LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than one in four Londoners, many of them in work, live in poverty due to stagnant wages and rapidly rising rents, according to a report released on Monday.
In the British capital, 2.3 million people live in poverty with a record 1.3 million of them in jobs, according to London’s Poverty Profile, which uses official data to measure poverty.
The report said a single adult in poverty earns less than 144 pounds ($189) a week after taxes and housing costs are deducted, and the average family of four has less than 347 pounds to spend on all other costs of living.
“Despite its glaring prosperity and privilege, London remains the capital of English poverty, due mainly to the high rents paid by the half of all households who rent their homes,” said Adam Tinson from New Policy Institute, a British research organization that produced the report.
London housing costs are among the highest in the world, with average rents now more than 1,800 pounds ($2,400) a month, according to property lender Landbay.
While families who rent from private landlords have long endured high costs, families living in social housing - built by government or charities to protect the poorest - are now seeing the fastest rent increases, Tinson said in a statement.
Rents for local government housing have increased by around 30 percent in the last five years, even faster than private rents, which have risen a fifth, the report found.
The proportion of Londoners living in poverty - defined as earning less than 60 percent of the median income - has fallen to 27 percent from 29 percent over the last six years.
As the population has grown, the overall number of people in poverty remains unchanged, according to the report, but of those the number in work is now at a record level at 58 percent.
Housing costs that are more than double the average outside the capital are the main reason poverty in London is higher than in the rest of the country, where the average is 21 percent, it added.
Restrictive planning regulations, along with steadily rising demand from new households, foreign investment and years of rampant property speculation, have kept London’s housing market on a tear for the past two decades.
Average house prices in London have more than quadrupled in the last two decades but average wages have risen by only a fraction of that amount.
“The reality remains, that for many work does not pay enough, or offer the security that people need,” said Mubin Haq, policy director at Trust for London, an anti-poverty charity.
The bottom 50 percent of London households now own just 5 percent of the city’s wealth, while the top 10 percent owns more than half, it said.
Reporting by Matthew Ponsford, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org