So on the day that the super cars of the super rich descended on London, it was also announced that ‘world’s greatest city‘ has more millionaires than any other city worldwide. In addition, London now accounts for 72 billionaires – almost 10 per cent of all the billionaires in the world. Some would see this as great news, a true testament of London’s economic might and status as a global powerhouse and – you don’t have to go far to hear this kind of rhetoric from the media and politicians nowadays.
While it is true that London alone, is currently the ninth biggest economy in western Europe and represents 22.5% of the entire UK economy, there also is another side to the city. A side where 2.14 million people (28% of the population) live in poverty and 10% of the population own 60% of the assets, and where child poverty sits at 36% and 25% of economically active young adults (aged 16 to 24) are unemployed. These statistics (which I came across today whilst at work), among others, make for grim reading but serve as a reminder of the stark contrasts and challenges within this ‘great’ city.
The website from which these statistics are taken (www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk), provides a great insight into the challenges faced by the city through visualisations and summary statistics – I highly recommend a visit. From my point of view it would be interesting to see where London ranked among the world’s cities if a full range of socio-economic indicators (such as those listed on the website) were taken into account. It might just turn out to be the case that we have to think more carefully about how we use the term ‘great’.