An overview of London’s boroughs

June 10, 2013 5:53 pm 0 comments Views: 503

In the table below, comparisons are made within London across 16 key poverty and inequality indicators. London’s 32 boroughs are divided into five groups – the Inner East & South, Inner West, Outer South, Outer West & North West, and the Outer East & North East.

The groups follow a statistical definition used by the European Union which places South London boroughs Southwark, Lewisham and Lambeth in the Inner East, which for the purpose of this site we have called Inner East & South. The analysis shows that these boroughs have more in common with their neighbours to the north and east than those to the south and west.

The four boroughs with the worst score on any particular indicator are shown in red, the four with the next worst score in dark orange, the eight with the next worst in light orange and the remaining 16 (which are therefore the better half) in beige. Therefore, the deeper the colour the greater the problems faced in the borough.

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The four boroughs with the worst score on any particular indicator are shown in red, the four with the next worst score in dark orange, the eight with the next worst in light orange and the remaining 16 (which are therefore the better half) in beige. Therefore, the deeper the colour the greater the problems faced in the borough.

Worst 4 boroughs – highest

Next 4 boroughs

Next 8 boroughs

Remaining 16 – below average

Low Income and benefits Low Pay Low educational attainment Ill Health Inadequate Housing
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Outer West and North West Barnet A A A A A B C A A A A A A A B A
Brent B B B A D C A B A D B B B B D B
Ealing B B B A B B B A A A A A A C B B
Harrow A A A A B C B A A B A A A A A A
Hillingdon A A A B A A A A B A A A B A B A
Hounslow A B A A C A A A A A B B B A A B
Richmond A A A A A A D A C A A A A A A A
Outer South Bromley A A A A A C C A A A A A A A A A
Croydon A A A B B B A B A C A A B A A A
Kingston A A A A A B D A B A A A A B A A
Merton A A A A A D A B D A A A A A A A
Sutton A A A A A B A A A A A A A A A A
Inner West Camden B B C D A A C B C A B C A A B D
Hammersmith & Fulham B B B B A A B A A A B A B A B C
Kensington & Chelsea A A A A A A D A A A A A A A A D
Wandsworth A A B A A A A B C A B A B A A B
Westminster A A A D A A D A B B A A A B C D
Inner East & South Hackney D D D D C A B D C C D D C C B C
Haringey C C C B B A A C D D C B C B D B
Islington C D D A A A B D D B C D C D A B
Lambeth B C C B B A B C B C D A D D B B
Lewisham B B B C B B A B B B B B D B C B
Newham D D D C D B A C A D D D A D D C
Southwark B C C B C A C D D D C B D C A C
Tower Hamlets D D D C A A B A B B D C A C D D
Outer East and North East Barking & Dagenham D C B C D A A B B A B D D A A A
Bexley A A A A B D A A A A A A A B A A
Enfield B B A B C C A B B B A B B B C A
Greenwich C B B D B A A D C B C C C B A A
Havering A A A A A D A A A A A B A A A A
Redbridge A A A B A B A A A B A B A A C A
Waltham Forest C B B A D D B C A C B C B D B A
1 Working-age benefit recipiency

2 Children in families in receipt of key out-of-work benefits

3 Pensioners receiving Guarantee Pension Credit

4 Working-age people who lack, but want, paid work

5 Low pay by residency

6 Low pay by place of work

7 Pay inequalities

8 Low attainment aged 11

9 Low attainment aged 16>

10 Infant mortality

11 Population aged less than 65 who die each year

12 Working-age people with a limiting long-standing illness

13 Underage pregnancies

14 Newly homeless households

15 Households in temporary accommodation

16 Household overcrowding

What does the table show?

Several things stand out. First, the two parts of Inner London are very different from one another. Problems are concentrated in the Inner East & South: a sea of red and orange with very little beige. Only low pay breaks the pattern. This is in marked contrast to the Inner West where the worst borough (Camden) would be comfortably the best in the Inner East & South. The Inner West certainly scores badly on housing and pay, but in general, the challenge is of a different order to that faced in the Inner East & South. A major flaw with any simple emphasis on Inner London is that it misses this.

Second, there is huge variation in Outer London, too. Individual boroughs face great challenges. For example, Brent’s record looks like that of a borough in the Inner East & South. But, overall, neither the Outer South nor the Outer West & North West are comparable even with the Inner West, never mind the Inner East & South. Nor are they comparable with the Outer East & North East. With the exception of housing, several boroughs in the Outer East, notably Barking & Dagenham, look like the Inner East & South.

What is most noticeable about the Outer East is that most boroughs which share a border with the Inner East & South – Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Barking & Dagenham and Enfield, have the most problems. So if there is a great divide in London, it is not between Inner and Outer or North and South, but rather between the Inner East & South along with some of its neighbours, and the rest.

It should also be noted that this area is not simply the old East End. Once believed to be the heart of what is meant by that term, Tower Hamlets is now the second best of the Inner East & South boroughs after Islington. In his biography of London, Peter Ackroyd had the East beginning at the Aldgate pump, about 150 metres from the City’s border with Tower Hamlets. But he also had the boundary extending north, from Bishopsgate via Shoreditch and Kingsland to Tottenham – which, after writing this report, seems to us to be the more significant.

Part of the reason for this is that with its very small resident population the City simply lacks the weight to make a telling contrast with Whitechapel. But Tottenham belongs to Haringey which also includes prosperous Highgate. One effect of this is that Haringey emerges as the most deeply divided of the 32 boroughs (for example, as measured by the high number of both rich wards and poor wards within its boundary). Haringey’s emblematic status goes further than that, for Highgate, sitting next to Hampstead Heath, is just about the northernmost tip of London’s rich inner bubble. In Haringey, the bubble and this Inner East & South meet.

It is vital to remember that there are always exceptions to any simple, general pattern.

For example:

  • Newham, along with two Outer East boroughs, does very well on our measure of GCSE performance; and
  • Every borough bar one – Richmond – contains at least one ward with an above-average level of working-age adults receiving out-of-work benefits.

Look closely at the relevant map and even Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster – perceived as very privileged – have parts that face challenges. Whatever generalisations are used, the fine-grained texture of London poverty must always be borne in mind.

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