Visitor numbers to London’s major attractions saw strong year-on-year growth of 6.6 per cent for the quarter to June 2017. Londoners’ concern about terrorism has fallen in the third quarter of this year, despite a number of incidents in spring and early summer. Concern about housing rose up the list, now behind only Brexit and the NHS.
The Ipsos Mori issues index asks individuals what they see as the most important issues facing Britain today. The NHS and Brexit remain the top two concerns of Londoners respectively, mirroring the picture across Great Britain. The numbers indicate that Londoners are a little less concerned about these generally, and there was a big drop off in the number concerned about the NHS, probably reflecting the decline of healthcare issues in the political and public sphere (although the substantive issues for the NHS are unlikely to have changed).
Housing has risen to third position of Londoners’ concerns, leapfrogging the economy, and continues to be much more recognised as an issue compared to Great Britain as a whole, which is unsurprising given the problems in relation to the capital’s housing market.
Concern over foreign affairs and/or terrorism has fallen back again, spiking in the second quarter (7.3 per cent now, vs 10.9 per cent then), despite high profile terror attacks in London in March and June, and in Manchester in May. This contrasts with the national trend, where it is higher (16.9 per cent for Q3) and has not really receded, perhaps indicating Londoners’ resilience and ‘business as usual’ attitude in the face of adversity.
London’s major attractions continue to attract visitors, bolstering the capital’s position as a global and national hub for cultural attractions. The quarter to June saw a 6.6 per cent increase in footfall, which was largely stimulated by a strong month in April, when 6.3 million visitors went through their doors.This was probably largely due to the Easter weekend falling halfway through this month (compared to late March in 2016). Charging attractions saw their largest ever year on year footfall increase (23 per cent), while free ones saw small declines in visitor numbers. While many of London’s biggest attractions are in central London, figures for the second quarter indicate a faster pace of growth for those outside this central area (11.7 vs 5.5 per cent), indicating cultural experience is broadening its geography.
While there were some concerns visitor numbers would fall below trend as a result of the high profile terror attacks, this appears not to have been the case over the spring in the capital.
Total Notifiable Offences (TNOs) rose to over 73,000 in July across London – a level not seen since May 2011 – a rise of 7.6 per cent compared to the same month last year. This equates to 8.26 reported crimes per 1,000 Londoners. Reported violent and knife crimes have continued to rise as well, to over 23,000 (up 5 per cent) and over 1,300 (up 27 per cent) respectively. Fear of crime, measured quarterly, has been falling however, and is at its lowest level (29 per cent) since Q1 2010.
This hints at a methodology issue behind these statistics: an increase in the number of reported crimes does not mean the number of crimes is necessarily increasing. Different crimes tend to have different reporting levels – generally, more serious crimes are more likely to be reported. Alternative data from surveys suggest crime across England and Wales is falling.
Homelessness and rough sleeping
Figures collected by the Combined Homelessness Information Network for the second quarter of this year suggest the number of rough sleepers across the capital has fallen 3.9 per cent compared to the same three months last year, to 2,584. Only a small proportion of those outreach workers contacted (14 per cent) were classified as living on the streets, but a worrying number (nearly half) were new rough sleepers.
There has been a sustained drop in the number of Central and Eastern European nationals recorded as sleeping on the streets. There is some concern among charities and advocacy groups that this is the result of the Home Office targeting vulnerable individuals for deportation, as revealed by leaked emails.
Rough sleeping is the tip of the iceberg of the homelessness problem in London; a recent report suggested that there were 13 times more hidden homeless people (as compared to those on the streets), which is another real issue. Despite this, official DCLG figures suggest that the number accepted as being homeless is continuing to fall in the capital for the second quarter of this year.
At Shelter we are all too aware that rough sleeping is only the most visible tip of the iceberg. As of the end of June 2017, there were 87,000 children in temporary accommodation in London. Analysis of the causes of homelessness continue to point to the need for bold government action on the structural failings in the housing market. The number of people becoming homeless due to the loss of a private tenancy has soared since Local Housing Allowance cuts began in 2011. A recent National Audit Office report confirmed that welfare reform has likely contributed to homelessness, as low income households have struggled to find affordable accommodation. Government commitment to reducing homelessness will therefore need to include a review of housing options for Londoners on the lowest incomes.
Kate Webb, Head of Policy, Shelter