It is more than seven years since one of the country’s poorest boroughs found out it was to host the Olympic Games, but despite the billions of pounds of public money that has been spent in the area, the borough of Newham is now comparatively worse off in terms of income and unemployment than it was in 2005.
According to research by the London School of Economics (LSE), on behalf of the charity Elizabeth Finn Care, the gap between household income in Newham and the rest of London grew between 2006 and 2011. Between 2005 and 2010, unemployment rose by 44 per cent in the borough, compared to 21 per cent in the rest of London.
Elizabeth Finn Care and the LSE are now embarking on a five-year study, and will be publishing their findings on how the Olympics has benefited the borough every year.
A promise to improve life chances of children in the east London boroughs where the Games are taking place was one of the crucial factors in London winning the bid. But Professor Anne Power, who is leading the research, said that in Newham “there is no easy route forward.”
The borough has the highest ethnic minority population of anywhere in the country, a markedly higher than average number of young people, and young families, and three times the average number of lone parent families.
“You have a sea of poverty and a desperate attempt to bring in more money,” she said.
But Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, said that the “Olympics are a springboard” and that the event’s impact will have to be judged in due course.