Overwhelming support for more devolution in first major poll of Londoners for years London Tomorrow

 

Wednesday 4 March 2015

 

Overwhelming support for more devolution in first major poll of Londoners for years
London Tomorrow panel calls for Manchester-style combined authorities model

  • 60% of Londoners in favour of devolution
  • 56% of businesses agree
  • 89% of local councillors want more devolution

In the first major poll of Londoners on devolution for the capital in years, an overwhelming majority have come out in favour of greater local control of London's finances.

60% of Londoners want the capital's leaders to have more control over tax and spend in the city, according to polling for new thought leadership panel, London Tomorrow. This is a three-fold increase on the last major poll in 2011, when only 20% of Londoners were in favour.*

London Tomorrow which met for the first time last night (Tuesday 3rd March) is an initiative by London Chamber of Commerce & Industry in association with EY London and supported by London City Airport. The panel brings together public policy figures and business leaders to look at some of the challenges and opportunities facing the capital as London's population surges towards 9 million people.

In the biggest poll of its type in several years, ComRes surveyed over 1,700 Londoners, local councillors and London business leaders on attitudes towards devolution. Nine in ten (89%) councillors support London government securing greater control over taxes and how they are spent locally - with 56% of business leaders agreeing.

While, unsurprisingly, more than half of local councillors (58%) want local authorities to control taxation revenue if it is devolved, the most popular option for businesses (43%) and public (31%) would be for regional government - the Mayor and the Greater London Authority (GLA) - to control taxation revenue.

The London Tomorrow panel noted that 65% of local councillors stated they would support increased collaboration between local councils, even if this means losing some control over economic growth policy.

Manchester is a prime example of combined local authorities working well together to win devolution and an example that London should follow.

London Tomorrow believes this polling and the successful precedent set by Manchester provides a strong case for the new post-election government to examine how the combined local authorities model can be utilised to enable clusters of London Councils to work together on cross borough matters, in co-ordination with the GLA, to support economic development. According to the poll, priority spending areas to stimulate economic growth should be: transport infrastructure, which 67% of London businesses said should be the top priority spending area if taxes could be retained and spent locally; and housing, which 69% of councillors and 50% of Londoners see as the top priority.

Commenting on the results at the first meeting of the London Tomorrow panel, Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said: "In this crucial poll, the London public and local councillors have clearly added their support to that of London business leaders for greater power over tax and spend to be given to London's leaders.

"This is the first time we have heard from Londoners on this issue in years. We urge the next government to take note and act. It is telling that 84% of London councillors cite a lack of appetite from the Treasury as the biggest block to further devolved powers for London - the support for devolution shown in this poll indicates this situation cannot continue.

"Further devolution to the capital is now a key issue for the London public, businesses and councillors alike, and it is something I am sure that those vying to be the next Mayor of London in 2016 will take note of."

Caroline Artis, Senior London Partner at EY, a member of the London Tomorrow panel said: "Devolved powers could create an even more ambitious growth strategy for London - both in terms of attracting inward investment into the city and in helping smaller businesses scale up and become global exporters.

"If London was given greater powers to keep more of the taxes it raises, the city could use this funding to help solve some of the more London-centric issues like housing, skills and infrastructure. These are all issues London will have to deal with on a greater scale than other UK cities and without access to funds, London could easily lose its place as a top global city."

Patrick Burrows, Chief Financial Officer of London City Airport, another member of the London Tomorrow panel said: "It is telling that the majority of businesses have said that transport infrastructure should be the top spending priority if tax and spend powers were devolved. Providing, as we do, air connectivity to the business and political centres of Canary Wharf, The City and Westminster, we are well aware of how critical good transport links are to the continued success of existing business and to attracting new business, both domestic and international.

"We are also, of course, very focused on improving the airport's own infrastructure and we're pleased that the London Borough of Newham recognises our role in the development of London and recently resolved to approve our £200million expansion plans, pending sign-off from the Mayor."

Professor Tony Travers, Director, LSE London and a member of the London Tomorrow said at the panel event last night: "People want their city's government to be able to make decisions about investment and local services.  Comparable cities such as New York and Tokyo have far greater control over the taxes raised from their residents and businesses. As London's population grows to nine and then towards ten million, the mayor and the boroughs need to be able to invest in transport, housing, schools and river crossings.  Whitehall, however well-intentioned, cannot understand a city as large as London.  Devolution of power would mean improved decision-making."

  • The members of the new London Tomorrow thought leadership panel includes:
  • Professor Tony Travers, Director, LSE London
  • Nick Raynsford MP, Greenwich and former Minister
  • Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Caroline Artis, Senior London Partner, EY
  • Mark Gregory, Chief Economist, EY
  • Patrick Burrows, Chief Financial Officer, London City Airport
  • Huw Thomas, Partner, Foster & Partners Architects
  • Sean McKee, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Nick Tolchard, Co-Chair of Sovereign Investor Group and Head of Invesco Middle East

ENDS

Media contact:
Jo Hooper, Press & Media Relations Manager
T: +44 (0)20 7203 1897                 
M: +44 (0)7827 241528
E: jhooper@londonchamber.co.uk

NOTES TO EDITOR:

  1. 'London Tomorrow: Shaping Future Cities' is a thought-leadership initiative facilitated by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in association with EY London and supported by London City Airport.
  2. Colin Stanbridge of LCCI, Caroline Artis of EY London and Patrick Burrows of London City Airport are available for further comment and interview.
  3. ComRes undertook the polling for LCCI and interviewed: 

    -1,051 London adults online between 27th and 29th January 2015. Data was weighted to be representative of all London adults aged 18+.

    -ComRes interviewed 503 London business decision makers online between 29th January and 16th February 2015. Data was weighted to be representative of all London businesses by company size and broad industry sector.

    -150 London councillors online between 27th January and 17th February 2015. Data was weighted to be representative of all London councillors by party and broad region.
  4. All data tables can be found on the ComRes website: http://comres.co.uk/polls/lcci-london-tomorrow-survey/ ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  5. Mayor of London retains 7% of the taxes raised in London; in New York this is 50%; in Tokyo this is 70%
  6. * 2011 YouGov survey can be found here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/london-devolution/