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Londoners in poverty after paying for housing

A quarter of Londoners (25%) live in poverty after paying for housing, underlining how high housing costs in the city are stretching people, research from think tank Centre for London has revealed.

The average rent in London is equivalent to 40% of average household income, compared to 26% across England.

There is significant variation by borough in the number of overcrowded homes, from 5% in Richmond upon Thames to 22% in Newham.

Claire Harding, interim chief executive at Centre for London, said: “Getting to grips with fixing London’s housing market will be no small feat, and our report sets out the scale of the challenge we are dealing with.

“For too long, politicians have been complacent about the lack of decent homes for Londoners. Too many are living in poor housing and being forced into poverty as a result. As our research shows, this is especially true for people from disadvantaged and minority communities.

“Progress in building more affordable homes can only be achieved through big thinking about long-term solutions. We look forward to sharing what these should be later this year.”

Many Londoners are now living in conditions that are increasingly insecure, unsafe, and further away from the city centre.

Local authorities are struggling to house thousands of people who are homeless and need temporary accommodation. The number of people who require it is up by 5% in the year to February 2023.

The number of rough sleepers in London is also up by 50% in 2021-22 compared to 2011-12, and more than 300,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing in the capital.

The think tank said London and national leaders need to reconsider what is politically and practically possible to fix the problem, and policymakers should work alongside businesses, housing developers and investors to do so.

The report argues that their contribution – through measures such as impact investment for affordable housebuilding – is essential. Long-term partnerships like these are vital to keep businesses and the public sector running.

Ben Denton, chief executive of Legal & General Affordable Homes, said: “London’s housing market is a microcosm of the housing challenges facing the nation.

“For the city to continue to thrive, we need a functioning housing marketplace where people from all walks of life can afford to live. Good-quality, affordable housing acts as a firm foundation for healthy, engaged, and economically active communities.

“To tackle the capital’s complex housing challenges, we need to dial up collaboration and long-term solutions—and these must come not only from local and national governments but also housebuilders, developers, and investors.

“Leveraging insights, expertise, and capital from across the public and private sector, and in collaboration with organisations like Centre for London, can help drive ways to better serve the diverse housing needs of London’s communities and deliver a more inclusive housing marketplace.”