Understanding social needs in Westminster

The UK is home to many hidden problems, and Westminster, the hub of UK government, is no different. NPC’s report for Grosvenor and the Westminster Foundation explores needs in Westminster to help them to target their local funding more effectively.

When a business  wants to give funding to its local community, it can struggle to know where to start—for the reason that many problems in the UK are not easily visible to everyone. Grosvenor and the Westminster Foundation decided they wanted to target their local funding more effectively, which in NPC’s experience involves: assessing funding needs and the best use of resources; setting clear goals and objectives; and seeking to measure impact.

NPC researched the needs of the borough based on a literature review and interviews with a range of experts on social issues in Westminster. This needs analysis allows Grosvenor and the Westminster Foundation to understand the size and nature of the issues within Westminster, and where it can make the most difference.

The research revealed some striking key features about the borough of Westminster:

  • It is one of the most densely populated boroughs—almost double the London average—and has a high turnover rate of 241 per 1000 in 2008/9.
  • There are 182 different nationalities living in Westminster.
  • The inequality is stark—while it is the third most prosperous borough based on average income; 14% of Westminster’s neighbourhoods are in the top 10% most deprived in the country by income.

These features lead to some very acute problems within what many people think of as a prosperous area. These include:

  • Housing—30% of housing is overcrowded—the third highest level in the country—and 25% of all rough sleepers in England are in Westminster. Poor housing can lead to stress,  mental health problems, and poor educational attainment for children.
  • Westminster’s high population turnover can have a serious impact on public services, eg, the numbers of children joining new schools during the school year, and the numbers of households re-registering with local authorities for council tax.
  • Mental health—Westminster is ranked as the 10th highest area of need in the country.

Grosvenor and the Westminster Foundation have made available the findings of NPC’s research to publicise these issues in the borough and to encourage other funders to take an approach based on need.