wary about visiting the city centre, they are more likely to be spending time outside than when we conducted the survey in May: 72 per cent of over 65s have spent time in a public space in the last week, compared to 58 per cent four months ago.