Today the London Fairness Commission report was published, following the first inquiry into ‘fairness’ in the capital for 125 years.  The Fairness Commission was the result of lobbying by My Fair London and Toynbee Hall.  It cost £150,000 raised from a number of trusts and was the first Fairness Commission to operate completely independently from local authorities.

The London Fairness Commission report considers a ‘ticking time bomb’ – how London’s future success will be undermined if current problems are not resolved – and presents recommendations, including ones relating to the cost of living and housing.

Chair of the London Fairness Commission, Lord Victor Adebowale commented:

‘London’s future success is at risk if we do not address the cost of living for modern day Londoners – costs, such as housing, transport and childcare, are higher in London. Londoners on average salaries spend nearly half their pay on rent, compared with a quarter for those on average salaries outside the Capital. While Londoners do earn more on average, that extra sum goes nowhere near bridging the gap. There is now a danger that London will become a playground for the super-rich, a treadmill for the middle-classes and a workhouse for the poor.’

London is a global city, yet compared to other cities of its standing the cost of living in London is high. Londoners on average salaries spend 49% of their pay on rent, compared with 26% for those on average salaries outside the capital. The average extra costs for householders who are renting and using childcare is £6,000. Would-be homeowners in London need to earn £77,000 a year to get on the housing ladder[1]. Across the UK, a first-time buyer needs a minimum income of £41,000.

The London Fairness Commission’s recommendations include:

  • Immediate introduction of London minimum wage of £9.70
  • The Mayor should delay issuing the Freedom Pass from 60 to 65 years and means test it
  • Action to make employers help more with childcare costs
  • Public disclosure of pay ratio data from companies and public sector bodies based in London
  • Ensure that companies registered offshore declare details of property ownership
  • The Mayor of London to be given powers of compulsory purchase on land/properties owned by offshore companies who are unwilling to declare the name of the ultimate beneficial owner
  • Suspend right to buy for five years while supply is increased and provide a portable discount for those who have lived in social housing for 15 years
  • Reduce or control the average cost of letting agents’ fees and charges
  • Set ‘affordable rents’ to 30% of household income rather than 80% of market rent
  • Tax land owners in London with planning permission for new homes who refuse to develop their land for longer than 3 years.

The London Fairness Commission would also like to see the start of a new ‘philanthropic age’ and believes that the time is ripe for London’s wealthiest residents and businesses to come together in an exemplary social philanthropic effort – a ‘Peabody’ moment for the 21st Century.

This is the first time in 125 years – since Charles Booth mapped the levels of wealth and poverty across London in 1889, coining the phrase ‘the poverty line’ in the process – that a special commission has analysed the ‘fairness’ of London.

One of the recommendations is that My Fair London and Toynbee Hall should enter into talks with London Funders to see how the recommendations in the report can be monitored and how there can be continuing discussions about reducing levels of inequality in London – and making London a fair city for all.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the London Fairness Commission website.

Sean Baine, Member My Fair London and a member of the London Fairness Commission


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Equality Trust

[1] Figures from KPMG ‘Insights’ report for Shelter, May 2015