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London’s quality of life improving

London-Quality-of-LifeThe London Sustainable Development Commission’s (LSDC) Quality of Life Indicators report for 2012 was launched at City Hall on 30th January 2013, providing a snapshot of London’s quality of life and identifies the sustainability issues London faces.

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The London Sustainable Development Commission’s 2012 London Quality of Life Indicators Report finds that overall quality of life for Londoners is getting better despite the recession and record population growth over the past 10 years.

The report’s indicator set encompasses 33 headline indicators across the environmental, social and economic spheres – from energy use, air pollution and traffic volumes to life expectancy, happiness and employment levels. The majority of the indicators have improved in the past three years.

Falling traffic, waste and emissions

Despite London’s population increasing by more than 850,000 people in the last decade, traffic volumes dropped by seven per cent between 2003 – 2010, with 1.5 billion fewer vehicle journeys between 2009-2012, and total household waste fell from 3.4 million tonnes in 2006-7 to 3 million tonnes in 2010-11. CO2 levels have fallen by almost one tonne per capita since 2009.

Improving education and stabilising employment

The proportion of pupils obtaining at least 5 GCSE passes at A*-C or equivalent has increased by 29% since 2004.

Employment levels have stabilised at around 69 per cent during the last three years and there is evidence that the employment rate for London has been increasing since mid 2009. While one-year and three-year business survival rates are down, 60% of London businesses started in 2007 were still trading three years later. London has a 19 per cent market share in the green jobs sector in the UK and 0.7 per cent of global market share. Jobs in the green economy rose slightly between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

In 2012, 22.9 per cent of firms in London reported introducing product innovations, a rise from 20 per cent in 2009. In the same year, 13.2 per cent of London firms reported introducing process innovations, also a rise since 2009 when levels were at nine per cent.

Increasing life expectancy

Life expectancy has also improved for both men and women with males’ life expectancy increasing to 79 years from 77.4 and females up to 83.3 years form 82. Both figures compared 2008-10 with 2004-06 data.

Room for improvement

Not all areas of life have improved during the past decade. The cost of childcare has risen whilst its availability has decreased. Between 2009-2011 the number of childcare places for under eights per 100 children has declined by just over four per cent and London has the highest childcare costs of all regions in the UK. The affordability of housing continues to be a problem – affordability has more than halved in the capital since 1997 and London homes were also 37 per cent less affordable than the national average.

Working to be the best big city in the world

London is the only major world city to produce such a comprehensive report examining all aspects of life across the three main themes of environment, economy and social progress. The LSDC produced the first Quality of Life Indicators Report in 2004 and subsequent reports were produced in 2005 and 2009. The report provides baseline data that will inform the Commission’s future work programme and advice to the Mayor, contributing to his aspiration for London to be the best big city in the world:

“The London Sustainable Development Commission supports this aspiration and believes that as part of being ‘best’ we should work to make London the benchmark for sustainable cities by 2020. To improve our chances of achieving this we need first to know what this would mean in economic, environmental and social terms; where we currently stand; and then measure progress against these issues.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson welcomed the report:

“This snapshot of London life underlines that despite the economic difficulties of the last few years, the capital continues to thrive and can justifiably lay claim to be the best big city in the world to live, work and do business in.

“London is a great place to invest – air quality is improving, we’re one of the greenest capital cities and we have a well educated and highly-skilled workforce.”

LSDC Commissioner Dr Paul Toyne who has lead on the report for the Commission said:

“As a Londoner and London resident, sustaining the best possible quality of life is something I am passionate about. Improving it without losing the unique and vibrant identity of this city is key.

“The challenge remains to transform London into a more sustainable city. One that will safeguard us against the potential environmental, social and economic disruption that will affect our health, well-being, community spirit and economic viability.

“Despite the general evidence pointing to overall quality of life improvements there are large variations borough by borough. For London to really progress we need to ensure the quality of life improves for all Londoners, regardless of gender, background and where they live – the goal must be for an inclusive approach offering opportunities for all.”

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