LCCI comments on the levelling up white paper

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said:

“The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry commends the government in its ambitions to level up the whole of the UK and regions that have been under-served in recent decades. The white paper’s recommended steps to devolve power to regions and cities, establish new mayors, improve transparency and performance management of local government, are all well-founded and will have significant impact.

“However, we are disappointed that the core of the white paper’s proposals amount to levelling down London. By forcing investment in areas like R&D, education spending, and cultural grants away from London, as this white paper recommends, the government is choosing to cut London out of productive investment for the sake of optics and for political gain.

“The M25 is hardly paved in gold and portraying London as a city of metropolitan “elites” is counterproductive. The pandemic has hit London disproportionately hard, making the capital’s full recovery to pre-COVID levels of economic activity all the more difficult in comparison to the rest of the country. London is also home to some of the most deprived areas of the country which are in desperate need of levelling up themselves. Focusing on the relative gaps between the Southeast of England and the rest of the country invites the government to make the country’s most productive region materially worse off.

“We cannot level up the whole of the UK by levelling down London. London’s economy is the engine room of the UK. Its success, and that of the Southeast of England, is critical to the UK’s post-Brexit, post-pandemic success. Unless London is given the resources and opportunities to thrive, the whole of the UK will suffer, and the levelling up agenda with it.”