Of more than a thousand Londoners surveyed, 64% said life in the capital had gotten worse over the past four years, while just 7% said it had gotten better. Almost a third are less satisfied with life in London since the pandemic, showing the impact of lockdown on life in the city. Dissatisfaction is highest in the middle age group (25-49), but younger people are most likely to have plans to leave the capital soon; Overall, 19% plan to move out in the next two years, and among 18-24 year olds even 29%.
When asked how best to make London a ‘more livable’ city, people highlighted the need for more affordable housing (51%), tackling anti-social behavior (38%), lower taxes (31%), better air quality (25%), more social housing (23%) and better public transport (22%). Researchers say the results reflect long-standing concerns about housing and the cost of living in the capital.
Although 42% think their local council is doing a good job, compared to 35% who think they are doing poorly, councilors up for election in May cannot expect an easy path. Londoners are broadly unhappy with the prospect of council tax hikes, with 64% saying it is unwarranted, compared to 20% who think so. This follows decisions by most London councilors to increase council tax by 2.99% and the mayor to increase the GLA bid by a record-breaking 8.8%, meaning the average home in the capital alone in council tax will cost almost £2000 a year.
dr Patrick Diamond, Professor of Public Policy at Queen Mary and Director of the Mile End Institute, commented: “Most Londoners are satisfied with the performance of their council, which is a sign of trust in London local government. However, the municipalities will face a real challenge in the next four years. The reluctance of Londoners to pay more council tax means local leaders will face difficult decisions on how to fund the services residents need while also addressing quality of life concerns.”
Most (58%) Londoners believe the capital is a safe place to live, but new research shows they have limited trust in the police, who are tasked with making sure this is the case. Around half (49%) said they had little or no trust in the Met, rising to 52% for Londoners and 54% for ethnic minority Londoners.
Around two-thirds believe the Met is institutionally racist and sexist, showing the uphill battle a new commissioner faces. Overall, 63% labeled the Met as sexist, rising to 67% for ethnic minorities and 68% for women. Similarly, 64% said the Met was racist, rising to 68% for women and 72% for ethnic minorities.
Many (45%) said Mayor Sadiq Khan was right to withdraw his support for Cressida Dick; only 23% said they made the wrong decision and 32% weren’t sure. Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups in London were more likely to support the Mayor’s decision, with 50% in favor of withdrawing his support, leading to Dick’s resignation. Younger Londoners were also more supportive.
Farah Hussain, a research fellow at Queen Mary and Labor councilor in London’s Redbridge, said: “It is clear that women and ethnic minorities in London do not have a lot of trust in the police who are supposed to protect them. The Met has a lot to do to build that trust and convince Londoners it has their best interests at heart – and this is giving councilors plenty to think about ahead of any election in two months time.
“Between the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer; the condemnation of Met officers for their handling of the bodies of murdered Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman; the revelations of bullying, discrimination, racist and sexist behavior at Charing Cross Police Station; the longer-term issues of racism within the Met… the next commissioner will have a hard time convincing Londoners that they can fix the Met’s broken culture and make it a force the community can trust.”
Research also suggests younger Londoners and people from minority ethnic backgrounds are at higher risk of Covid due to vaccine hesitancy. While the vast majority (70%) of people in the capital are fully vaccinated, rates drop to about half (55%) among Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and even lower among 18-24 year olds (46% ). . Most (70%) said they would be likely to have future Covid vaccines if recommended, but this number is also falling among younger and minority ethnic groups (58%).
The biggest obstacles for people taking the Covid vaccine are distrust and misinformation, rather than religious beliefs. Of those who have not yet received the vaccine, 43% said they don’t trust the vaccine, while 39% believed they did not need it and 22% believed they were already immune because they already had the virus. Only 3% gave religious reasons, while 17% rejected vaccinations in general.
Prof Sophie Harman, Queen Mary’s Professor of International Politics, said: “Vaccine hesitancy does not just go away over time – it is rooted in issues of trust, information sources and inequalities in society and healthcare. The success of the UK’s launch of the Covid-19 vaccine mitigates some aspects of vaccine hesitation, but not all. More needs to be done to understand why people are reluctant, and not to patronize or insult them, but to engage them in ways that encourage vaccine uptake.
“What is worrying about this new data is the possible shift from vaccination hesitancy to vaccination satisfaction, where people do not see the need to be vaccinated. The idea of Covid being over in the UK lowers the stakes; Those who fought back against the vaccine may think they’re over the worst, so why now? The data from this survey could be a worrying canary for future vaccine satisfaction.”
The survey also found that revelations about Downing Street parties in lockdown had had some impact on people’s willingness to follow government restrictions and social distancing rules. Should it emerge that the Prime Minister did break the law, most Londoners (61%) said they would continue to abide by the rules, but a significant number (22%) conceded they were less likely to do so would do.
dr Patrick Diamond added: “While most Londoners remain willing to continue to make sacrifices to deal with further waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, our findings show that more than a fifth would be less likely to follow further social distancing measures if the Prime Minister found will have violated ban rules. This may well mean future waves of the virus are less likely to be contained and the NHS could come under increased pressure.”
The research also shows a strong belief that outer London is less well served by government and public services. 35% said inner London is treated better than outer London, while 13% think outer London is treated better and 25% believe they are treated the same. Interestingly, more people living in central London believe they are treated better than those living in the greater London area (30%) than believe they are treated the same (27%).
Over the next four years, Londoners said they would like their local government to prioritize tackling crime and anti-social behavior (56%), build more social housing (41%), improve cleaning and waste management (38%) and in investing in social welfare (35%) and improving the structure of their local high street (30%).
People are largely opposed to increasing public transport fares, with 7 in 10 (69%) unwilling to pay more for buses, trains and the tube. Almost half (45%) support the introduction of low-traffic areas or ‘LTNs’, but there has been greater opposition from older people (about half of those over 50 were against LTNs) and from those in outskirts of London.
Ahead of May’s London local elections, Labor’s position has strengthened marginally since 2018, but many local governments look unlikely to swap hands; 34% of Londoners intend to vote Labor while 17% will vote Conservative, compared with 38% and 23% respectively at the last election in 2018.