Housing and inequality in London - Centre for London's new study

New study on the links between housing and inequality published today, with a launch event at Centre for London this morning.  Seems like a useful contribution.

"Over the past 20 years the price of housing in London has quadrupled, and the number of people renting privately  has grown dramatically. London’s housing crisis is by now infamous: it is the top issue for London voters and for London businesses, who worry about recruitment.

Housing and Inequality in London looks at how sky-high housing costs are also increasing income inequality in the capital. The report reveals three ways in which rapidly rising housing costs are affecting the fortunes of Londoners and disparities in income and wealth.


  1. Traditional assumptions about poverty and housing tenure are being eroded.
  2. Rising house prices have inflated wealth disparities.
  3. Rising housing costs are suburbanising poverty.

The report authors argue that the links between housing and inequality can no longer be ignored."

The study shows that London's housing and property markets are exacerbating inequality, which is no surprise.  It also helpfully shows that being in social housing is a protective against poverty. Depressing in a way that we need a study to show us that social housing does what it was created to do back in the late 19th century - offer people cheaper housing that they could otherwise afford, leaving them with more money for other things. The report offers useful data on the growth of the private rented sector, and the parallel rapid rise in both private rents and house prices. London really does seem to be going back to the future. The slums of Victorian London were of course in the private rented sector - to use todays housing jargon.  

The study shows how London's housing and property market increases inequality, but it doesn't really explore how inequality (the accumulated cash of the rich invested in property and the behaviour of the financial services sector pouring money into the deregulated mortgage market over the last forty years) has fuelled the city's housing affordability crisis. As the rich get richer investing in seemingly ever rising property markets becomes more and more attractive, and unfortunately for London and its people, we are at the centre of footloose globalised capital. Without tackling wealth accumulations at the top, and property is part of that wealth, we won't solve London's affordability housing crisis.

The Centre for London study 'Housing and Inequality in London' is here.


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Taxing the top - what history tells us about taxing the rich?

A really interesting book launch on 13th April, hosted by the Resolution Foundation. 'Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe' is by David Stasavage and Kenneth Scheve.

When and why do countries choose to tax the rich? How do the lessons of history compare to what is happening in the UK today? Do the richest in society need to pay more, or are they already sharing an unfair burden of the UK’s declining tax base? Great questions. At My Fair London meetings we often talk about how important it is to help people understand the changing nature of inequality over time.

The launch event starts at 5.30 and will include a presentation by the authors followed by discussion with Deborah Hargreaves from the High Pay Centre and Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.  The event is free (with refreshments) and any My Fair London members interested in attending can book tickets through the Resolution Foundation web site.


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UK premier of 'The Divide' announced

UK film premier - 'The Divide: what happens when the rich get richer'

The Divide tells the story of 7 individuals striving for a better life in modern day US and UK - where the top 0.1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%. By plotting these tales together, we uncover how every aspect of our lives is controlled by one factor: the size of the gap between rich and poor.

The premier is at the West End Picture House on Monday 11th April at 6.30 p.m.  Tickets are still available here.  After the screening Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of The Spirit Level, will be in discussion with the films director, Katherine Round.

The film's finance was partly raised through crowd sourcing and many members of My Fair London contributed.  Do come along and see how powerfully the film puts across the evidence that inequality is harming our society. If you can't make it to the premier don't worry, My Fair London will be arranging a special screening in May (date to be confirmed), and 'The Divide' web site includes listings of dozens of other screenings right across the country, as well as information on how to arrange your own screening.

'The Divide' will help us further promote the evidence that economic inequality is fundamentally harmful to our society, and that together we need to do something about it. 

'The Divide: what happens when the rich get richer?'


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London Fairness Commission final report launched

The London Fairness Commission has launched its final report.  At a well attended launch event at the National Theatre today three of the four Mayoral candidates took questions about the report and responded to its key findings. Sadiq Kahn, Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon (Labour, Green and Lib Dem respectively) all welcomed the report and committed to many of its recommendations.  Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith didn't show up and didn't send anyone to speak on his behalf. Commission Chair, Lord Victor Adebowale warned that unless the next Mayor makes tackling inequality, and reducing the unjust unfairnesses we see around us, the whole city will suffer.

The report contains a wide range of practical recommendations that would really help make our city a bit fairer.  It focusses particularly on housing - calling for the next Mayor to be given the power to set 'affordable rents' in the private sector, the suspension of right to buy in London, and new ideas on how to tax property owners or developers who keep properties empty.  The Fairness Commission also recommends there should be a London Minimum Wage, set to recognise the higher costs of living for workers in London, and that companies in London should be asked to publish their wage ratios - that is how much the boss gets paid compared to the average worker.  The Fairness Commission raises particular concerns about the lives of young Londoners, and how economic inequalities are making it almost impossible for ordinary young Londoners to live and work in their own city.  One suggestion is that the freedom pass should not be given to wealthy older Londoners, and the money saved should go on creating more opportunities for young Londoners.

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UK bosses pay out of control and unjustifiable

A set of reports showing how the top 1% are out of control, unaccountable, and not worth the money they are paid. Read the coverage in The Observer here.

Interesting that the London School of Economics, often a bastion of conventional economic theory, is beginning to make inequality, and the outrageous level of rewards taken by business leaders, a significant focus of its research.  Of course The Spirit Level and much other work show that these levels of inequality are harmful to society. With so many businesses headquartered  in London, we need to show the capital's business leaders that their collective greed is irritating the hell out of the rest of us!

At the same time new analysis from the JRF Foundation shows that the risk of experiencing childhood abuse and neglect is related to poverty. So the Government has cut top rates of tax for the rich and cut benefits for the poor. We will be launching My Fair London's manifesto for a fairer city shortly - calling on the next Mayor of London to find a different way.


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London Fairness Commission - launch of final report

The London Fairness Commission has announced that it will launch it's final report on 15th March.  My Fair London was the driving force behind the establishment of the London Fairness Commission, helping to raise funds for its work, and working with Toynbee Hall and other partners to set its terms of reference.  The Fairness Commission has held a series of public events and debates, and reviewed evidence on housing, employment, transport, education and young people, and many other important questions, to come up with a series of practical ways to make our city fairer. My Fair London hopes that the Commission's final report will highlight the gross economic inequality that blights our city, and outline a range of practical measures that the next Mayor of London can take to begin to make our city fairer once again.

The launch event, chaired by the Editor of the Evening Standard, is on 15th March from 12.30 to 2.30 p.m. at the National Theatre. Click here for more details and to book your place at the launch.

Although we haven't seen the Commission's final recommendations, My Fair London activists and supporters are strongly encouraged to attend the launch, to show our support for the commission and to see what they have come up with!

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London Assembly Economy Committee - London's Labour Markets Report

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Holding the Mayor to account and investigating issues that matter to Londoners


04 February 2016

London Assembly Economy Committee - London's Labour Markets Report

Please find attached a copy of the London Assembly Economy Committee’s report, The Hourglass Economy: An analysis of London's Labour Market. The report is the culmination of an investigation by the Committee, into the response of London’s labour market to the 2008 economic downturn. 

As the dust of the recession settles, the data indicates a strong recovery. However our investigation has revealed that, for some at least, the labour market now is a less positive place in which to work, than prior to the downturn. 

The report calls for clear action by the Mayor, and his successor, to improve:

  • skills, career prospects and job opportunities for Londoners;
  • job quality and contractual arrangements offered by London’s employers;
  • flexible working practices in the capital; and
  • the level of in-work poverty in the capital through furthering the impact of the London Living Wage.

You can find the report on our webpage, here. We hope that you will enjoy reading the report and that you will welcome and support its recommendations. 

Please feel free to promote the report via your own social networks. An example tweet you may like to use can be found here.

With very best regards,

London Assembly Economy Committee.


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In sickness and in wealth

In Sickness and in Wealth:

Sir Michael Marmot in conversation with Professors Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett
Introduced by Christina McAnea (UNISON, Head of Health)

Tuesday 1 March, 6.15pm – 8pm

UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY

In every country in the world, the higher you are on the social scale, the longer and healthier your life will be. In Britain, the average person would have eight extra years of healthy life if they had the same opportunities as the richest in our society. This social gradient is not inevitable, so what can governments do to address these dramatic and unjust health inequalities?

At this Equality Trust event, hosted by UNISON, Sir Michael Marmot will discuss the evidence from his latest book,The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World, with Spirit Level authors Professors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson. Together they will explore the political and policy implications of the research, and take questions from the audience.

Places for this event are free, but space is limited so please register here

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Inequality and A&E departments - more equality, fewer hospital admissions

An important, but depressing, new report has been published by the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York. The researchers have modelled the impact of our unfair society on the use of A&E departments and emergency attendances at hospital. They find that nearly half of all emergency hospital admissions are related to our unfair society. If we could move all households up to the income of the top 20 percent, that's a weekly income of £1,200 or above, we could avoid 158,000 emergency admissions annually. They found nearly 38,000 avoidable deaths associated with treatable conditions.  People in the poorest fifth of households in Britain are three times more likely to go to hospital than people in the richest fifth.

One of the biggest things we can do to help the NHS is to reduce inequality in Britain. Unfortunately the health harms reaped on us all by extreme inequality will take many years for our society to recover from.

The report is available at http://www.york.ac.uk/media/che/documents/policybriefing/Health%20Inequality.pdf

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Support Oxfam's call for action on extreme inequality

Oxfam have launched a petition asking David Cameron to take action to crack down on tax havens and the many other tax avoidance tricks used by multi-national corporations and the superrich. This is part of Oxfam's wider international campaign about inequality. They calculate that 62 people have as much wealth between them as 3,200,000,000, or half the world's population.  London as one of the leading centres of global finance, accounting and business must have a major part to play in rebalancing our world. The people at the very top are taking too much, and if you read Professor Sir Michael Marmot's book 'The Health Gap', you can see in detail how everyone, from rich to poor, would benefit from a more equal London, a more equal Britain, and a more equal world.

Oxfam's petition is here https://act.oxfam.org/great-britain/en

There's a good review of 'The Health Gap' here. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/review-the-health-gap-michael-marmot-bloomsbury

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