The Centre for London and Savanta have released their first quarterly snapshot of Londoners’ views and experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Olly Worsfold, Savanta’s lead researcher on the joint project, explores the key findings of the programme’s first wave.
Four in five Londoners (78%) are likely to still be living in London in 12 months’ time
Londoners’ finances have been hit hard by the pandemic
Cities and citizens around the world have felt the substantial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and London is no exception. Whilst the virus has taken its tragic toll on public health in the capital, many Londoners have also suffered financially over the last few months. Our research shows that 45% of Londoners have experienced a decrease in disposable income and 28% say that they are struggling to make ends meet.
To add to this, separate research for the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) by Savanta shows that many have made use of the Government job protection scheme: 28% of all businesses have furloughed at least one employee, rising to 64% amongst larger organisations (those employing at least 10 people). Under the scheme employees are only entitled to 80% of their salary (up to a monthly cap of £2,500) which goes some way to explain why so many Londoners are feeling the pinch.
As the job retention scheme evolves over the next few months, employers must either contribute towards salaries of furloughed employees or make redundancies. Should their employer choose the latter, our snapshot has revealed that Londoners could be placed in an unenviable position – indeed, almost half (47%) already say that they are not confident of finding a suitable position within three months if they were to lose their current job.
Uneven impact of the crisis likely to further increase inequality in the city
In the snapshot, we see yet again that the virus and lockdown measures do not affect all Londoners in the same way. It has exacerbated existing issues: those that were already ‘just about managing’ are now being hit the hardest. For example, 28% of the population are struggling to make ends meet, which rises to 45% of those with a disability.
As we’ve seen, almost half (45%) of Londoners have felt a decrease in their disposable income. That figure rises to 65% amongst the self-employed, 56% amongst those with part-time jobs and 53% amongst those born outside of the UK.
Londoners still see the city as the best place to weather the storm
It’s evident that Londoners are feeling the effects of the pandemic in several different ways. In a world where we are constantly reminded of the contagious nature of Coronavirus, you could be forgiven for assuming that people may choose to leave densely populated cities in favour of the countryside or smaller towns. However, our snapshot has shown that Londoners are confident that it is the best place to weather the crisis, at least for now.
Four in five Londoners (78%) are likely to still be living in London in 12 months’ time and only 12% would say they are unhappy to be currently living in the city. Additionally, 38% of Londoners are optimistic about their employment and 40% are optimistic about their financial prospects over the coming year.
Stay tuned for further insight into Londoners’ sentiments – Centre for London and Savanta will be carrying out research amongst over 1,500 Londoners every quarter to keep a finger on the pulse of the capital.