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The rising cost of living means Londoners are struggling to afford basic essentials

Olly Worsfold Director 22/04/2022

Savanta in partnership with The Centre for London

Londoners struggling to afford essentials like food, rent and transport due to rising cost of living according to new polling by Savanta in partnership with The Centre For London.

The research found that for almost a quarter of Londoners (23%), affording food is a problem, while nearly half (47%) find rent unaffordable.

Londoners are facing an onslaught of rising costs in all areas, from food to council tax to housing and transport.

The survey is the latest issue of the Snapshot of Londoners, by Centre for London in partnership with Savanta. It was undertaken from 23 February to 7 March 2022. The previous survey was undertaken in June 2021.

The survey, which was answered by 1,549 Londoners, found that:

  • Almost a quarter of Londoners (23%) found food either unaffordable or very unaffordable for them personally, which has doubled since June 2021 (when it was 12%).
  • This was even higher for parents with children under 18 (28%, compared to 19% for people without), renters (28%, compared to 17% for homeowners), and women (25% compared to 21% for men).
  • Almost one in ten Londoners (9%) got at least some of their groceries from a foodbank in the past month, showing the large scale of hardship in the capital.
  • The proportion of people unable to pay for food was higher among young adults, families with children under 18, and Black Londoners.
  • Almost half (47%) of Londoners said rent is unaffordable for them, up from 41% in June 2021.
  • A majority of Londoners (59%) thought house prices in London were unaffordable for them. In contrast, only one in five (20%) said house prices are affordable or very affordable, down from almost three in ten (27%) in June 2021.
  • A quarter of respondents (25%) said transport is unaffordable for them, up eight percentage points from 18% in June 2021.
  • More than a third of all Londoners we surveyed (35%) said they were struggling to make ends meet – this is an increase from 29% in June 2021.
  • A third of employed Londoners (33%) said they were struggling to make ends meet, illustrating the worrying rise in the number of Londoners in work but still living below the poverty line.
  • The majority of those without a job and looking for work were also struggling to make ends meet (55%), a similar proportion for those with a disability (54%).
  • Over two thirds (68%) would be able to meet an unexpected expense of £500, down from 73% in June. Only 43% would be able to pay from their own money, as opposed to having to borrow it.

Reacting to these findings, Nick Bowes, Chief Executive of Centre for London, said:

“Londoners are facing an onslaught of rising costs in all areas, from food to council tax to housing and transport, so it is hardly surprising that many say they are struggling to make ends meet. The terrifying reality is that countless Londoners can no longer afford the everyday essentials they need just to get by, leaving many less than one pay cheque from destitution.

“Some thought that Covid-19 would see house prices and rents in London fall, with thousands leaving the city, urban living losing its attractiveness, and the growth of remote working. But the evidence shows that not only did this fail to materialise, but house prices and rents are now in fact rising sharply. London’s affordable housing crisis continues to worsen, and despite attempts by the Mayor, local authorities and national government, nothing they do seems to even touch the sides.

“We are also seeing that those with the lowest incomes are suffering more than higher earners, because essentials such as food and energy represent a greater proportion of their household budgets. With the sharp increase of energy bills kicking in this month, the number of Londoners below the poverty line is likely to increase in the coming months, and the Government is going to come under a lot of pressure to provide additional support.”

Oliver Worsfold, Director at Savanta, said:

“It is saddening, but not surprising, that the perceived affordability of house prices, rent, food and transport is at its lowest since we began polling Londoners in 2020 – and this was even before the energy price cap was lifted on 1st April. The rising cost of living all over the UK, but particularly in the capital, is no secret, and unfortunately this looks likely to rise still further in the months ahead.”

For more information or to discuss the findings, please contact [email protected] 

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.

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