Press Release

Londoners remain committed to their city despite the pandemic

Very few Londoners intend to move out of the capital in the next year, despite the financial and social hit from coronavirus, and high housing costs, according to a new survey published today. 

The survey is the second quarterly Snapshot of Londoners by Centre for London, in partnership with Savanta. The first survey was undertaken in May. 

The survey, which asked over 1,500 Londoners how their daily lives have been affected by the pandemic found that: 

Few people expect to leave the capital, despite high housing costs 

  • Only seven per cent of Londoners expect to leave London in the next year. 
  • The most likely groups to expect to stay are older Londoners (65+) and homeowners – but 70 per cent of people who are currently unemployed and looking for work also expect to be living here next year. 
  • This is despite worries about housing affordability: 44 per cent say rent is unaffordable for them personally, and 68 per cent think it is unaffordable for younger people. A majority of Londoners say house prices are unaffordable for them personally (56 per cent), while 72 per cent think they are unaffordable for younger people. 

The financial hit from the pandemic has not been equal 

  • 42 per cent of Londoners say coronavirus has negatively affected their disposable income – unchanged since Centre for London and Savanta last asked these questions in May. 
  • 25 to 44 year olds, BAME Londoners and selfemployed Londoners are the most likely to have taken a financial hit. 
  • 29 per cent of Londoners say they are struggling to make ends meet, while 23 per cent worry that they would not be able to meet an unexpected cost of £500. 

The pandemic has been said to reveal the latent goodwill in communities across the country. Our survey found that 45 per cent of Londoners thought that people help each other out in their neighbourhood, while 27 per cent of Londoners donated time to charity in the last month. Parents of children under 18 and Londoners with a disability, both groups whose lives have been heavily disrupted this year, were amongst those most likely to volunteer for charity. 

The survey also asked about Londoners’ feelings about going into the city centre. Even before the introduction of new restrictions, half of Londoners said they would not feel comfortable visiting the centre, and the figure was higher for older age groups. 

Coronavirus has upended the daily lives of Londoners. Over the next year, Centre for London will be seeking the views of Londoners through its London Futures review, to build a shared vision of the city to 2050 and beyond. 

Claire Harding, Research Director at Centre for London said: 

Londoners continue to be divided by their experience of, and response to, the pandemic.  

Restrictions have eased since we last surveyed Londoners in the spring, but the impact of coronavirus is very far from over. Although people want to stay living in our city, we know that many are not finding it easy, and that for many people things are going to get harder. 

“Our recovery from the pandemic needs to work for all Londoners in all neighbourhoods. The Mayor of London and the government should focus training and skills development, especially for Londoners who are furthest from the job market – this way, we can prevent a crisis turning into lifetime economic scars. 

Oliver Worsfold, Associate Director at Savanta said:

“This data shows us Londoners are still in a lull: the uptake of activities considered normal before the pandemic is limited and those hit financially by the crisis are still facing enormous difficulties. 

“As we saw in the first wave, people of colour, those in more precarious employment and younger Londoners were hit harder by COVID-19 and the associated economic slowdown. As we once again enter tighter restrictions in the capital, policy makers need to recognise and combat the uneven impact of the pandemic on the diverse communities in London. 

“As the furlough scheme comes winds down, our data suggests a significant minority will continue to face financial hardship with increasingly limited support from the government.” 

Notes to Editors 

  • Centre for London is the capital’s dedicated think tank. Politically independent and a registered charity, the Centre publishes research, holds events, convenes and influences to create a better city. 
  • Savanta is a market-leading research agency, informing and inspiring its clients to make better decisions. 
  • The Snapshot of Londoners is a quarterly survey of Londoners, conducted in partnership with Savanta, looking at how Londoners’ perceptions and behaviours change over time. It will explore Londoners’ life satisfaction, attitudes to their neighbourhoods and experiences of public services, social interactions and activities, spending and leisure habits. 
  • Polling of 1,501 London residents conducted by Savanta between 14 and 28 September 2020.