Cost of living is a key concern for residents


  • 40% of residents list cost of living crisis in their top 3 concerns
  • 87% of residents say Tower Hamlets is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well

The increasing cost of living is the number one concern of Tower Hamlets residents according to an independent survey.

The combination of rising prices and interest rates was a top concern for 40% of respondents – an increase of 22 percentage points compared to the most recent comparable survey in 2019.

Four years ago, more than half of all residents (55%) said they were not concerned about financial issues such as paying bills, utilities and rent. This figure has fallen to just 32% in 2023.

Crime and antisocial behaviour rank as the second highest concern at 39% - a 9 percentage point decrease compared to 2019.

Street litter and dirt ranks third on 30% about the same as in 2019.

Tower Hamlets remains a great example of cohesion with 87% of residents saying it is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well with each other – up from 78% in 2019.

This is the first time the council has commissioned a face-to-face Residents’ Survey since 2019 because of the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

The survey is statistically balanced as the 1,117 residents that took part are representative of the demography of the population including age, ethnicity, and sex based on the 2021 Census and the sample size is large enough for it to accurately reflect wider opinion within the Borough.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“Our Residents’ Survey is a great way to understand how people are feeling and, importantly, how we can support them.

“We launched our Cost of Living Help campaign almost a year ago and since then we have distributed nearly £2 million worth of extra payments to families and funded a range of initiatives including warm hubs which saw over 22,000 visits recorded.

“It understandably remains the number one concern of our residents and we are continuing our campaign of support, for example the recent roll out of free school meals to all primary and secondary school pupils will help families save £550 per year, per child.

“Crime and waste usually appear in the top three concerns. We know that there is more work to do in these areas. I am already working with the Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets Police to ensure more is done to address the concerns of our residents, alongside the additional Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers we have recently recruited.

“We will continue to work to improve our waste service to the standards our residents expect and deserve.”

Council focus

  • Compared against national benchmarks provided by the Local Government Association, Tower Hamlets fares well. This is despite the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic when many people could not access council services easily because of building closures and lockdowns. 78% are satisfied with their local area as a place to live – compared to the national average of 76%
  • 65% trust the council – compared to the national average of 59%
  • 63% are satisfied with the council – compared to the national average of 60%
  • 57% believe the council keeps them informed – the same as the national average.

Increased user satisfaction in council services

Generally, service users have reported increased satisfaction in services compared to 2019.

Across the board, service users are happier with services now compared to 2019.

That includes (% is rated good by residents):

  • Primary education: 79% - up 5% points on 2019
  • Idea Stores / Libraries: 78% - up 4%points on 2019
  • Parks and open spaces: 73% - up 3% points on 2019
  • Nursery education: 73% - up 8% points on 2019
  • Secondary education: 70% - up 5% points on 2019
  • Children’s Centres: 69% - up 8% points on 2019
  • Leisure and sports facilities: 67% - up 6% points on 2019
  • Recycling services: 65% - up 8% points on 2019
  • Parking services: 52% - up 19% points on 2019

Increasing population, increasing pressures

The 2021 Census found Tower Hamlets to be the fastest-growing and most densely-populated place in the UK. This has put significant pressures on council services.

Despite a 22.1% increase in population since 2011 to 310,300, Tower Hamlets Council has absorbed most pressures while improving user satisfaction.

Even though we have built more homes pro rata than most other boroughs, the housing crisis means there are currently more than 20,000 families on our waiting list.

Last month, Mayor Lutfur Rahman wrote to Rt Hon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (see notes to editors), requesting more support and greater powers to build and retain more council housing, along with greater scrutiny of private landlords.  



Posted on Wednesday 4th October 2023