How London’s choice of nightlife compares to other cities

dancing-2London is rightly famous for vibrant nightlife but if you want a bar scene Rio’s the place for you, and if you want to shake something then head to Shanghai.

A serious-minded report on the impact of economic growth on culture and the creative industries has thrown up some interesting facts about how London compares with other cities.

It appears that while people in London may like a drink, that’s as nothing compared to the bar scene of some Latin capitals. Madrid has twice the number of drinking establishments of either London or New York. Rio has more than twice the number of Madrid. But the figures really stand out when you look at the number of bars per 100,000 of the population.

Bars per 100k

Our capital does a little better when it comes to restaurants. London has similar number as New York but fewer than Paris. But if you want some choice in eating out then Toyko is then place for you. The Japanese capital has 150,510 restaurants. That’s equivalent to 1 for every 100 people. Depending on the size of the eating places it seems that a fair proportion of Tokyo’s residents could go out to dinner one night.


There’s a bigger clubbing scene is in London than Berlin, but if you’ve got your dancing shoes on then point them to Shanghai which has twice the number of clubs and dance halls as LA.



London appears to be falling down when it comes to live music. With 245 venues London trails behind New York. The data for London on this is from 2011 and recent reports suggest more venues closing.  Australia emerges in the figures as the place to see live bands and singers. Sydney may be a smaller city but it has nearly matched New York for venues, and Melbourne out performs them all.

Live muisc

The French emerge in the data as the most avid cinema-goers with 30% more cinema admissions in Paris than London. It has more cinema screens too, nearly matching Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood.


Data sources

World Cities Culture Forum 2015 report

See also

Economic growth carries risk for culture and creativity, says report

Why the Mayor thinks busking should be music to our ears

London losing its thirst for binge drinking

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

High Rise-2More affordable housing was delivered in London in the last financial year than for any period dating back to 1991. 17,913 homes were built or acquired and made available in the affordable rental sector, according to data from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the GLA.

This will be welcome news to many Londoners who struggle to find a suitable place to live against a backdrop of rising private rents and ever climbing property prices. But the increase in delivery is being driven by a particular part of the affordable housing sector and for many it is not really affordable at all.

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.

As the chart below shows, 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.

Affordable rent

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 was made available. But in 2011-12 there were 11,374 Social Rent homes. Last year there were 3,053.

To examine the impact on monthly rents Urbs looked at the data on market rates for various property types, previously reported here, and applied the Affordable Rent and Social Rent rules. We have used the median London price for each size of property determined by the Valuation Office Agency, which advises the government on property pricing.

Market Rate Affordable Rent (80%) Social Rent (50%)
1 Bedroom £1,155 £924 £577.50
2 Bedroom £1,400 £1,120 £700
3 Bedroom £1,695 £1,356 £847.50
4 Bedroom + £2,500 £2,000 £1,250

A family needing a 3 or 4 bedroom house would require a substantial income to afford an Affordable Rent and in many areas of central London the cost will be much higher.

Some families may be able to claim Housing Benefit to bridge the gap but the Benefit Cap introduced in 2013 means that the total claim for all benefits for a family is £500 a week – the amount needed just for rent of a 4 bedroom house in these calculations.

In its own impact assessment of the policy in 2011 the government acknowledged that the difference between the Social Rent and Affordable Rent would be hard for some to meet and reduce their housing security, or as it put it:

“Although some households are not likely to realise the same degree of benefits as would have been the case had they been allocated a social rented property (e.g. in terms of the introduction of time-limited tenure and potential for higher rents) the policy will also bring substantial advantages to the same type of households by increasing supply”

It says that without the policy there would be far less affordable housing and these people would have to wait for the limited amount of social housing while remaining in private rental properties at higher prices.

It can be argued that the introduction of the Affordable Rent category has addressed a decline in social housing. But the increase in affordable housing may be of little comfort to the least well off for whom an affordable rent of up to 80% of market rate in London is, well, just unaffordable.

Source data

See also

Families face the biggest premiums for renting homes in the capital

Under 40s locked out of housing market destined to be “generation rent”

Renting in London: 2 bedroom homes