January 14, 2020

West London as a Region

West London holds a unique position between central London, Heathrow Airport and the wider Thames Valley and South East England. It has a population of over 2 million, and its £73 billion economy is the second largest in the UK – behind only central London.

West London can create more thriving, connected and sustainable places for communities. Building on the potential of nationally significant projects such as HS2 and its proposed station at Old Oak Common as well as more locally transformative projects such as the West London Orbital, the area has an ambitious pipeline of projects to maintain its claim of being “the world’s most connected place”.

But if West London’s future growth is to be realised, action is required now to ensure we make the best use of its scarce land to unlock new housing and employment, and to deploy the right infrastructure to support both existing and new communities.

Hounslow is a west Outer London borough which performs close to the London average on most indicators. Unemployment, income inequality, poverty, infant mortality, affordable housing and homelessness acceptances in Hounslow are all close to the middle of the range for London boroughs. Low pay is higher than the London average though: 24% of Hounslow’s working residents do not earn the Living Wage, compared to 22% of working Londoners.

Ealing is a borough in Outer West London which has had growing issues of poverty and inequality in recent years. On an average across a suite of London’s Poverty Profile data, Ealing is the worst performing borough on the west half of London. 27% of employees living in Ealing are low-paid, which is significantly above the London average of 22%, and private rent for low earners is less affordable than the London average (when compared to low earners’ salary).

However, although many indicators in Ealing are worse than the London average, it is not among the worst boroughs for any given indicator. Ealing has a fairly low premature mortality rate, with 470 deaths per 100,000 people aged 55 – 64.

Hillingdon is an Outer west London borough, and the second largest by area after Bromley. Our analysis of poverty and inequality data suggests that Hillingdon is close to or better than London averages on most issues. Its poverty rate is 22.4% (below the London-wide figure of 27%) and the unemployment ratio (4.2%) has fallen significantly in the past three years to just below the London-wide rate (4.9%). 24% of working Hillingdon residents are low-paid compared to 22% across London.

However, Hillingdon struggles more with education indicators. 38.7% of 19 year olds and 39% of adults do not have level 3 qualifications (A level equivalent) – both above the London average.

Harrow is an outer London borough in the north west of the capital. It is an ethnically diverse area, with nearly two thirds of its population from BME communities. Harrow’s strongest indicator is young people’s qualifications: less than a quarter of 19 year olds (24.9%) do not have Level 3 qualifications (A level equivalent) – the lowest rate in London.

However, Council Tax for low earners in Harrow has risen by £384 since the law changed in 2013 – the highest of any London borough. And Harrow is one of only two boroughs where the amount of affordable housing has decreased. There are 102 fewer affordable homes in Harrow than there were in 2013.

Brent is a north west, Outer London borough. It is generally a poor area, with 33% of households living in poverty, and 31% of employees earning less than the London Living Wage – a higher rate than any other borough except Newham. Private rent is very expensive relatively to local low earnings – only Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Camden have more expensive lower quartile rent compared to lower quartile salary. With low earners spending so much on housing, it is not surprising that people are evicted in Brent at a higher rate than any borough except Enfield.

On a positive note, 30% of new housing completions in Brent were affordable in the 3 years leading up to 2015/2016, which is well above the London average. Brent also has the lowest proportion of temporary accommodation placed outside their borough, with 96% of temporary placements being found within Brent.

Kensington & Chelsea
is an inner London borough, the smallest borough in London, and one of the most densely populated areas in the country. It has areas of both great affluence and of poverty: income inequality is higher here than any other borough by a considerable margin. Private rent for low earners is the most expensive compared to local low earnings (it is the only borough where monthly rent for low earners is higher than their monthly salary). It performs better on health indicators, with the second lowest premature mortality rate in London. 29% of children in Kensington & Chelsea are living in poverty, compared to 37% of all London children.

Hammersmith & Fulham
is an Inner west London borough which has great affluence. It has the lowest unemployment ratio in London at 3.46%, having fallen from 5.7% in 2011-2013 (which was only the 8th lowest rate). Hammersmith & Fulham also one the lowest percentages of low-paid residents at 16%, as well as the greatest decrease in low paid residents in the past three years.

Despite this, poverty is a problem in Hammersmith & Fulham, with the 30.5% poverty rate above the London average of 27%. It gained only 5 new affordable homes between 2013 and 2016, and even the cheapest rents are more expensive than in most other boroughs. Premature mortality is worse in Hammersmith & Fulham than in any other borough.