People and places in London most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its social and economic consequences

  • Published 19th Oct 2020
  • Authors: Peter Kenway, , Cathy Street, , Josh Holden, , Rebecca Tunstall, , Charithra Chandran, , Carla Ayrton,
  • Category: Health

The disruption and strain of living amidst a pandemic is felt by all. However, the economic and health impacts do not fall evenly, with a social gradient of risk occurring where income, living conditions, employment type and working conditions disproportionately impact upon some populations and geographic areas more than others. These conditions can impact the relative risk of COVID-19 infection, or the risk of serious ill health directly from COVID-19, as well as many adverse physical and mental health outcomes, and social and economic challenges.

‘People and places in London most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its social and economic consequences’ profiles this picture by bringing together a wide range of existing and new data sets. Through displaying comparative borough and regional data alongside careful analysis and evidence, it identifies the scale and variation of new vulnerabilities exposed because of COVID-19 in addition to shining a light on how the pandemic is exacerbating existing health inequalities. For example, it brings together benefit and furlough data to show that more than 40% of the working population lost income over the period of April to June 2020 in eight London boroughs, with subsequent likely impacts on social and economic security. Income loss impacts mental health, with ONS data noting mental health worsening in the younger working age population over this period of time. The report also shows patterns of population groups experiencing greater adversity across a number of indicators, including Black and Bangladeshi ethnic groups, women and the younger working age population. In addition, it strongly depicts the challenges of London’s housing environment, both in terms of increasing infection risk and financial insecurity.

We all require equal health protection regardless of who we are, where we work or live. Identifying where additional protection is required is a necessary step to putting this support in place, and data observed so far shows that this picture of vulnerability is in parts different and more encompassing than before. This report supports further inquiry into these patterns from a regional, sub regional and local perspective, with consideration as to what they tell us. For example, how do they confirm or challenge existing assumptions? How do they fit with other types of evidence, whether gathered through community insight or service level data? How do risk factors cluster at a geographic and/ or community level?  What support is currently available at the national level and is this being accessed or meeting cultural needs? Who do we need to work with to strengthen action?

There is no one audience for this report – it is for many organisations and individuals working incredibly hard to support people experiencing particularly acute challenges at this time, with the hope that its wide-ranging data and insight can help existing work and strengthen plans going forward, that help minimise the wide range of harms over the next phase of the pandemic, and limiting the adverse longer term legacy.

About this report
This research, funded by a grant from Trust for London, is one of a number of workstreams established in response to COVID-19, looking at protecting and promoting London’s population health on behalf of the London Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), Public Health England (PHE) and the Greater London Authority (GLA).