Borough Profile: Merton

People

There are 207,141 people living in Merton, that’s 2.4% of the 8.6 million Londoners.

The average age of the population is 36.6 years old, that’s 0.7 years older than the London average. The under 16s in the borough outnumber the over 65s. Children and young people under 16 make up 21% of the population compared to 12% for the over 65s.

People who are black, Asian or of minority ethnic origin, BAME, represent 37% of the residents. 41% of the people living in Merton were born abroad. The largest migrant group according to the last census is from Poland and makes up 4% of the population. The second largest group, based on the census is from Sri Lanka. More recently the largest number of migrants have come from Poland and Romania.

Housing

The median house price in the borough is £385,000.   Owner occupiers outnumber those who rent with 22% owning their home outright and a further 33% with a mortgage compared to 29% who rent privately and a further 16% living in social housing rented from the council or a housing association.

The council tax on a Band D property (the mid-tier cost in most local authorities) is £1,401.

Crime

The crime rate in Merton is 60 crimes per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the London average of 84 and is among the lowest in the capital.

The Area

Merton covers an area of 3,763 hectares compared to the biggest borough, Bromley, which covers more than 15,000. The smallest borough, not counting the City of London, is Kensington and Chelsea, which covers around 1,200 hectares.

Some 35% of the area is classified as green space. The average for London is 38%.

Work

The employment rate in the Merton is above the national average with 79% of people in work. The median annual salary for men is £36,765 and for women it is lower at £30,290.  The median income for a household in the borough is £57,160.

The workforce is among the highest qualified in London with 58% of workers who are educated to degree level or above. 5% have no qualifications and 4% of young people under 25 are listed as NEETS (that’s not in education, employment or training).

Transport

There are 72,777 cars in the borough, which equates to 0.9 cars per household.  Merton is rated as below average for public transport, based on an index compiled by Transport for London. According to Government data on physical activity, 19.4% of people cycle each month.

Health and Well-being

Men living in Merton can expect to live until they are 80, for women life expectancy is 84 years. The borough has a death rate from what are considered to be preventable causes of 161.8 per 100,000 people. The national rate for England is 182.

Other health indicators show that 6% of people over 17 suffer from diabetes and 22% of children are classified as obese.

When asked in a Government survey to rate their satisfaction with life the average score of people in the borough was 7.3 out of 10, which is below average for London.

See other borough profiles

Source Data

 

Diabetes in Merton

Merton has one of the lowest rates of diabetes in London but the number of sufferers will go up by 4,782 in the next 20 years, placing pressure on local health services, according to Public Health England.

There are currently 13,578 people with diabetes in the area, up by 254 on last year. Some 8.2% of all the people living in Merton have the condition, which is below the national rate of 8.6%. But forecasts by PHE, a government agency, show that by 2020 the rate will have gone up to 8.4% and in 2035 will hit 9.3%.

Diabetes 2035

The agency based its predictions on health surveys carried out over three years and focused on people over the age of 16. PHE says that around 90% of the new cases will be Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by lifestyle factors and linked to obesity. It says these cases are preventable and tackling the problem is fundamental to the future of the health service.

The increased prevalence of the condition coincides with a rise in the population of the capital in the coming decades. There will be 895,489 diabetes sufferers across London’s 33 boroughs by 2035, and 2.1% of them will live in Merton .

Diabetes is caused by the inability of the body to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. It is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Sufferers may also develop kidney disease and foot ulcers, which can lead to amputation.

Source data

More diabetes stories

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the South West was won – Khan shifted his own backyard to Labour

Khan Goldsmith 2-2.jpegIn his campaign to become Mayor Sadiq Khan seldom missed an opportunity to drop into his speeches that he was a bus driver’s son from Tooting.

The detailed breakdown of votes from the election shows how that ‘local boy’ status helped him secure the job by taking traditional Tory territory in South West London.

Merton and Wandsworth are boroughs that could previously be relied upon to vote for a Conservative Mayor.  They helped form the doughnut of outer London Conservative blue around the Labour red of central London on the political map.  But in last month’s poll, the jam squirted out of the political doughnut in this corner of London.

The borough of Wandsworth proved an intriguing backyard battleground for the local boy from Tooting.  His Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, managed to win 11 of the 20 wards and was ahead in postal votes from the borough.  But Sadiq Khan took 9 wards compared to the 5 won by Labour’s Ken Livingstone in 2012. In his home neighbourhood of Tooting he increased the Labour share of the vote from 53% to 66%.  He did the same in the Graveney ward, and in Furzedown took the share up to 69%.

Although taking fewer wards, Khan won the battle for votes taking 42% of first preferences to Goldsmith’s 40% in the borough.  But Wandsworth demonstrates not just how Khan increased the Labour vote but how Goldsmith lost the broader contest.

The Conservative candidate lacked the popular appeal of Boris Johnson, who in 2012 managed to win 53% of first preference votes in the borough.

In the neighbouring borough of Merton there was a direct turnaround in political fortunes.    In 2012, Johnson won the borough and secured 44% of first preference votes with Ken Livingstone scoring 37%.   Last month, Zac Goldsmith’s share sank to the Livingstone level, 36%, against 42% of first preferences for Khan.

The battle for Mayor was largely won through the large Labour vote in central area, as previously reported by Urbs. But the switch in the South West shows how the local boy factor may have helped some Conservative inclined voters to lean left.

Source data

See also

Left turn – the election shows further shift in the way the capital votes

How London’s population boom helped Sadiq Khan to victory

The election in numbers

Mayoral Election Issues: The Housing Shortage

roofer colourThe population is 8.6 million and the city is struggling with a shortage of housing.  Sounds familiar?  While this describes London today it also portrays the capital in the late 1930s.

After a post-war decline, the population has just got back to the 30s peak and a housing crisis has come back too.  So what has happened to house building in the intervening years? How did London find itself with a similar problem?

First, a bit of urban history. The shape of the capital has changed. In 1939 far more people lived in central London – 4.4 million lived in inner boroughs while 4.1 lived in outer ones[1].  The most highly populated areas were Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth, and can be seen as the darker areas on the map.

House bulding map 1-2

By 2015, the population of inner boroughs had fallen by 1 million while the outer boroughs have swelled by 24% to 5.1 million.  The most highly populated areas today are Barnet, Croydon and Ealing.

House building map 2-2

This switch in population from inner to outer came about because of house building.  The population surge of the 30s was met with a surge in building, and most of it took place in outer areas[2].

House building chart 3-2

This lure of new housing in the suburbs and the loss of central London housing in the Blitz helped reshape the capital.

In the last decade fewer homes were built than in the 1960s and 70s, when the population was shrinking. House-building has failed to keep pace with the population.

Since 2002 London has seen a 21% increase in jobs and a 16% rise in population. Over the same period new homes have increased by 11%[3].

House building chart 4-2

The 11% figure disguises a stark difference between inner and outer boroughs and where those homes have been built. Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that there has been a 37% increase in the number of homes in Tower Hamlets since 2001 and a 20% increase in Islington. But in the same period the growth rate in dwellings in 16 outer boroughs has been in single figures – with just 4% in Sutton and 2% in Merton.

house buidling map 5-2

This pattern of growth is a reversal of what happened through most of the 20th century when more than half of the new housing stock was provided in the outer boroughs.

This growth in inner areas is not uniform however. 28% of the housing stock in Tower Hamlets was built this century, the highest proportion anywhere in the UK. It has the space through the redevelopment of areas like Canary Wharf and Limehouse.  Kensington and Chelsea in contrast has seen a 2% growth in homes due to the lack of brownfield sites.

The building in inner London means these areas are becoming more densely packed. Housing density is measured in dwellings per hectare. The average for England as a whole is 1.8. The average rate for London is 21.5[4]. For Inner London it is more than double that again at 44.6. And for Kensington and Chelsea, the borough with London’s highest, it is 69.1 dwelling per hectare.  The lowest density is Havering with 8.7 dwellings per hectare.  Havering is 10 times larger than Kensington and Chelsea. If it were to have the same dwelling density as the Royal borough it would have nearly 800,000 homes not the 100,000 it has currently.

As in the 1930s, the location of home building is pulling the population.  The biggest rate of growth in the past 12 months is in the City of London, but the numbers are small. After that it is Tower Hamlets where there has been at a 2.3% rise in residents in a year.

The GLA’s forecast for the next 25 years[5] shows that Tower Hamlets will lead the growth in residents, closely followed by Newham as many head east in search of a home.

House buidling map 6-2

But can building keep pace with demand?   New home starts are climbing back towards where they were 10 years ago, but it is still not enough and the problem is widely acknowledged. In his housing strategy document last year[6], the outgoing Mayor, Boris Johnson, said that housing was an “epic challenge” and that the number of new homes being built in the capital would need to double to 42,000 per year for the next 20 years to keep pace with population growth.

House building in the capital has been bumping along at around the 20,000 level for the past 10 years[7]. Following the financial crisis of 2008 it dipped sharply.

House building chart 7-2

Most of the homes being built are in the private sector, not social housing, which raises issues about affordability. Even in the ‘affordable’ sector a shift has taken place.

More affordable housing was delivered in London in the 2014-15 financial year than for any period dating back to 1991[8]. 17,913 homes were built or acquired and made available (so not counted in the new starts chart above) in the affordable rented sector, according to data from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the GLA.

Affordable rents were previously available through what was termed social housing. This is rented property provided by a council or a housing association with long, secure tenancies and rents at around 50% of the market rates.

Housing associations also provided Intermediate rental.  This gives a tenant a subsidised rent, usually around 60% of the market rate, while they save for a deposit to buy the property.

In 2010 the government introduced a new category, which it confusingly called Affordable Rent.  This aimed to give social landlords a route to maintaining or increasing the amount of lower cost rental while relying less on public funding. It allows them to charge more and have less restrictive tenancies.  Affordable Rent properties can charge up to 80% of the market rate.

It is this sector that has taken off in the past year, increasing the amount of affordable housing, but the amount of Social Rent housing has declined sharply since AR was introduced.  And this is not due to the building of new stock alone. Some Social Rent property is re-classified as Affordable Rent when it becomes vacant.

House building chart 8-2

The last time the delivery of affordable housing was at this level was in 2011-12.  In that year a comparable number of Intermediate Rent properties were made available.  But there were 11,374 Social Rent homes. In 2014-15 that had been reduced to 3,053[9].

All candidates are making pledges about houses but perhaps the voters’ decisions on the housing issue comes down to the answers to 3 simple questions.  How many houses will you build, what sort of homes will they be and where will you build them?

Sources

[1] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/population-change-1939-2015

[2] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[3] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/number-and-density-of-dwellings-by-borough

[4] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/number-and-density-of-dwellings-by-borough

[5] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/population-change-1939-2015

[6] https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/housing-strategy/mayors-housing-strategy

[7] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[8] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[9] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

This report was produced in association with London Live’s election special programme London Votes

 

 

Is this the beginning of the end of the council house?

Council Housing Thamesmead-2London is soon to pass a housing landmark – the amount of social housing provided by the private sector is about to overtake the number provided by councils.

There are currently 799,400 households in social housing across the capital. That’s 23% of all households, and the rate has been fairly stable for the past 7 years, falling very gradually from 24.6% in 2009. During the same period the demand has increased from a growing population, and there are more families living in social housing in London now than there were in 2009.

What has been changing more dramatically is the ownership structure. 20 years ago town halls owned 3 times the number of homes as housing associations in the social housing sector.  The latest figures on housing stock for 2015 show that they are now near parity and the trend suggests that the majority of homes will be owned by private providers this year.

Social housing chart

Council-owned housing stock has been in decline since the 1980s when the government of Margaret Thatcher introduced the Right To Buy scheme to enable tenants to buy their council property.

Housing associations have been building at a faster rate than council have been replenishing their stocks and some councils have transferred their homes to these private providers.

A number of London boroughs have done this.  Richmond owns no housing.  Bexley, Bromley and Merton have also transferred their social housing stock to private registered  landlords, although all have a very small number of homes still listed under their ownership.

In contrast, the borough of Southwark owns 36,687 homes, the largest number in London.

Council housing stock

As many people struggle to find a suitable place to live the demand for social housing remains strong.  More than a quarter of a million households are on housing waiting lists held by local authorities.  The number has gone up by 3% since last year to 263,491, the first rise in 10 years.

All local authorities have a register of people who are seeking social housing, which offers much lower rent and secure tenancies.  The criteria councils use to decide whether someone is eligible for a place on the register have changed since 2011 when they were given greater freedom to manage the lists.  This has contributed to the reduced number of people on the lists, until last year’s rise, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Most councils warn people seeking a place on the register that with limited numbers of houses and few becoming available each year they are likely to have to wait a long time for a property, if they qualify to receive one at all.

Whether they are hoping for a council house or social housing from a housing association, their chances are limited. The social rent sector is under pressure.  Out of more than 17,000 new “affordable” homes built in London last year only 3,000 were for social rental, as reported by Urbs.

This means that many people on lower earnings will continue to seek an affordable option in the private rental market.  Rental price increases in recent years have made this a real struggle, as reported here, which is why it has become one of the key battlegrounds in the forthcoming elections for Mayor.

Source data

See also

Social housing rental defies location-driven pricing of private sector

Families face the biggest premiums for renting homes in the capital

Paying the rent takes up 72% of income for private tenants

 

Sportiest Londoners live in the wealthier south west boroughs

running woman-2People living in south west London are the sportiest in the city with a far higher proportion taking part in regular physical activity.

More than a quarter of the residents of Wandsworth do some form of sporting activity three times per week or more, according to survey data from Sport England.  But across London, in Newham and Barking and Dagenham, it is half that. And in Brent just 12% of people are doing that level of activity.

The south west corner of London has 4 boroughs, apart from Wandsworth, with large proportions of sporty people.  The data for Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond and Merton shows about a quarter of people doing 3 sessions per week.

But in Bexley and Greenwich it is just 15%. It’s 14% in Newham and Barking and Dagenham. Across the other side of the city, in the north west, it is 15% in Ealing, 13% in Hillingdon, but with 12% Brent has the lowest rate of people doing regular exercise.

sport particpation map

South west London is generally a more affluent area than other parts of the capital but the reason why people there are more active in sports is not clear. These boroughs also have low levels of obesity, while the proportion of people with severe weight problems is much higher in boroughs such as Hillingdon, Barking and Dagenham and Bexley, as previoulsy reported by Urbs.

The data gathered by Sport England through the Active People Survey also reveals that as a region London has the highest average rate for people doing 3 sessions or more of exercise.

Sport participation regional

The current rate of 18.3% is up from 17.2% 10 years ago.  While this growth has been modest the proportion of people doing no exercise has also seen little change, and remains stubbornly high. Across the capital 52% of the population does no sporting activity.  But in Newham it is 62% and in Barking and Dagenham it is 64%.

For these people, getting off the coach to take part in sport 3 times a week may be a very tall order.  A more modest achievement may be to find a way to get them to join the 38% of Londoners who take part in sport once a week.

Source data

See also

Sporty Londoners prefer solo exercise

Size matters – and it depends where you live

The way we spend our cash – more rent, less alcohol, healthier eating

Health and wealth – an East/West divide when it comes to a flu jab

 

 

Huge pay gap in hourly rates between full time and part time workers

Daniel Wilson shutterstock_95849584-1-2-1People working part time are paid a little over half the hourly rate of those working in full-time employment, and the gap between full time and part time rates is wider in London than any area of the country.

Latest figures for earnings from the Office for National Statistics show that the median hourly rate in London is £9.22 if you work part time but £16.16 for those with a full-time job.

A quarter of the jobs in London are part time and many of them are low skilled. That’s 1.24 million jobs, with some people doing more than one to make up full time hours but being paid a fraction of what they might earn as a full time employee.

In London the gap in hourly rates of pay is 43% but in every other region of the country it is 40% of less. In the South West of England part time workers earn an hourly rate of 68% the full time rate, compared to 57% in London.

The median hourly rate for part time work in the capital is just 14p higher than the next nearest region, the South East of England, but £1.20 higher than the lowest paid region, the North East.

Hourly earnings part time regional

The figures are based on a sample of PAYE records and the ONS calculates a median, or mid point, rather than an average, which might be distorted by a small number of very high rates.

People living in Newham have a lower hourly part time rate than any region of the country and are typically being paid less than those living in Newcastle or Sunderland, where the cost of living is lower.

The rate is only a little higher in neighbouring Tower Hamlets and across the capital median hourly rates for part time workers are below the London Living Wage in 15 of the 33 boroughs – Croydon, Merton, Greenwich, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Hounslow, Ealing, Brent, Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Enfield and Waltham Forest.

Hourly earnings part time map

The Greater London Authority sets the London Living Wage. It is a voluntary rate and promoted by the Mayor, who is trying to get employers to sign up. At the time of the earnings survey in April the London Living Wage was £9.15. It was increased to £9.40 in October.

As previously reported by Urbs, there are three quarters of a million jobs in London paying less than the Living Wage.  Data shows that women are more likley than men to be in low paid work, and nearly half of those working for less than the London Living Wage are under 24.

Source data

See also

Lowest paid living in Newham as rates remain static across capital

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

Buying a home gets further out of reach, now 11 times annual salary

 

 

A prosperity divide and neither rich nor poor seem happy

© Acmanley | Dreamstime.com - London Street Art Photo

Photo: © Acmanley | Dreamstime.com

The people of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden are among the wealthiest on average in the UK, but money is not buying them happiness, as they are more miserable than many across the country.

These findings emerge in an index that looks at the combination of wealth and life satisfaction to indicate levels of prosperity. It suggests that 6 London boroughs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and the City of London) are the most prosperous in the country. But 4 others (Bexley, Greenwich, Brent and Croydon) are in the bottom 10 of 170 areas assessed.

The high prosperity scores for London boroughs are based largely on wealth not well-being. The Legatum Institute, a think tank that says that it is focused on promoting prosperity, put the index together. It used GDP per capita as a measure of wealth and the life satisfaction data collected by the Office for National Statistics.

Residents in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and the City of London, enjoy an average income of £133,000. 15 of the top 20 areas in the UK for average earnings, including Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Haringey and Islington, are in London. But the spread of wealth is not uniform across the capital and some boroughs come at the lower end of the table. Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Enfield and Barking and Dagenham have average earnings of £14,300.

What is common to all London boroughs however is the low level of life satisfaction. The happiest place in the UK according the ONS measure is the Outer Hebrides. Out of 170 areas the only London borough to squeeze into the top 50 is Bromley at 49 in the rankings.

Wealthy Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea are down in the mid 80s and only 6 other boroughs (Ealing, Merton, Sutton, Kingston, Richmond and Hounslow) make it into the top 100.

While residents of Camden and the City of London come top for earnings they are in the bottom 10 when it comes to happiness, along with Croydon and Brent. Haringey and Islington folk also seem to be miserable – 11th from bottom in the life satisfaction rankings.

Source data

See also

Well-being and wealth – how South West London soars ahead of the rest

Pay rates underline gap between rich and poor boroughs

Welcome to the city of the super rich

 

 

Mapping Londoners: Born in Norway

Norway has a population of around 5.1 million, that’s same as the outer London boroughs, so it is hardly surprising that with a relatively small population few are found in London.

According to the last census in 2011 there are 5,385 people born in Norway who are resident in capital. They are the smallest Scandinavian group, with Swedes outnumbering them 3:1.

As with other Scandinavian nationalities, Westminster is the most popular place to live. The other large group is clustered in Wandsworth and Merton. Apart from that, a semi-circle of central London boroughs from Kensington and Chelsea to Tower Hamlets have the most Norwegian residents.

With such a small group there is no estimate from the Annual Population Survey for how the numbers may have changed since the 2011 census.

Source data

 

More population maps