4in10’s new report highlights the voices of low income working families in inner London on the complex challenges they face. Despite working, these families are struggling to meet the cost of living in inner London, where 35% of children are in poverty, seven percentage points more than in outer London. We’re calling on the Mayor to use his strategy for London as an opportunity to help low income parents like Sonia and Emma to be able to provide a better life for their families.

Single mum Nadia and her ten year old son have been living in in a tiny studio flat for four and a half years. They were made homeless by rising private rents after Sonia had to reduce her working hours as she couldn’t afford the cost of full time childcare. The impact on both Sonia and her son has been huge. When one of them gets changed, they go into the bathroom. Sonia now struggles with depression, anxiety, and spiraling health problems. Her son’s psychologist has told her that his behavioural issues at school are caused by worries about money and their housing situation.

Another parent we spoke to was Emma. She has lupus and will soon go into hospital for an operation. She lives with her daughter and her brother in a two bedroom flat, and although he works full time the bills just don’t add up. Emma shares a bed with her daughter, who has a SEN statement and suffers with atopic eczema which means she scratches through the night. Sometimes Emma is up several times a night to bath and moisturize her daughter and change the sheets, despite being ill herself. She struggles to pay the council tax which they receive no discount for, and we met her collecting a food parcel for her family at a food bank.

Two thirds of children living in poverty live in households where someone works. By speaking to these families, as well as looking at the policy picture, we have been able to illustrate the realities of inner city living for low income working families in London. Families juggling work and childcare told us of the difficulties of managing their bills and getting enough healthy food, as well as describing their housing conditions, which were damp, overcrowded, and insecure.  Soaring inner city costs and declining in-work benefits mean that low income working families in inner London are getting worse off, pushing more children into poverty. Not only does this hurt children and families, but it’s bad for business in London, where employers are already reporting difficulties recruiting and retaining staff due to the cost of living.

The Mayor and local authorities must act urgently to improve housing for families, childcare provision, and part-time and family-friendly employment and training opportunities to help low income Londoners remain in inner London. The Mayor could use TfL land around tube stations to create space for flexible childcare provision with reduced rents and business rates, enabling parents to access affordable childcare, increase their working hours, and improve family incomes. The Mayor recognises that his family story is one of how London has helped him succeed; now he has the opportunity to make sure London provides that story to others.


Download the report here

4in10 is a cross network of organisations working to reduce child poverty in London. Organisational membership is completely free and helps amplify our voice. It takes just 60 seconds to join us.