Five charts that London’s mayoral candidates need to see on living standards


It’s now less than four months to go till London’s mayoral elections. Given how important living standards issues like pay, jobs and housing are to Londoners, coming up with effective policies to tackle these challenges could make the difference in what’s set to be a tight race. Here are five charts that should be front and centre of the candidates’ minds in the run-up to May.

  1. The pay of typical Londoners is further below its pre-crisis level than anywhere else in the UK

2015 was the year that real wages starting growing again for most people in the UK, as pay finally outstripped inflation. But that positive national news concealed a more disappointing story in London, where hourly pay continued to fall in 2015.

Typical employee pay in London is still 12.4 per cent behind where it was pre-crisis. Of course, in cash terms Londoners still earn more than similar workers in other parts of the UK. But given the size of the fall and the length of the road to recovery, worries around earnings are still playing on the minds of many voters.


  1. London’s job machine is up-and-running but still lags much of the UK

In contrast to pay, the capital’s employment rate rose more quickly than any other part of the UK between 2008 and 2015. There’s still room for improvement though, with London’s employment rate lower than the UK average and well behind the best-performing regions. One challenge for mayoral candidates will be how to help more mothers and workers with low qualifications into work, who are less likely to be employed in the capital than elsewhere.


3. Typical incomes in London are now above their previous peak – but high housing costs mean post-housing incomes have fallen furthest in London

On the face of it, household incomes have recovered relatively well in London, moving ahead of their pre-crash level in 2013-14, well before many other regions. But that’s when we look at incomes before housing costs…

Once you account for housing costs, median household income in the capital is still 4.3 per cent its pre-crash level. Making housing more affordable isn’t easy but with polling showing that it’s the biggest issue for Londoners, it will be a priority.

median income region gif

4. One in every eight London households spend the majority of their income on housing costs

The situation is even worse for private renters, with one in four seeing more than half their income go on rent. With half of Londoners renting and home ownership a distant dream for many of them, the private rented sector is set to be a big topic for debate for the candidates.


5. The National Living Wage will help many low earners but it’s less of a big deal in London than elsewhere

The government’s new National Living Wage is set to boost the wages of almost a quarter of employees across the UK by the time it’s fully rolled out in 2020. And while more than half a million workers in London are in line for a pay rise as a result, the capital will be the least affected region, with only 15 per cent of employees projected to benefit. And with 19 per cent of Londoners earning less than the (higher) London Living Wage in 2014, the voluntary living wage remains as relevant as ever in the capital.


These aren’t the only pressing living standards issues facing Londoners – high childcare costs are another obvious one – but they are likely to be occupying the minds of many, both this year and in the next four years. The candidate who can convince Londoners they have the policies to address these issues will be in a strong position come May.