Automation and decarbonisation could further deepen poverty in London

Increasing automation and a move to a greener economy could further deepen inequality in the capital post-pandemic.

The gap between’s London’s poorest and richest widened during coronavirus, with people claiming unemployment benefit substantially above the national average.

As companies seek to recoup lost profits from the pandemic, many are turning to automation of roles, thanks to advancing technology.

Unemployment claims in London are still however almost 80 per cent above the pre-pandemic level, vastly exceeding the rest of England, which is below 50 per cent.

Research from Central London Forward and WPI Economics found that 1.36m jobs in the capital are at risk by 2030, with grim prospects for mass job losses.

Its report also showed this is likely to disproportionally impact on those from Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) communities, who are more likely to be in a job at high risk of automation.

The capital is also looking to decrease its carbon footprint, through the creation of three-quarters-of-a-million so-called ‘green jobs’ by 2050.

The findings suggests that almost 400,000 jobs in the capital are from ‘carbon intensive’ sectors, with many being low-skilled jobs, and new green roles likely to require higher qualifications.

While addressing “deep regional inequalities” across the country, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, Chair of Central London Forward and Leader of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said there was a need to “narrow the inequalities” in London, which is the “most unequal part of the UK before the pandemic”.

“Inequalities have deepened, and they may grow still in the coming years.”

Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, Chair of Central London Forward

Director of WPI Economics, Matthew Oakley, said that while the capital is an “economic powerhouse” it is also “home to significant levels of poverty.. and very much in need of levelling up.

“Technological change, automation and decarbonisation could all lead to changes in the labour market that risk deepening existing inequalities. But this is not inevitable”, and he called for investment in more jobs and skills.