This report outlines the many ways in which London is essential to the success of the UK.
Following our phase 1 report on London’s unique levelling up challenges, this second and final phase of our research programme on the levelling up agenda looks outwards, highlighting why the capital is so important for the country’s economy and culture.
The pace of political change this year has made it hard to know what central government want from levelling up. But an important and legitimate discussion about tackling geographical inequality has also opened up the risk that London needs to be disadvantaged in order for levelling up to succeed.
Our report is clear that economic growth is not a zero-sum game. For the rest of the country to succeed, London does not have to be “levelled down”, and instead, we argue that every region of the UK can work together for collective success.
As part of our research, we asked people outside and inside London for their thoughts on levelling up, as well as what they think is good and bad about the city. The feedback from these groups is clear: the public don’t blame Londoners for inequality across the country, or hold personal animosity towards Londoners.
Furthermore, people agree that London is a place with opportunity and diversity. They also recognise London as a global representative of the UK, though there was less acknowledgement of London’s vital tax contribution, or the importance of the City’s financial sector to the national economy.
For the capital’s future to be safeguarded and its needs to be recognised as part of the levelling up agenda, we are clear that London’s leaders need to come together as a shared voice. By co-operating and working alongside their regional counterparts, they can encourage the end of divisive rhetoric and policy that supports competition between cities, and instead support inclusive growth for all.
- The government should increase overall investment spending in every region of the UK, including London. This would protect the capital’s ability to raise tax revenues and support the national economy at a difficult time.
- People both inside and outside London generally agree on the good and bad things about it, with little personal animosity towards Londoners. But messages about London’s economic contribution to the UK are not viewed positively.
- London makes a wide range of contributions to the UK, not just financial. These range from attracting international tourism to creating transport innovation, supporting refugees and encouraging foreign direct investment.
- To prevent the risk of funding to London being cut, London’s leaders and advocates should work together to end the language of “us and them”, often used to compare the capital with the rest of the UK.