'London has among the highest poverty rates in the UK' - London Councils responds to JRF poverty report

  • By JackGraves

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's UK Poverty 2019-20 report has highlighted the high rates of poverty in the capital. 

Commenting on the research, Cllr Muhammed Butt, London Councils’ Executive Member for Welfare, Empowerment and Inclusion, said:

“There are massive inequalities across the UK, with the worst here in London. This crucial report lays bare the serious challenge of tackling deprivation in the capital. 

“In contrast to the simplistic mythmaking about London, the streets here aren’t paved with gold. London has among the highest poverty rates in the UK, with the most severe pensioner and in-work poverty and two-thirds of the national homelessness total.

“The government is making positive noises about levelling up the country but needs to boost support for deprived communities everywhere – including the capital.

“Without question, public services and poverty reduction programmes across the whole country urgently need adequate funding. Councils should be given strengthened powers and resources so that we can improve local support and make much faster progress in bringing poverty rates down.”  

London Councils is calling on the government to raise the Local Housing Allowance (the housing benefit for those renting in the private sector) to cover at least 30% of local market rents. London Councils’ research shows this would significantly reduce the number of Londoners at risk of homelessness.

To address the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the capital, boroughs seek improved support for council housebuilding. This requires an end to all national restrictions on the use of Right to Buy receipts, so that every penny raised from council house sales can be reinvested in replacements, and confirmation of long-term social rent levels.

London Councils has also called for local government to be given an enhanced role in the welfare system. Boroughs have asked for full Universal Credit data sharing with local authorities – including notification when a claimant is sanctioned or affected by the Benefit Cap – and a restoration of national funding for Local Welfare Assistance to pre-2015/16 levels.