Many Londoners 'living on edge of hardship' as poll shows one in four couldn't afford surprise £50 bill

Ministers have been warned many Londoners are ‘living on the edge of hardship’ (PA Archive)
Ministers have been warned many Londoners are ‘living on the edge of hardship’ (PA Archive)

Many Londoners are “living on the edge of hardship,” ministers were warned as a poll showed one in four of them could not afford an unexpected £50 bill.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hailed official figures showing inflation had fallen from 3.2 per cent in March to 2.3 per cent in April.

But the survey by Savanta for the Centre for London laid bare how many households in the capital are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

It found:

  • Fourteen per cent said they could not afford an unexpected bill in full of £20 without help.

  • Twenty-five per cent said they would be in such a position if it was £50.

  • Three in ten (30 per cent) consider food unaffordable.

  • Nearly half (49 per cent) believe energy to heat and power homes to be unaffordable.

  • Less than half (44 per cent) could afford a surprise bill in full of £250.

  • Only a third (36 per cent) would be able to if it was £500.

Antonia Jennings, Chief Executive at Centre for London, said: “Too many in our capital can’t afford an unexpected cost of as little as £20, substantially less than the cost of a weekly food shop for one in London.

“While the data from our polling is shocking, its sadly not surprising given the soaring cost of surviving day to day in London.

“The Government and our newly re-elected Mayor of London must work together to create long-term economic change, and to provide Londoners with the essential support they need.”

The think tank also stressed that one in four Londoners are living in poverty after housing costs.

Ms Jennings also emphasised that inflation for many products and services remains significantly higher than the headline figure, with rent inflation in London consistently around seven per cent.

Chris Hopkins, political research director of Savanta, added: “Our research suggests that even with inflation continuing to drop, many Londoners continue to live on the edge of hardship.

“The government will understandably want to celebrate these (inflation) figures, but when one in four people living in your capital city say they can’t afford an unexpected £50 bill, there is a danger that you look out of touch with reality.”

The poll also revealed a stark gender divide in the city, with 73 per cent of women compared to 58 per cent of men saying they are unable to afford an unexpected bill of £1,000, with the figure for all adults being 66 per cent.

* Savanta interviewed 1,532 adults in London online between April 26 and 30. Data are weighted. Full details will be available at