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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

The Survey of Londoners 2021-22 – understanding life after the initial stages of the pandemic

The City Intelligence Unit has published the headline findings from the Survey of Londoners 2021-22, a major social survey designed to assess the impact of COVID-19 and associated restrictions on key social outcomes for Londoners, not available from other data sources. It follows up on a similar survey that we undertook in 2018-19.

Over the last two years, we have been working with colleagues across the GLA to develop our understanding of the issues affecting Londoners during the pandemic. We realised that many of the issues that are most important to the current Mayor and to our city were poorly served by the existing evidence or had been rendered out-of-date due to the pandemic.

Thus, to fill these evidence gaps caused by the pandemic, we worked with NatCen Social Research, Britain’s leading independent research agency, to deliver the Survey of Londoners 2021-22. We had worked with them previously on delivering the Survey of Londoners 2018-19.

The survey has provided us with a rich dataset, covering many aspects of Londoners’ lives after the initial stages of the pandemic, as well as providing us with data that enables us to understand the distributional impact of inequality across the city in greater depth.

In particular, the survey highlights how Government support helped to ensure overall financial hardship did not increase in London from the time of the first survey of Londoners (2018-19) to the second in late 2021. However, inequalities grew, as these improvements were largely driven by the financial situations of higher-income Londoners, compared with lower-income Londoners.

For example, the Survey of Londoners 2021-22 found that 16 per cent of adults in London had low or very low food security, equivalent to 1.2 million adults, a reduction since 2018-19 when it was 21 per cent (1.5 million adults). However, while the proportion of the lowest-income Londoners (those with an annual income of less than £14,900) living with food insecurity remained at 44 per cent from 2018-2019 and 2021-2022, the proportion of all Londoners with a higher-income (those with an annual income of more than £14,900) in food insecurity fell from 16 per cent to 11 per cent.

The survey provides us with many more interesting results, which can be read about in the headline findings report. As well as chapters on financial hardship and a robust safety net, the report includes much broader data on labour market equality; strong communities; mental health and wellbeing; digital access for all; and equity in public services.

We have also produced a set of supplementary data tables, which provide further breakdowns of the key findings.

The Survey of Londoners 2021-22 took place just before the full effects of the cost-of-living crisis began to set in. As we are now many months on from when fieldwork took place, it is highly likely that the situations of Londoners have changed for the worse. The City Intelligence Unit is now leading on work looking at the at the spiralling cost-of-living and the challenges facing Londoners, including the rising poverty levels in the capital.