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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Falling Workless Households in London

London, along with other regions in the south of England, has a lower proportion of households (with at least one person aged 16-64) with no-one in work. Previously, London has had higher levels of workless households, but both the number and the proportion of such households have decreased with the proportion falling lower than the UK average since 2012.

At the same time, London has a lower than average proportion of its households where every household member aged 16 or over is in employment, but a higher, and generally increasing, proportion of households with mixed economic status.

Non-working adults in mixed and in workless households may be unemployed and looking for work or economically inactive, which may be for a variety of reasons. Among these are:

  • retired (either above or below state retirement age),
  • students (though students who are also employed would be included as working adults)
  • unable to work due to sickness or disability
  • caring responsibilities
  • looking after the home or family full-time.

As London’s households are more likely to be complex than those in other parts of the country, including perhaps three generations or older children staying at home for longer, the picture is far from simple.


Children in working or workless households

The number of London’s children in workless households has been falling sharply, reducing by around 150,000 in just five years. This is despite an overall increase in the number of children living in London, meaning that the proportion has fallen. The latest figures, for 2015, show that this proportion across London as a whole is now very close to the national average, at around one in eight children.

This decrease in the proportion of children living in households with no-one in work continues and amplifies the trend seen over the last two decades, though there was a slight increase for both Inner and Outer London during the recession. In 2006, one in four London children lived in a household with no one in work – the highest rate of any region.

Across Britain, the proportion has fallen since 2010 by more than 10 percentage points[1] in 25 local authority areas, 15 of them London boroughs, but Westminster stands out as retaining a high proportion.


Both the proportions in working households (all adults in work) and mixed households (working and non-working adults) have increased for London, though it remains the region with the lowest proportion of children living in households with all adults in work and the highest proportion of children in mixed households.

This note is based on data produced by the Office for National Statistics, released in their annual publication on working and workless households by region 28 September 2016

[1]Estimates for individual local authorities and in particular estimates of change for local authorities need to be treated with extreme caution, as the sample variability means they may not be reliable.