London and the UK

Centre for London is developing new thinking on how London can connect with the rest of the country.

London: a help or hindrance to the UK?

London has long played an outsized role in the economic, political and cultural life of the UK. But over the last few decades London’s dominance of the UK’s economy has become particularly pronounced. Critics complain that its magnetic power sucks talent and investment away from other UK cities, making it hard for them to thrive.

Of course the Mayor, the City of London Corporation and London business groups have often made the case for London’s contribution to the UK as a whole. But argument isn’t resonating with those outside the city. Only 24 per cent of Britons outside the capital think it has a positive effect on their local economy – the figures falls to less than 10 per cent in Liverpool, Hull and Sheffield.[1]

Research scope

This project will look at how London’s relations to the rest of the country have changed in recent years; how London has positioned itself in the past; how it is perceived; and what the capital could do to address national misgivings.

It will explore opportunities for closer working between London and other cities. We will look at how the Mayor and other London institutions – including its great cultural and educational institutions and its visitor attractions – can support, showcase and engage with the rest of the country.

The project will also explore deeper questions about what London should be doing to spread prosperity as widely as possible to other cities and regions. How can the capital support the strategies – The Northern Powerhouse, the Industrial Strategy, metro mayors – to help regional renaissance and rebalancing?

We do not conceive of this project involving a great deal of new ‘hard’ quantitative analysis or economic modelling. There has already been lots of research on strategies for tackling regional disparities. This project will investigate social and cultural perceptions of London and Londoners amongst the general public, as well as gathering the views of leaders across the UK in a variety of different spheres (such as local government, business, culture and higher education). Through this, we aim to suggest ways in which London can better work with the rest of the UK, to the mutual benefit of both.

The research itself will include:

  • Gathering background information on relations between capital cities and regions in other countries;
  • Interviews and polling to understand better how London and Londoners are perceived by the rest of the country;
  • A series of roundtables with leaders from around the UK to discuss positive measures that could improve relations and help boost the country as a whole.

If you are interested in contributing to the research or attending the launch event, please get in touch with Jack Brown.

[1] Wilcox Z., Nohrova N., Bidgood E. (2014). City views: How do Britain’s cities see London. Centre for Cities and Centre for London.

Supporting Sponsors

This project has been generously supported by