Outer London Is Getting Poorer

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 82 months ago
Outer London Is Getting Poorer
Photo by Mark from the Londonist Flickr pool

The idea of inner London as deprived and outer London as leafy and better off may have to shift, according to research from Centre for London. Poverty rates in inner London are falling, while rates in outer London are going up.

London's population sees a huge amount of churn (between 2001 and 2009, 3.8m people arrived here but 3.4m people moved out). Centre for London believes this is largely responsible for a shift towards inner London having more highly skilled workers — the change is too marked for it to be the local population upskilling (the number of people working in skilled occupations in Hackney went up from 49% in 2004 to 64% in 2014, for instance). Professionals, it seems, want to live near the centre and not in outer London, where the proportion of skilled workers is dropping.

As you'd expect, this also means inner London's poverty rates are declining. The number of residents who earn less than 60% of median income has fallen throughout most of inner London, most strikingly in Hackney and Islington. In outer London, poverty rates have risen, particularly in Hillingdon, Enfield, Redbridge, Ealing, Barnet, Harrow and Kingston upon Thames. There's some evidence that this isn't necessarily poorer Londoners in inner London being pushed out, but newer Londoners realising outer London is all they can afford.

The four London boroughs which were in the top 20 of councils when it comes to intensity of deprivation have also dropped down the rankings. Newham used to be 14th; it's now ranked 104. (Let's not get too excited though: many inner London boroughs still have very high numbers of children and elderly people living in poverty, though Brent and Barking and Dagenham also feature on these lists.)

What does this mean? Well, outer London's going to need to up its focus on schools, health and social care to take care of more poorer residents than it's had in the past. Genuinely affordable housing will need to follow, particularly as private renting is increasing in London's outer boroughs. Economic investment and job creation will need to move outwards, if poorer Londoners aren't to continue being penalised by high transport costs as they commute into Zone 1.

The political map is also likely to shift — traditionally seen as solid Tory, four outer London constituencies were won by Labour at the general election. Boris Johnson won the mayoralty by using a 'donut strategy' of focusing on outer London; will that be successful in the future?

Read more in Centre for London's report: Inside Out.

Last Updated 10 December 2015

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