Haringey records London's largest fall in life satisfaction during pandemic

Aerial view of residential streets in Muswell Hill

Aerial view of residential streets in Muswell Hill - Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Haringey saw the biggest drop in life satisfaction in London during the Covid-19 pandemic, sparking concerns over the impact of the virus on mental health. 

Life satisfaction in the borough fell by 9.1% during the first six months of the pandemic, compared to 1.3% for London as a whole. 

Reacting to the decline – the highest in London according to a council report – a town hall chief said Haringey had suffered the most acute economic impact from the pandemic in the capital, with unemployment rising “across the board”. 

The findings, taken from the annual population survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), were presented at a meeting of the council’s adults and health scrutiny panel on Monday. 

Jim Pomeroy, policy team leader at Haringey Council, told the meeting: “Haringey has experienced the most acute economic impact of any borough, certainly in London and potentially also in the rest of the UK. 

“Our unemployment has gone up across the board – particularly for young people – and we have high furlough rates as well. 

“Both of those things will have impacted on people’s sense of life satisfaction, their general wellbeing, and of course [that] will likely manifest itself in mental health conditions for some people.” 

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Panel member Helena Kania asked what the council was doing to address the “huge drop” in life satisfaction. 

Mr Pomeroy said an update due to be presented to cabinet in July would set out the council’s response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, including wider health impacts such as mental health. 

It will also focus on economic recovery, financial resilience and poverty, he added. 

But Mr Pomeroy pointed out the council would only be able to monitor the changes in the ONS life satisfaction survey on a yearly basis. 

Ms Kania called for the panel to examine the next set of ONS figures when they are published. Cabinet member for health, social care and wellbeing Cllr Lucia das Neves backed the call, saying mental health was one of her priorities. 

Cllr das Neves told the panel many people’s wellbeing had worsened during the pandemic, and that council officers would look at what support the local authority could offer them in partnership with other organisations in the community.