LCCI has written to key candidates across London’s 73 constituencies setting out the priorities for the capital’s businesses. We outline the key points raised below.
This General Election comes after a lengthy period of change and uncertainty for London firms. Brexit has dominated political debate in the UK, often it feels, to the exclusion of other substantive issues like housing, transport and skills.
Economic performance depends on business confidence. No political party can renew and transform the economy without a partnership with businesses.
From sorting out Brexit to investing in people and from facilitating infrastructure delivery to boosting international trade, the next Government – and new Parliament – must refocus on business priorities.
These key issues should be addressed in the context of perhaps the biggest challenge – to transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Fixing the housing crisis
London’s chronic housing undersupply is pushing up the costs of business and affecting the mobility of workers.
- More land needs to be freed up and more smaller builders enabled to build.
Housing undersupply also poses a challenge to the resilience of the UK capital with the majority of front-line ‘blue light’ police, fire and paramedic staff living outside the city they serve often due to the cost of living.
LCCI commissioned research identified 329 hectares of under-utilised or derelict land, that makes up less than 1% of the Green Belt.
- We believe this disused land should be utilised to provide homes to rent for London police, fire and paramedic frontline staff.
Keeping transport moving
London’s ageing transport infrastructure is increasingly experiencing overcrowding, delays and congestion.
- Targeted investment is essential to service a rapidly expanding population.
At the same time, problems on mainline commuter rail services are among the most pertinent transport issues impacting on the capital’s businesses and workforce.
Savanta ComRes polling for LCCI found that 40% of firms stated that poor reliability and punctuality of commuter train services was one of the main issues affecting their business.
- We believe that enabling TfL coordination over London bound commuter services would bolster economic connectivity across the South East.
Closing the skills gap
London’s businesses need access to skills and talent from a broad and diverse workforce pool.
- Improved training opportunities and a flexible migration system will help greatly.
LCCI polling found 42% of London business leaders cited skills shortages as a barrier to business growth. LCCI endorsed the Call for Action by London Councils and City Hall for more devolution to integrate skills and employment in a system that meets challenges facing employers and the workforce alike.
- We believe that dedicated London Apprenticeship and Careers Advice Services are needed alongside the devolved Adult Education Budget.
Not all skills gaps can be filled by the local workforce. London has a unique immigration footprint with key sectors such as health relying heavily on migrant skilled workers. LCCI has continually advocated regional flexibility in any new immigration system.
- We believe London should have a dedicated Shortage Occupation List (similar to that used in Scotland) to enable the capital to address its skills gaps more efficiently. This will be critical in any post-Brexit scenario.
Securing more power to grow
London will need greater powers to accommodate its forecasted population growth of over 10 million citizens by 2030.
- Retaining more London-generated taxes and securing new policy competencies are key.
LCCI participated in, and is supportive of, the London Finance Commissions tasked by successive Mayors to examine how to deliver financial devolution to the capital. The Commission called for Westminster to increase London’s control of local tax revenue from 7% to around 13%. City Hall needs more powers over Infrastructure and Skills if London is to meet the challenges it faces as it heads towards ‘mega-city’ status.
- Devolving the full suite of property taxes including business rates and stamp duty could deliver more integrated and efficient services.
Ensuring a fair costs burden
London’s businesses are carrying an unsustainably high cost of the national business rates yield.
- A fundamental review of the business rates system in England is long overdue.
Westminster City Council alone generates more than the aggregate annual business rates income of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield city councils.
- We believe a decoupling of London from the national valuation system would ensure that increases in London's rateable values do not inevitably lead to significant increases in business rates.
For more information about LCCI’s policy work, please email email@example.com.