One million Londoners forced to get by on ‘relative low incomes’ by sky-high housing costs

Commuters walk along a platform at Waterloo train station (PA)
Commuters walk along a platform at Waterloo train station (PA)

A million Londoners are being forced to get by on relative low incomes by the city’s sky-high housing costs, a new report revealed on Tuesday.

It showed that before housing costs were taken into account 1.2 million people in the capital, including 400,000 children, were classed as in “relative low income” which means they are living in households with income below 60 per cent of the average in that year.

But once housing costs are factored in the figure rockets to 2.2 million, including 700,000 children, according to the analysis by the House of Commons Library into poverty in the UK.

The findings highlight that even though incomes in London are high compared to other regions, the extra wages are quickly being eaten away by soaraway rents and mortgage bills.

The city and the South East region had the lowest percentage of people in relative low income before housing costs, at 14 per cent.

The highest figure of 22 pre cent was in the West Midlands at 22 per cent, followed by the North East and East Midlands, both at 21 per cent.

But after housing costs, London leapfrogged to the joint second highest total number of people in such difficult financial situations, with 25 per cent of the population affected, the same as the North East, and only behind the West Midlands on 27 per cent.

Claire Harding, research director at the Centre for London, said: “Londoners are being hit hard by the cost of living crisis, with high housing costs pushing thousands into poverty.

“We need action now to bring spiralling rents under control. In the short term this means uprating benefits to meet the real cost of living in London. And it means unlocking development to build the affordable and social homes that Londoners desperately need.”

The study, which was based on a yearly average in the three years to 2021/22, also examined levels of “persistent low income” which means that they have been in “relative low income” for three out of the past four years.

It found that London had the highest rate of persistent low income after housing costs, at 16 per cent, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and West Midlands, all on 14 per cent, with the South East and South West the lowest in Britain at ten per cent.

Before housing costs, London had the lowest rate, along with the South East, at six per cent, compared to the highest in Yorkshire and the Humber at 13 per cent.