We encourage direct investment in the UK.
London is often seen to be a sponge. It takes up vital state funding. However, Nicholas Lyons writes that the capital has the highest levels of deprivation in the country.
In the UK, households and businesses will face difficult times in 2023 due to a rising cost of living. This is true both in London and in other parts. Recent polls have shown that 77% of Londoners believe living costs are the capital’s most significant problem.
London is home to 2.5 million people living in poverty. It is also one of the unequal areas in the country. Londoners must be aware of the importance of achieving economic “levelling up” and creating opportunities for all, as they are for those in Liverpool, Manchester, and Newcastle.
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Too often, London has been seen as a sponge that absorbs limited financial resources and stunts the growth of other cities. This perspective wrongly portrays London as part of the problem when it is an integral part of the solution.
Last week, the Mayor and other leaders from London joined me at Mansion House to discuss the issue.
All agreed that London needs to be as level as other parts of the UK. Our streets aren’t paved with gold. However, capital plays a crucial role in making that vision a reality.
London contributes significantly to the UK through its taxes and business rates, as well as the investments it attracts and the projects it funds. One example is a Leeds-based company hired to prepare the sewer network for the new Elizabeth Line. The trains were constructed in Derby.
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Although many people only associate London’s financial and professional service sector with London, it is an essential driver of employment and prosperity in the country. All areas in the UK saw their professional and financial services output increase by between 15% and 49% over the ten years to 2020. Today, the sector employs 2.3 million people.
For 40 years, I have lived in the Square Mile. I can remember when London was considered a declining city. Our financial institutions and infrastructure demonstrate our resilience in times of economic crisis.
Last year, London’s status as Europe’s largest stock exchange was briefly challenged. This shows us that success for London and the City is not an inevitable outcome.
Now is the right time to jumpstart our financial sector if we want it to remain the engine of the UK economy. The welcome steps in the right direction are the chancellor’s Edinburgh Reforms and Financial Services and Markets Bill.
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A booming City must play its part in making the capital a more equitable place. The City of London Corporation submitted plans last year to Parliament to relocate the Smithfield and Billingsgate markets to a new site in Dagenham Dock.
The area will see the transformation of 42 acres worth of industrial land. This will stimulate the local economy and create around 2,700 jobs. The City Bridge Trust grants around PS28 million each year to help disadvantaged communities in London.
It is more important than ever to achieve the goals of levelling up. The narrative must change, and London’s caricatures must be discarded. The capital should be included in the levelling up, as this mission is only possible with a thriving London.