Blog Post

Deprivation remains a major issue for London boroughs

Recent findings on deprivation levels in England suggest that parts of London have seen improvements but the fight is far from being won.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published its most recent statistics on levels of deprivation in England. These findings are significant as they are used to allocate government funding to social services and culture.

Headline reports suggest that the map of deprivation is shifting, with Northern and coastal towns facing increasingly widespread deprivation, whilst comparatively, London boroughs are no longer the most deprived councils in the country.

The fact that deprivation is becoming less severe is good news for some London boroughs – particularly in east London, where levels of deprivation were among the greatest in the country. In 2015, there were four London boroughs amongst the 20 most deprived English local authorities while in 2019 there is only one.

But looking beyond the headline statistic, deprivation remains a major issue for London. Half of London boroughs are still in the most deprived third of English local authorities – and this has not improved since the 2015 publication.

Deprivation affecting older people (aged 60 and over) in the capital, in particular, shows no sign of decreasing. Seven of the ten English local authorities with the highest income deprivation affecting older people are London boroughs (see the table below). Even traditionally well-to-do boroughs such as Ealing, Redbridge and Kensington and Chelsea have among the highest levels of income deprivation affecting the elderly in the country. While some Londoners reach retirement having built up great property wealth, for many others in the capital, retirement is an area of hardship.

Moreover, and perhaps counter-intuitively, the fact that that deprivation is less widespread in some boroughs does not mean that fewer residents are deprived – it could also indicate that more affluent residents have moved into these boroughs (London has gained one million residents in the last decade). It is important to note that deprivation statistics tend to highlight conditions of places over people, so an increase in wealthy residents may obscure poverty.

As Mayoral candidates draft their manifestos, these new figures show that the fight against deprivation is far from being won in London. These statistics should remind local and national policymakers that place-based measures of deprivation always gloss over the conditions of individual people and communities, and this is particularly the case in London.

Table: Income deprivation*, ranked, 2019

*proportion of residents who receive means-tested benefits, such as income support

1 = most deprived local authority

317 = least deprived local authority

Local authority Income deprivation rank  Local authority Income deprivation affecting older people (60+) rank
Hackney 19 Tower Hamlets 1
Barking and Dagenham 20 Hackney 2
Tower Hamlets 23 Newham 3
Islington 35 Islington 4
Enfield 41 Southwark 6
Haringey 42 Lambeth 7
Newham 44 Haringey 9
Lewisham 50 Barking and Dagenham 12
Southwark 54 Brent 15
Greenwich 57 Hammersmith and Fulham 17
Brent 65 Lewisham 18
Lambeth 70 Greenwich 21
Waltham Forest 72 Camden 23
Hammersmith and Fulham 88 Waltham Forest 25
Camden 90 Westminster 27
Ealing 94 Ealing 29
Croydon 97 Wandsworth 36
Westminster 101 Enfield 37
Hounslow 111 Kensington and Chelsea 42
Redbridge 132 Hounslow 44
Kensington and Chelsea 137 Redbridge 46
Hillingdon 142 Harrow 65
Barnet 149 Barnet 80
Harrow 156 Croydon 87
Havering 162 Merton 95
Wandsworth 167 Hillingdon 108
Bexley 170 Havering 156
Merton 181 Kingston upon Thames 158
Sutton 197 Sutton 169
Bromley 207 Bexley 183
Kingston upon Thames 242 Bromley 208
City of London 280 Richmond upon Thames 228
Richmond upon Thames 283 City of London 262



Nicolas Bosetti is Research Manager at Centre for London. Follow him on Twitter.