The north east London picture

A snapshot of our population in NEL

NEL is a diverse, vibrant and thriving part of London with a rapidly growing population of over two million people, living across seven boroughs and the City of London. It is rich in history, culture and deep-rooted connections with huge community assets, resilience and strengths. Despite this, local people  experience significant health inequalities. An understanding of our population is a key part of addressing this.

Our rich diversity. NEL is made up of many different communities and cultures and there is an opportunity to draw on a diverse range of community assets and strengths.

Our diversity underlines that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to services does not work for the people and communities of NEL. 

Just over half (53%) of our population are from ethnic minority backgrounds – we know that significant health inequalities exist between ethnic groups; this was highlighted and exacerbated by Covid-19.

We are densely populated and growing rapidly. Our two million residents are spread from the densely populated, inner city areas of Hackney and Tower Hamlets out to Havering. By 2041, we expect to have an additional 400,000 residents, the equivalent of adding another borough’s worth of people.

This means that we must take bold action now to improve our services, building capacity and resilience to create the best health and wellbeing outcomes possible for our future population.

We have high levels of deprivation. Nearly a quarter of local people live in one of the most deprived 20% of areas in England; and overall, among our boroughs, Barking & Dagenham is ranked 21st, Hackney 22nd, Newham 43rd, and Tower Hamlets 50th most deprived of all (312) England local authority areas.

Poverty and deprivation are key determinants of health and our place based partnerships and provider collaboratives are seeing first-hand the impact on our communities. The current cost of living pressures are increasing the urgency of these challenges.

We have a young population. While our 0-18 years population is broadly similar to England in that children and young people account for a quarter of our population (though this rises to nearly a third in Barking & Dagenham), it is our disproportionately large working age population that sets us apart from other parts of England.

Our inner London places tend to have a larger proportion of working age people currently, whereas outer London tends to have a larger population of older people leading to different health and care needs across places. However, this is changing as growth projections suggest large increases in older people over the coming decades, particularly in inner London, leading to over 260,000 additional over 60s projected by 2041, an increase of 115%.

While working age people tend to be healthier, this is not necessarily the case in NEL as all our places have a higher proportion of working age people unemployed and self-employed than the England average, and an estimated 13% of employed local people earn less than the London Living Wage. Almost a third of our population is living with one or more long term conditions despite their relative ‘youth’.

Many of our children are growing up in low income households. A quarter of children from Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and Newham, and substantial numbers in our other boroughs are growing up in low income households.

We know that this has a strong correlation with poorer health outcomes, and in particular the social and emotional wellbeing of children.

Children and families with the lowest 20% of household income are three times more likely to have common mental health problems than those in the wealthiest 20%.

Health inequalities are stark. There are significant inequalities within and between our communities in NEL, and our population has worse health outcomes than the rest of the country across many key indicators. Health inequalities are linked to wider social and economic inequalities.

Living in the context of the recent pandemic and cost of living increases
70% of our population is struggling in one or more aspects of daily life: finance, work, food, housing, loneliness; and groups more likely to struggle across multiple domains include people from an ethnic minority background, people with children, people of working age and people born outside of the UK.

Findings of a recent survey in NEL showed:

  • 20% of our population have not had enough money to buy food when needed; this is more often true for ethnic minority groups, young people, those with long term health conditions, and those who don’t speak English well or were born outside of the UK.
  • 15% of residents unable to adequately heat their home.
  • 14% consider their housing to be poor or very poor quality.
  • 20% with loans struggle to keep up with debt repayments.
  • 28% feel lonely some or often/all the time – this is especially so for the young or those with a long term health condition.

Reference: GLA Survey of Londoners (2022)

UPDATED: 16/02/2023