UCL maps London surnames by ethnicity and popularity

James Cheshire's map reveals the pattern of London immigration over the years

James Cheshire, of UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, has followed up on mapping life expectancy on tube lines with a fun new map showing the top fifteen most common surnames in London by electoral ward.

Looking at the the most common surnames reveals the top-level trends to be roughly what you'd expect: overall, English names are the most common, with Indian and Bangladeshi names having sizeable hotspots (in northwest and northeast London for Indian names, and Tower Hamlets for Bangladeshi names). Welsh names are rather evenly spread throughout the capital, and Sikh, Jewish and Pakistani surnames each have their own focal points.

What's really fascinating is playing with the site's slider and comparing the most frequent surnames with the 10th or 11th most frequent. Some areas stay the same, but just move down the list of common surnames; so, for instance, Hounslow's most common name is Singh, and it's tenth most common name is Sidhu. Others have predictable ethnic mixes. Tower Hamlets, where the Bangladeshi surname Begum is the most common, breaks down to a mixture of Bangladeshi and Pakistani surnames when you get further down the list. And some, like Hammersmith and Fulham, reveal little pattern at all: scrolling through the list gets first English names, then Welsh, then Scottish, Pakistani, Irish and "other".

The full, scrollable, zoomable map can be found here.

The fully zoomed-out map.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.