Worrying levels of wealth inequality and poverty in London are too high and damaging the city’s future, according to new research by the charity Oxfam.
Research commissioned as part of the charity’s ‘Even It Up’ campaign, calling for an end to extreme poverty and inequality, reveals the depth of public concern over growing levels of wealth inequality and poverty in the capital.
The report ‘An Inequality Commissioner for London’ highlights extremes of poverty and inequality in London, and warns of a growing trend of in-work poverty.
A survey found that 70 percent of Londoners believe the income gap between the poorest and richest is too high, while 67 percent said current levels of wealth inequality are “very or fairly damaging”.
Around 2.3 million people in London are living below the poverty line, representing 27 percent of the city’s population. The average poverty rate in other parts of England is 20 percent, which many people would agree is still too high.
Whilst unemployment may have fallen in recent years, Oxfam says moving into employment is no longer a guaranteed route out of poverty. Of the 2.3 million Londoners currently living in poverty, 1.2 million come from working families – up 70 percent over ten years.
Oxfam is calling on the next Mayor of London to prioritise the issue of wealth inequality and poverty, and appoint an Inequality Commissioner for London.
Over a quarter of those surveyed by the charity said policies designed to reduce the gap between the richest and poorest Londoners would influence how they vote in the Mayoral election.
Separate research published by Oxfam last month, revealed that the richest one percent of the UK population has captured more than a quarter of the £4 trillion increase in wealth since 2000.
Rachael Orr, Oxfam Head of UK Programme said: “Poverty and inequality in London is growing, yet the capital has 80 billionaires – more than any other city in the world.
“Given the wealth that exists in the capital, we should all be angry that wealth isn’t spread more evenly and that poverty levels remain so high.
“Appointing an Inequality Commissioner will ensure that addressing economic inequality and poverty is at the heart of future plans for the city.”
More than 100,000 people in London were provided three-days worth of emergency food from a foodbank in 2014-15, and Oxfam say they have helped thousands of people across the UK since 2010.
Lorna Sculley, a 36-year-old mum of three children, who works 16 hours a week as a dinner lady whilst her children are at school, has been supported by Oxfam partner First Love Foundation.
Lorna said: “Life is difficult, I’m still living day to day and essentials like school uniform puts me into financial worry as I know I can’t afford it.
“Whilst I don’t need the emergency food support now, it doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling.”
Denise Bentley, Chief Executive of First Love Foundation said” “Inequality is having a devastating effect on the lives of Londoners like Lorna who, despite being employed, are trapped in a continuous cycle of low wages and insecure work.
“We constantly see the debilitating impact it has on families who are unable to provide the basic essentials of food and shelter.”