How Poverty Feels

In 2021, 4in10 in partnership with the Greater London Authority commissioned ClearView Research to speak with Londoners to understand what poverty felt like since the Covid-19 pandemic had hit. What Londoners said helps paint a picture of the challenges that so many people face.  

All of us across the city have ambitions and there is plenty of opportunity to go around, but it’s been ring-fenced for a small group of people leaving many with too little left. The report showed that with an inadequate social security system, many families found the challenge of gaining secure employment, suitable housing, affordable childcare and everyday costs out of reach. Despite having big dreams, many felt that they were fighting forces beyond their control, an experience compared to flying against gravity.  

In 2023, with numerous strikes occurring on a regular basis, it’s clear that workers in many sectors feel they are at breaking point highlighting that the foundations are in need of repair. Basic transportation, health and teaching services are woefully underfunded and lacking investment for innovation and expansion. It’s worth revisiting this report to understand what families are facing today.  

Families can’t strike, they have to keep up the fight despite recent data showing that low-income Londoners have faced 21% inflation over the last three years. Families are choosing between heating and eating and the prospect of focusing on career progression when your flat is mouldy and transportation is unaffordable and childcare is inaccessible is an impossible challenge.  

What Londoners asked for in the report was for government to make the basics affordable. If childcare, cost of living bills and transportation were affordable then the possibility of families accessing better employment and housing that would enable them to thrive could come to fruition. This is what a good social security system does, it ensures we all have what we need through a social investment for us all. We need policies shaped by all of us to ensure no one gets shut out of decisions that affect them.  

Revisiting this report from 2021 is worthwhile because its key findings still hold their weight. That is that poverty is something most of us are concerned about and 85% of us believe that politicians should do more about it.  

With local elections just around the corner and London mayoral elections and a General Election on the horizon, it’s worthwhile thinking about making sure politicians hear from you that ending poverty warrants strategic policies. It must be a priority if communities are to thrive, and industries continue to expand providing income sources for Londoners. Flying Against Gravity shows the experiences of Londoners in first-hand accounts that remind us of the emotional toll that is unacceptable.  

Together we can do more by demanding lasting change to ensure we all have what we need to soar.