Drug deaths hit their highest level for 15 years

heroin

The number of people killed by drug abuse in London is at its highest level this century.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 298 people died due to misuse of illegal substances in 2015, the highest number since 1999. It is also the highest death rate since the late 90s – 35 per million residents.

The rate of drug deaths has been increasing since 2012 after a downward trend this century from high points in the late 90s.  But although it has risen, the capital still has the second lowest mortality rate of all the regions in England and Wales. Only the East Midlands has a lower rate than London. The highest death rates are now in the North East, North West, Wales, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

Drug death rate regions-2

This is a turnaround from 1993, when the current data record begins.  London had the highest mortality rate and accounted for 23% of all deaths.  In 2015 that had halved to 12% of deaths as the problem of illegal drug misuse has become more widespread.

Drug death comparison-2

Across London, Haringey and central areas of Westminster, Lambeth, Southwark Camden, Islington and Tower Hamlets have that most serious problems.  The data at borough level is gathered for three-year periods due to very low numbers in some areas.  From 2013 to 2015, 43 people died in Haringey and 42 in both Westminster and Lambeth.

map drug deeaths 2015-2

There were fewer than 20 deaths in the period in most of the outlying boroughs, and in Merton, Barking and Dagenham and among the small population of the City of London the number of deaths was in single figures.

Source data

See also

Low drug-related death rates hide middle-aged heroin problem

Teenage survey finds that Richmond has highest level of cannabis use

Violence, disruption and drugs – why 20,000 pupils were excluded from school last year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoking on the rise in six boroughs but the city is stubbing out the habit

Smoking-2Against the general trend of both the city and the country, smoking has increased in six boroughs since 2012.

The latest data gathered by the Office for National Statistics through its large-scale Annual Population Survey reveals that the rate of smoking in 2015 compared to 2012 was up in Harrow, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

The biggest increase, of nearly 14%, was in Harrow, but the overall level of smoking remains low in the borough. Haringey, Newham and Tower Hamlets experienced an increase on rates that are among the highest in London.

smoking change 12-15-2

Although the increases are mostly small they are significant in the context of falling rates across the rest of the capital.  The average rate for London has gone down from 18.2% who said they were smokers in 2012 to 16.3% in 2015.  In Redbridge the rate fell by more than 30% over that period, according to the ONS figures. There were also steep declines in Brent and Bromley.

The data does not reveal the reason behind these changes.  It may be the consequence of changing habits or changes in the make up of the population in areas. It may be due to people aswering questions more honestly, as the survey relies on individuals to define themselves as smokers.

The rate of smoking in London is among the lowest for any region in England.  Across England 16.9% of people say that they are smokers. The rate is lower than that in 20 London boroughs.  The lowest rate in London is 11.5% in Redbridge, but it is nearly double that in Haringey where 22% of people said they smoked in 2015.  In five boroughs – Haringey, Lambeth, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham –  two or more in every ten people smoke.

Smoking rates-2

Apart from Redbridge, Richmond, Brent and Bromley all have a rate of smoking at around 12% or lower.

There are a number of measures of smoking carried out across the country.  A survey at GP surgeries of people over 15 carried out over two year periods found the level of smoking in London fractionally higher in 2014/15 than the most recent ONS data, It also recorded small rises in a handful of boroughs.

Source data

See Also

Police taking a relaxed approach to ban on smoking in cars

Low birth weight babies in Tower Hamlets 60% above London average

Teenage survey finds that Richmond has highest level of cannabis use

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cycle hires hit a record monthly high

Santander bike Chris Warham shutterstock_307029647-2

Photo: Chris Warham | Shutterstock

July 2016 was the most successful month for Santander Cycle hire since the bike-sharing scheme was first introduced in 2010.

A record 1.18 million bikes were hired across London last month, an average of 38,000 hires a for each day of the month.  The data from Transport for London shows that on three days, 19th, 30th and 31st of July there were more than 46,000 hires. The average hire time was 23 minutes.

The monthly total beats the previous record for July 2014 by 5,200.  Summer months always prove the most popular times and monthly hires were also over one million in May and just under in June.  The number of hires in January and February this year was around half the July total.

The city bike scheme was introduced on 30th July 2010. In the first two days 12,000 bikes were hired and in the first month 340,000 as the scheme was rolled out across the boroughs and the docking stations became a familiar sight on the streets.

The data shows that the most popular day in the scheme’s six-year existence was 9th July last year when 73,000 bikes were hired.  On the 6th August that year the second highest total was recorded of 64,000.

Mainline stations are the popular hire points, as previously reported by Urbs, as commuters arriving from outside London and make their way to work in the morning and afternoon rush hours.

But the hire data at major landmarks and parks also suggests that tourists may be the biggest users of the bikes, with routes across Hyde Park among the most popular. The data shows that weekends see the largest usage and the most popular weekday for hire is a Thursday.

The bike sharing scheme was introduced by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor and the bicycles  became known as Boris bikes despite a sponsorship deal with Barclays.  Santander took over sponsorship of the scheme last year, but the bikes have not gone on to be re-named Sadiq cycles.

Source data

See also

Tourists biggest users of Boris Bikes

Americans back on top as London’s biggest visitors

How London compares for the cost of public transport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratio reveals the most affordable place to buy a home

terrace on hil-2The most affordable borough to buy a home in London is Barking and Dagenham.  A house in this area in the east of London costs a fraction more than seven times local annual earnings.

Barking and Dagenham is the only borough in London with a ratio that is below the average for England. Across England the median house price is 7.49 times the salary for a full time job.

The ratio is calculated by the Department of Communities and Local Government using median house prices rather than the average to avoid distortion due to highs and lows.  These are then compared to median wages locally.

According to this calculation the most affordable boroughs other than Barking and Dagenham are mostly in Outer London.   The median house price is less than 10 times salary in Bexley, Havering, Croydon and Hounslow, and in the Inner London borough of Tower Hamlets.

The least affordable places are central and west London boroughs including Wandsworth, Richmond, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster. But at the top of the scale is Kensington and Chelsea, where the median house price was nearly 40 times the median salary in 2015.

Since the start of the century the ratio in the royal borough has gone up by 178%.  And a similar dramatic change, from lower levels, has happened in Hackney and Waltham Forest, where the ratio has gone from around five times salary to 15 and 13 respectively since 2000.

The change from 2014 to 2015, the most recent years recorded, was highest in Redbridge where the ratio changed by 17% from a little over 10 times salary to just over 12.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the ratio actually fell by 6%, and in Westminster it came down by 1%.

Median House Price to Earnings Ratio 2015
Kensington and Chelsea 39.67
Westminster 24.16
Hammersmith and Fulham 22.33
Camden 19.46
Richmond upon Thames 18.07
Wandsworth 17.68
City of London 17.11
Islington 16.32
Hackney 15.23
Harrow 14.71
Barnet 14.28
Merton 14.27
Ealing 14.25
Haringey 14.11
Kingston upon Thames 13.83
Brent 13.67
Lambeth 13.08
Waltham Forest 13.02
Southwark 12.85
Bromley 12.42
Redbridge 12.21
Enfield 11.64
Lewisham 11.15
Sutton 10.90
Greenwich 10.75
Hillingdon 10.29
Newham 10.12
Hounslow 9.88
Croydon 9.83
Havering 9.78
Bexley 9.41
Tower Hamlets 9.00
Barking and Dagenham 7.19

Source data

See also

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

The homes affordability crisis

The Housing Shortage

 

 

Falling numbers for free school meals but rates still among highest in country

children legsThe number of pupils claiming free school meals is continuing to fall in London. However, there is a greater proportion of children in nursery, primary and secondary schools claiming free lunches here than in many other parts of the country.

New data from the Department of Education shows that nearly 17% of London pupils are receiving free school meals in nurseries and primaries – more than two percentage points higher than the average in England.

Only the North East and West Midlands regions have a higher proportion of youngsters on the free meal scheme.  In Tower Hamlets and Hackney more than a third of under 11s are receiving free meals. The Merseyside borough of Knowsley is the only local authority with a higher rate.

In Southwark, a fifth of children are claiming free meals, a slight increase on last year.  But the numbers are down in Lewisham and Westminster, and the largest decrease took place in Islington where 29% of pupils are claiming school meal benefits, down from 38% last year, but still the third highest rate in the capital.

Free school meals primary

The trend is similar among secondary school pupils. On average, 13% of children over 11 are on the free meal scheme across England. The rate is similar in Outer London but significantly higher within inner London, with more than 40% in Tower Hamlets and 30% in Hackney and Islington. In Camden and Lambeth it is around a quarter of secondary school children.

Free school meals secondary-2

London varies hugely with outer areas pushing the capital average down.  Boroughs in the South West score as low or lower than many other parts of the country, with both Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames averaging less than 9% for students below the age of 16 claiming free school meals.

Free school meals are available to children from families who are claiming other types of benefit for unemployment or low income.  In 2013 the government extended the scheme so that all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at state primary schools, ie all children under 8, receive free meals.  From year 3 onwards families must register and make a claim.

Entitlement to free school meals is commonly used as an indicator for children living in poverty. But many who are entitled to the benefit do not claim, a reluctance sometimes attached to social stigma. In London this year 215,000 children are judged to be eligible but only 180,000 are receiving free meals.

Source data

See also

105,000 extra secondary pupils pose huge challenge for capital’s schools

85% of children in private school in one area of West London

Schools data reveals ethnic mix with fall in proportion of white British pupils

 

Unemployment down but what’s really happening in job market?

shutterstock_131096951-1-2The unemployment rate in London fell slightly in the last quarter but the city still has the second highest rate of joblessness in the UK at 5.9%. Behind this headline rate is a more complex picture of the jobs market in the capital.

The unemployment rate for the whole of the UK for January to March this year was 5%, the lowest level since 2005, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.  At 5.9% London has the second highest rate along with Yorkshire and Humberside and only the North East of England has a higher rate – 7.3%.

This means 280,000 people in London are without work.  But only 85,000, of them are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, the benefit for the unemployed.

Despite having one of the highest unemployment rates, the benefit claimant rate is among the lowest in the country.  Only the South East and the East of England have lower proportions of benefit claimants and these regions also have the lowest unemployment rates.

Yorkshire and Humberside has the same unemployment rate as London but 2.8% claiming benefits compared to 1.8% in the capital.

Uemployment and claimants

There are a number of reasons for the difference between unemployment and benefit claimants. Many of them will be common for the country, some of them may be more peculiar to London.

The most obvious difference between the two rates is who is included. The unemployment figures include all those able to work between the ages of 16 and 64 but those under 18 are, in most circumstances, excluded from claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. In London this accounts for 9,000 people in the unemployed numbers.

Part time work is also a factor.  People working more than 16 hours per week cannot claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.  This may exclude people working in unpredictable and short term, part time jobs who may be unemployed for periods but not eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance. People on zero-hours contracts may also be impacted by this.

The residence qualification may also be a factor, particularly in London.  To claim Jobseeker’s Allowance a person must be resident in the UK for at least 3 months. London has a high number of young workers from the EU, particularly southern Europe.  They would not be eligible to claim benefits when they first arrive to start seeking work.

The other key factor is the natural churn of the workforce.  The unemployment figures include people who have found work but not yet started. A number who are between jobs will not go through the process of making a claim for benefits.

London is the leading place in the UK for job creation. Since December 55,000 new jobs have been created. Over the same period the number of people who are economically active and available for work has risen by 50,000.

The Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility have a target rate of 5% for sustainable unemployment – the rate at which people who want a job have one and any lower rate may mean wage inflation.

London may be approaching ‘peak job’ but what may matter more to employers and employees are the quality of the jobs, the wages and the productivity.

Source data

See also

Jobs growth brings decade-high employment rate for young people

Success of creative industries is good news for jobs growth in the capital

Over 750,000 jobs pay less than the living wage in the capital

 

Single mothers in London are biggest group hit by benefits cap

children legs

Single parents have been the hardest hit since the benefits cap was introduced two years ago. More than 20,000 in London have had their weekly benefits cut.

The impact on lone parents has been felt more in London, where 62% of capped households are single parents, compared with 56% across the country. Nine out of ten lone parents are women.

Single parent households capped-2

The benefits cap was introduced in April 2013.  It limits the total weekly support to £500 for a couples, with or without children, and single parents. For individuals without a child it is £350. The weekly allowance includes income support, jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and child benefit.

Many regions of the country have higher rates of people claiming out of work benefits than London yet 45% of the households capped over the last 2 years have been in capital. The benefits bill in London is pushed up by housing benefits claims that result from high rental costs.  90% of the families with two or three children that have been capped are in London. Elsewhere in the country it is easier for a family of this size to rent a home without housing benefit.  Outside London it is mostly larger families, with four children or more who are losing benefits.

The majority of households capped in London lost £50 or under from their weekly benefits but 119 have had £400 or more taken out of their claim.  Most of these were in Brent and Ealing, the two boroughs that saw most households capped.  The fewest capped households are in the more affluent areas in the south west of the city.

Benefits cap map-2

More families are likely to see their benefits cut this autumn when the cap is lowered. Currently a family can claim up to £26,000 a year. This will be reduced to just under £23,000 or £442 per week.

Source data

See also

 

Elderly show wealth divide – 75,000 not claiming pension, more rely on benefits

Families face the biggest premiums for renting homes in the capital

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

 

It’s been a long time coming, so who’ll be aboard the Night Tube?

tube coming to station-2

The dispute about the Night Tube has has led to strikes causing misery for millions of Londoners.  It will be introduced this summer, but a poll by the Greater London Authority has found that a quarter of Londoners say they’ll never use it.

The GLA asked 1,000 people from across the capital their views on the Night Tube in a quarterly survey it carries out to canvas views about a range of issues.  The poll found that 26% said they would never use the service and that jumps to more than a third when those who say they would use it less than once or twice a year are added.

Those who will never use it outnumber the hard core party animals it seems.  18% of those surveyed said they’d use the service every weekend which includes 8% of those surveyed who’d use it every Friday and Saturday.

Not surprisingly, the figures on intended use look very different when broken down into age groups.  60% of over 65s say they’ll never use it and 43% of those 55-64.  But for younger people looking to enjoy their night out well into the early morning it’s a different picture. 49% of 18-24s say they’ll catch it every weekend, and for 25-34s it’s a massive 70%.

People in inner London are more likely to use the service than those in outer areas, and Asian people emerged from the survey with the lowest appetite for the service – 68% said they would ever catch a Night Tube compared to 85% of black people surveyed.

The service was due to start running last September but has been delayed by the dispute between Transport for London and the unions over pay, working hours and staffing. TfL is yet to confirm a start date but the Mayor, Boris Johnson, has said that it will start running at the end of July.

The service will run round the clock on Fridays and Saturdays on five lines – Jubilee and Victoria and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

Night-Tube-Map-officia_622

Night Tube Map: Transport for London

While there is a clear age division on taking the Night Tube there was a lot more agreement on its benefits. 80% said that it would have a positive impact on London’s night time economy and 82% that it would be a good for those going to work overnight.  London’s reputation as a 24-hour city will be enhance by the service according to 89% of those surveyed.

But there were also some negatives. 46% are concerned about an increase in anti-social behaviour and 41% are worried about noise.

The survey was conducted by telephone with a representative sample of Londoners on the 11-18th March by ICM on behalf of the GLA.

Source data

See also

Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains

Strikes are a commuting disaster, but what delays your daily Tube journey?

How London compares for the cost of public transport

 

 

Primaries cope with the birth bulge but pressure on places will soon shift east

Empty class OlegDoroshin shutterstock_243207280-1-2

Photo: Oleg Doroshin | Shutterstock

The competition for primary school places is always nerve-wracking for parents and this year was potentially the toughest yet.  A birth rate bulge in 2011/12 meant that there were more children than ever before applying for a place in reception starting in September.  But London schools appear to have coped.

Provisional figures from the Pan London Admissions Board show that when offers went out to anxious parents on 18th April about 84% received their first choice, up 1% on 2015. 93% were offered a place in one of their top three choices out of up to six schools they were asked to list on the application form.

But for more than 3,000 kids and their parents who were offered no place at their preferred schools there’s an anxious wait to see where they’ll be going in September.

Primary schools in London received 103,329 applications this year, according to the Pan London Admissions Board.  The school age population of London is growing at twice the rate of any other region of the country and forecasts from the GLA suggest the the 677,000 children attending state primaries in London will rise by 60,000 over the next decade.

The full data on places for this year is yet to be released but some provisional figures show that only 68% of children in Kensington and Chelsea got their first choice and 72% in Hammersmith and Fulham.

The GLA forecasts show that the pressure on places will shift eastwards in the coming years with greatest demand for places in Tower Hamlets – nearly 7000 extra.  Kensington and Chelsea is the only borough where demand will fall.

Primary school demand

The ongoing problem for pupils, parents, schools and local authorities is that population growth presents not just a difficulty in finding a first primary place but has a knock on across the school years, as reported by Urbs.

The GLA has forecast that London will need the equivalent of 90 new secondary schools over the next decade to cope with the growth in pupil numbers.  Primary school places may be a problem but secondary school places provide the bigger challenge as building these schools takes longer and is more expensive due to the size and facilities required.

Source data

See also

Fight for reception gets tougher as more kids swell primary school demand

105,000 extra secondary pupils pose huge challenge for capital’s schools

34,000 pupils could be without a secondary school place in next 5 years

 

Half of fire brigade call outs are false alarms and hospitals are repeated culprits

© Michaelpuche | Dreamstime.com - Fire Service. Photo-2Some of London’s leading hospitals are calling out the fire brigade the equivalent of 3 times a week with false alarms.

Fire Officers arrived at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead 120 times last year only to find out it was a false alarm, according to data from the London Fire Brigade.  St George’s University Hospital in Tooting recorded 111 false alarm incidents.

This has been a consistent problem for a number of years.  The data shows that in 2013 St George’s had 138 false alarms, rising to 165 in 2014. The Royal Free recorded 137 in 2014 and 141 in 2013.  Each time at least 2 fire engines were sent to the hospital.

While these 2 hospitals have the poorest record for bogus alerts others also seem to have a problem. The figures for last year show 63 incidents at the Homerton University Hospital in Hackney, 57 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, 48 at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield and 46 at University College Hospital on the Euston Road.

London hospitals were responsible for 1,181 false alarms in 2015, and this has been an improvement.  In 2014 it was 1,718 incidents and in 2013, 2,407.

The London Fire Brigade charges £295 for each false alarm if there are more than 10 incidents in a year, so hard-pressed hospitals are paying tens of thousands of pounds each year.

False alarms have a huge impact on the costs and resources of the London Fire Brigade. Last year it dealt with 95,540 incidents and nearly half of them were false alarms.

Most are incidents at family homes, followed by sheltered housing and blocks of flats.  Offices accounted for 3,428 incidents, or 7%, and shops were to blame for nearly 4%. While hospitals make up just 2.5% of the total number last year it is the repeated call outs that are striking.

The vast majority are triggered by alarm systems and recorded by the London Fire Brigade as AFAs (automated false alarms).  Many alarm systems are monitored by the manufacturer or service provider who alert the fire brigade when one goes off.  This is often caused by a malfunction.

The London Fire Brigade says that dealing with AFAs reduces its capacity to deal with real emergencies and can interrupt training or community safety work.

Source data

See also

Fire brigade dealing with weekly call outs to lift obese people

A fifth of the blazes tackled by fire fighters are started on purpose

Fire service is called to rescue hundreds of cats and it costs thousands