More peo­ple in work – but they are worse off

SO­CIAL HOUS­ING TRUST SAYS RES­I­DENTS ARE POORER, DE­SPITE UN­EM­PLOY­MENT DROP­PING TO 10.9%

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - QASIM PERACHA

ONE of Lon­don’s big­gest so­cial hous­ing trusts has found that de­spite more so­cial hous­ing ten­ants hav­ing jobs, they are worse­off than be­fore.

The inau­gu­ral sur­vey of 111,000 Pe­abody res­i­dents across the cap­i­tal found that de­spite the un­em­ploy­ment rate on its es­tates fall­ing to 10.9% in the first quar­ter of 2018, com­pared 14% in the same quar­ter the year be­fore, that house­holds are earn­ing less.

The Pe­abody In­dex, which is to be pub­lished ev­ery year, says that on av­er­age the in­come of their ten­ants has fallen by £400 over the year, show­ing the im­pact of low wages and the in­creased cost of liv­ing in the cap­i­tal.

Pe­abody says this growth in em­ploy­ment fol­lows a trend, with 88% of Lon­don­ers “eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive” in 2018’s first quar­ter, com­pared with 78% in the same quar­ter in 2008.

The hous­ing trust, founded more than 150 years ago, has es­tates in Hilling­don, Yead­ing, East­cote, Wem­b­ley, Willes­den, Kil- burn White City, North Kens­ing­ton, Queen’s Park, Shepherd’s Bush, two es­tates in East Ac­ton, May­fair, Ful­ham and Ham­mer­smith, three in Padding­ton , four in Chelsea, five in West­min­ster and six in Pim­lico .

The es­tate’s most com­mon pro­fes­sions in­cluded teachers and teach­ing as­sis­tants, child­min­ders, hospi­tal work­ers, bus driv­ers, con­struc­tion work­ers and car­ers.

Mean­while 8% of res­i­dents were em­ployed in zero-hour con­tracts, where em­ploy­ers are not obliged to pro­vide the worker with any set num­ber of hours of work. A fur­ther 3% worked as Uber driv­ers and De­liv­eroo rid­ers.

Weekly dis­pos­able in­come, which here means in­come af­ter taxes, for so­cial hous­ing ten­ants in the cap­i­tal was £406 per week in April 2018. This fig­ure is down 1.1% on July 2017, when the av­er­age was £413.

This equates to a £389 de­cline in real house­hold dis­pos­able in­come from July 2017 to April 2018.

As a re­sult, de­spite more ten­ants be­ing in work, more than one in 10 (13%) ad­mit to skip­ping meals, while 35% have cut back on heat­ing and 41% have made cuts to their food shop­ping.

Fur­ther con­cerns high­lighted in the Pe­abody In­dex in­clude the find­ings that more than 70% or ten­ants in so­cial hous­ing have no sav­ings or investments to fall back on, or rely on later in life.

Hun­dreds of res­i­dents sur­veyed were us­ing food banks, while some were hav­ing to use high-cost weekly pur­chase stores, us­ing pay­day loan providers who can charge ex­or­bi­tant in­ter­est rates, or even rely on loan sharks or un­li­censed len­ders in or­der to make ends meet.

Pe­abody Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Bren­dan Sars­field said: “Low-in­come Lon­don­ers are work­ing hard, do­ing jobs that lit­er­ally keep the city run­ning. They are the en­gine of growth, con­tribut­ing £15bn a year to the cap­i­tal’s econ­omy, yet more than half those sur­veyed are worse off than a year ago be­cause of low-wages, rising trans­port costs and the spi­ralling cost of liv­ing in the cap­i­tal.

“This trend rep­re­sents a real risk to Lon­don’s con­tin­u­ing growth and un­der­lines the need for more low-rent hous­ing. This would boost house­hold in­come and the econ­omy, putting more money back in the pocket of hard-work­ing Lon­don­ers.”

A vol­un­teer at Wandsworth food­bank pre­pares food parcels from their stores of do­nated food, toi­letries and other items

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