A data led investigation into the causes and
Supported by Trust for London Policy in Practice has embarked on an ambitious project to track changing living standards for almost one million Londoners. By combining anonymised household level data sets from councils across London we are tracking income, employment and poverty for half a million low-income households over two years, on a monthly basis.
Data is already used to detect fraud and chase arrears, so why not use it to help citizens?
About the project
Data can tell us what impact national and local policies are having on low income households and help us design better interventions.
The project proves what can be revealed when local authorities collaborate with their data. Tracking households over time tells policymakers what support is effective. The evidence base we’ve built is now a powerful tool, capable of influencing central government. Our approach is proven and deserves wider application.
We believe that administrative data is so influential it can drive the future of social policy. Some councils taking part in this project are showing how. They’re using insights from their data to identify struggling families early and targeting support, to avoid crisis.
To find out more or get involved please email email@example.com or call 0330 088 9242.
Phase 1: Poverty is dynamic
- Outer London boroughs are more heavily impacted by welfare reforms
- An effective measure of living standards should take needs into account
- Tracking employment patterns show disability is the greatest barrier
- The benefit cap disproportionally affects temporary accommodation
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Phase 2: Understand financial resilience
- Many low-income Londoners are self employed
- UC will hit self employed low-income Londoners hard
- A third of families got jobs, a third moved home and a third left due to the benefit cap
- Those most hit by the cap are private renting lone parents
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Phase 3: Poverty changes over time
- Low income Londoners are becoming less financially resilient. The proportion of Londoners with low financial resilience has grown by 20% in the last two years and will continue to grow through to 2020
- Employment helps build financial resilience. Employment is the main driver of people improving their financial resilience; for people affected, welfare reforms are a driver of lower resilience, but they don’t tell the full story
- Living standards fluctuate. Over two years a quarter of low-income households in work lost their job at least once; improving job stability can help build resilience
- The future isn’t bright. Londoners on low incomes face a bleak future with an average drop in their disposable income of £100 p/w if rents and other livings costs continue to rise as expected
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Phase 4: Londoners are getting poorer
- Londoners are poorer. Almost a quarter of working-age low-income London households (24.4% of those tracked) were facing a cash shortfall in 2019, up from 15.7% in 2016.
- Welfare reforms made people poorer. 39% of working-age households who were affected by at least one of five main welfare reforms were financially vulnerable, compared to just 17% among those not impacted by any of these reforms.
- Universal Credit and the LHA rate had a negative impact before the pandemic. Close to half (44%) of households on Universal Credit could no longer make ends meet by August 2019, while two-fifths (40%) of households impacted by the Local Housing Allowance were in cash shortfall.
- More families with children are poorer. Almost two-thirds (61%) of families with children were worse-off after household costs by 2019 than they were in 2016. As a result, the proportion of families with children facing a cash shortfall had doubled from 11% to 23%. It is estimated that across London this could equate to 229,000 children living in households that could not make ends meet.
- The COVID-19 welfare support helped some. As a result of April 2020’s welfare reforms, the average working-age low-income London household’s disposable income has been boosted by £85. This has meant an extra 6% of London’s pre-existing working-age low-income households can make ends meet.
- The new LHA increase has helped some private renters. 20% of private tenants who previously saw restrictions in housing support will no longer have their housing-related benefits restricted as a result of the increases to the Local Housing Allowance introduced in April 2020. Among those who are still impacted, their disposable income will increase by £172, moving them on average from a significant cash shortfall (-£140) to a small surplus of £33.
- The benefit cap stopped some households from getting COVID-19 welfare support. However, the benefit cap is still preventing some financially vulnerable Londoners from fully benefiting from the April reforms. Those who were already capped received no additional support and have an average cash shortfall of over £400, while those who are newly capped received some boost in income but remain with an average cash shortfall of £284.
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New analysis: Who are the most financially vulnerable residents in London?
Join Phase 5
Be part of London’s recovery
Proactively identifying and targeting support to people who need help the most has never been more important.
In a unique research project funded by Trust for London Policy in Practice has analysed low-income Londoners’ living standards using data from councils across London over the last four years. We found that working-age low-income Londoners have become increasingly financially vulnerable and the decline in living standards meant many were not prepared for the financial impact of COVID-19. View the latest Living Standards Index for London here.
Automation and monthly updates, backed by support from Innovate UK, mean that you will be able see what is happening with low income households in real-time, helping you with your immediate strategic and economic planning.
Data analysis can tell us which Londoners are most vulnerable now, who will be most vulnerable in 2021, how this will impact council finances, and how to design better interventions. Be part of our pan-London analysis to get monthly insights, and benchmark impacts in your borough against your neighbours.
We have secured funding to continue our data led investigation, now with real-time monthly updates, and we want you to join us. The research project is free and will give you insights to design better interventions.
London Boroughs who are participating
- Barking and Dagenham
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Tower Hamlets
- Waltham Forest
We are actively recruiting more London Boroughs to join Wave Two. It is free to take part and you’ll learn how the living standards of low-income households in your area compare to the rest of London.
Call 0330 088 9242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join now.
London Boroughs not yet participating
With welfare reform, rising living costs, job insecurity and the roll-out of Universal Credit, it is a time of real change for low-income Londoners. The response from policy makers needs to be right if we are to prevent many thousands of people from being pushed into real financial hardship because of the changes.
This project is unique in the way that it examines household benefits data for over half a million Londoners and allows that data to be linked over time.