Dan Hawthorn, 13 April 2000
London’s social and economic problems are severe. There are more unemployed people in the Borough of Islington than in Newcastle, and more in the whole of London than in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales put together. Nearly half the children in Inner London come from families on Income Support, more than twice the average for the UK as a whole. London contains 13 of the 20 most deprived areas in the country, and 94 per cent of the poorest council estates. Over the last year, street crime in the city has risen by 30 per cent. By October 1999, the Metropolitan Police had cleared up just 15 per cent of the offences reported in 1998. In February this year, the Home Office released new targets for cutting car crime and burglaries. The Met has been ordered to reduce robbery by 15 per cent: at the moment they are only solving II per cent of robbery cases. London’s roads are congested: the city is regularly exceeding Government standards on sulphur dioxide and particulate air pollution. The Tube runs at, or even over, its capacity and is in need of capital investment.