In response to the 2021 Autumn Budget, Nick Bowes, Chief Executive at Centre for London said:
“The current state of the country’s finances needs a strong London economy firing on all cylinders to sustain it, yet sparkling wine got more mentions than London today.
“Based on the Chancellor’s statement the capital is getting little attention from government and their focus on ‘England outside of London’ sounds like a new country. Taking London’s continued success for granted is a gamble given how hard the city’s economy has been hit by the pandemic with the capital’s recovery slower than in any other region.
“Children in London are more likely to grow up in poverty than children elsewhere in the UK and the numbers out of work in London are higher than the national average. Yet London has received the smallest pot of money from the Levelling Up Fund in England – and this is a paltry reflection of the deep levelling up challenges within the city.”
On transport investment
“The Chancellor committed to “London-style transport” settlements in the rest of the country, but ‘London-style’ risks becoming code for slashed services and cancelled investment unless Transport for London gets the sustainable funding deal it needs.
“A world-class public transport system is critical to London’s competitiveness. And any deterioration of TfL’s services would undermine the competitiveness of the city and harm the contribution London makes to the nation’s coffers.”
On fuel duty
“The Chancellor’s ‘new age of optimism’ needed a strong environmental focus given it’s just a matter of days before world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26.
“We needed to hear much more from the government on how we are to successfully transition to a net zero economy, but instead heard headline announcements of a cut to domestic flight duty and cancelled increases in fuel duty.”
On the OBR downgrading its unemployment forecast from 12% to 5.2%
“It’s good news that the predicted peak in unemployment has been downgraded but pockets of high unemployment remain across the country and the numbers out of work in London are above the national average. While numbers out of work have fallen in the last month or so, until recently nearly 1 in 10 people were unemployed in some boroughs like Haringey, Newham, Brent and Barking and Dagenham demonstrating why levelling up needs a strong focus on London too.”
On the 50 per cent business rates discount for companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors
“Restaurants, shops and other businesses across the capital will raise a glass to a 50 per cent business rates discount, which will provide some reassurance over the next 12 months. But today’s reforms are no substitute for the desperately needed overhaul of business rates so that bricks and mortar businesses can compete with online retail, which doesn’t treat central London’s businesses like a cash cow.”
On the government’s support for working families
“The government’s support for working families doesn’t go far enough. In-work poverty has increased by over 10 per cent over the last decade in London. And with high costs of living in the capital, even the increased National Minimum wage will still leave Londoners without the funding they need to pay for essentials.
“While the reduction in the Universal Credit taper will be welcomed by many working Londoners, it will be of no help to people who have been pushed out of work by the pandemic.
“The Chancellor hasn’t made any changes to housing benefits, meaning that Londoners in high cost, low quality private rented homes will still be paying more than they can afford, just as they face higher heating costs from rising gas prices during a cold winter.”
On public spending increases
“We need to invest in and sustain our vital public services and frontline services to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Local authorities across the capital will welcome moves to reverse cuts to spending since 2010. Boroughs have cut to the bone but with rising budgets pressures for dealing with coronavirus and adult social care it’s not clear how far this extra support will go.”