Basic standard of living ‘out of reach’ for millions of Londoners

Rising costs of living forcing many in the capital to go without necessities, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Wallet (credit Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash)
Wallet (credit Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash)

Around four-in-ten Londoners are unable to afford to “live with dignity”, new research has revealed.

A report funded by Trust for London has found that more than three-and-a-half million Londoners, including one million children, have an income below what is needed for a “basic standard of living”.

Manny Hothi, the trust’s chief executive, said the findings show that “a basic standard of living is out of reach for millions of low-income Londoners, and the economic forces that have devastated us all are crushing them even more”.

The government responded to the report by saying ministers “have a plan to halve inflation and are providing record financial support” to those struggling.

The analysis, carried out by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, shows how rising food and energy costs mean Londoners now need to earn substantially more for a minimum standard of living.

The high cost of rent was also singled out as being a particular issue. Some 74% of Londoners living under the minimum income standard are renters.

The report warns: “The additional costs of a minimum budget in London mean that a decent standard of living in the capital costs between 12% and 66% more [than in the rest of the UK].”

Other findings include the fact that some 48% of children living in London are in households with incomes below what they need for a decent living standard. The same is true for 35% of the city’s pensioners.

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Matt Padley, the report’s lead author, said: “This is not about an extravagant lifestyle, but about doing the sorts of things that many of us take for granted.

“It’s clear that meeting this decent standard of living is just not possible for lots of people living in the capital and this means having to make difficult choices about what to prioritise.

“No-one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or whether they can keep a roof above their head.

“All people should be able to feel secure where they live, connected to those around them, able to live with dignity.

“We desperately need a shared vision of what London could be – for everyone – and a clear plan of how to achieve this.”

The report warns that “safety-net benefits for people living in London continue to fall well short of meeting minimum needs”.

It says: “With the cost-of-living payments from [the] government in 2022, support for out of work single working-age adults living on their own covers just 6% of minimum needs [after rent and council tax have been paid].”

A government spokesman responded: “We know people are struggling, which is why we have a plan to halve inflation and are providing record financial support worth an average £3,300 per household.

“On top of this we have raised benefits including Universal Credit in line with inflation, increased the National Living Wage and are helping households with food, energy and other essential costs.

“We believe that the best route out of poverty is through work, which is why we are helping millions more return to work with a £3.5billion package providing more work coach support and more help for the sick and disabled.”

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