There has been a significant rise in the number of rough sleepers in the capital. The number of people visiting London remained broadly unchanged, while admissions to visitor attractions increased, particularly in central locations. Brexit remains Londoners’ top worry, but concern over housing, education and poverty increased. Overall crime levels, including for knife crime, were stable, though injuries from knife crime reduced slightly.
The number of people recorded as sleeping rough in London increased by 31 per cent to over 3,200 individuals in the first three months of 2019 when compared to the same period in the previous year.
This overall increase was driven by a 55 per cent rise in the number of new people
sleeping rough in London, to 1,550 people. Over the same period, individuals sleeping rough intermittently increased by 21 per cent, whilst those living on the streets decline by 5 per cent
The continuing shortage of affordable housing in London, cutbacks in other support services, and the lack of security in private rented housing may all be playing a part in the sharp rises in rough sleeping in the last six months of 2018.
Tube and bus journeys
Despite monthly variations, ridership journeys on the underground have been broadly steady. The year-to-date average for trips on the London Underground reached 105.8 million in the period ending March 2019 – a one per cent year-on-year increase. By comparison, bus journey figures continue a longer term downward trajectory, with a one per cent annual average decline over the same period. Ridership on London’s bus network continues to occupy the largest share of all public transport usage, at 170.4 million trips on average per month in the year to March 2019.
It will be interesting to see if ridership increases, as external providers connect users to the network through their own platforms. For example, Uber recently announced that they will integrate London public transport information into their own app, with real time information and start-to-end directions.
Despite seasonal variations, 5.2 million international visitors came to the capital in the third quarter of 2018. This remained largely unchanged from the previous two years. While numbers have not returned to their Q2 2017 peak, this resilience indicates that the impact of terrorist attacks that summer may have been limited. The average visitor spent six nights in the capital, marginally lower than the UK-wide figure of eight.
Spend per visitor
Despite broadly unchanged visitor numbers, the combined spend of visitors to the capital fell to £3.54 million in the third quarter of 2018, equating to half of all tourist spending in the UK. The average visitor spent £674.69 in Q3 2018, 21 per cent less than its unusually high level in the same quarter in 2017.
New research from London First has found that a fifth of international visitor spending takes place outside central London and 46 per cent of London’s hotel guests stay here.
London Attractions Monitor
London attractions had a comparatively strong final quarter of 2018, with admission figures up 7 per cent on the previous year, to 13.65 million total admissions. Subsiding security fears may well have contributed to an increase in overall visitor numbers, particularly in central London. Free attractions saw a larger increase in admissions, at 5.9 per cent, compared to 3.5 per cent for paid attractions.
Unsurprisingly, Brexit remains the biggest issue occupying Londoners concerns, with two thirds (67 per cent) ranking it as a top concern in the first quarter of 2019.
The quarterly issues index from Ipsos MORI shows that worry over Brexit has displaced concerns over healthcare and crime, which saw a quarter-on-quarter decline of nine and three per cent respectively. On the other hand, Londoners seem to be more concerned about housing, education and poverty.
Yet Londoners appear to be less worried than their counterparts in the wider UK. In the first quarter of this year concern for Brexit saw a quarter-on-quarter increase of one per cent in London, compared to four per cent in the rest of the country.
In the three months to February 2019, Met Police recorded an average of 71,381 total notifiable offences per month, which represents an increase of 8.6 per cent on the same period the year previously.
Looking at specific types of crime, recorded knife crime fell slightly by one per cent in the first quarter of 2019 when compared to the previous three months, to 3,640 offences (but rose slightly compared to the same period last year). The number of these crimes resulting in injury saw a six per cent proportional decline over the same period, to 920 incidents. Violent crimes against persons also saw a one per cent quarter-on-quarter decline in the three months to March 2019, though reported incidences have increased nine per cent when compared to the previous year. Theft incident numbers rose by 3.5 per cent between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019.
Concerns that cuts to police funding are harming London’s ability to guard against crime continue to be raised, most recently by London Assembly member Unmesh Desai.