Mayor Sadiq Khan has approved spending on a series of advertising campaigns designed to boost the diversity of City Hall’s online ‘Talk London’ community after an audit found BME Londoners and social tenants are significantly underrepresented in its user-base.
The community exists “to help steer the policy decisions of the future – on housing, the environment, transport, safety, jobs and more” through online discussions and surveys.
On sign-up, members are asked to provide details of their gender, ethnicity, housing tenure, occupation or education status, and age “so that we can aim to make sure all sections of London’s population are represented.”
However a breakdown of user demographics released in response to a Freedom of Information request reveals that the almost 45,000 user-base varies significantly from London’s population in several key areas.
Despite official figures showing that around 23% of Londoners live in a local council or housing association property, this is true of just 7.7% of Talk London members.
The FOI response also reveals that white Londoners are significantly over-represented, making up almost 84% of all users despite around 40% of Londoners coming from a BME background.
Unemployed Londoners are also under-represented, making up 2.2% of users versus the ONS estimating that this group accounts for 5.2% of the population.
These variances raise the risk that City Hall is failing to hear from some of the groups most affected by the Mayor’s policies aimed at boosting the supply of affordable housing and tackling inequality.
Last week Mr Khan approved up to £240,000 of funding for up to five advertising campaigns – the first of which is expected to launch this September – which will be targeted at those groups which are under-represented in the Talk London user-base.