What does the rest of the UK think about London?
As the previous chapter demonstrates, a great deal of research and analysis already exists regarding London’s economic relationship with, and contribution to, the rest of the UK. However, we know much less about how the capital is currently perceived across the rest of the country, and therefore what could be done to improve relations.
Centre for London embarked upon a three part ‘listening exercise’:
- First, by conducting a review of existing polling data.
- Second, Centre for London commissioned opinion polling of Britons living outside of London, in partnership with the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London, who asked similar questions of Londoners. 70
- And third, to gather opinions and test possible solutions amongst decision-makers outside of the capital, Centre for London chose four locations across the UK to conduct deep dive research, holding interviews with a wide range of decision-makers in local and national government (including MPs), business, culture and tourism and higher education, alongside additional ad hoc interviews where relevant. 71
What we already know
So, what can existing polling tell us? A March 2014 Survation poll on English devolution found that just under two thirds of adults in Great Britain agreed that ‘too much of England is run from London’ – a pro-devolution stance that many Londoners would share. However, over 70 per cent agreed that, ‘London gets preferential treatment over most other parts of the UK’ as a result. 72 Polling by the Centre for Cities and Centre for London in May 2014 found 64 per cent of adults living in UK cities outside of London felt the location of Whitehall and Parliament meant that decision-making in the UK was too London-centric. Just 17 per cent felt that Westminster and Whitehall were responsive to local issues where they lived. 73
More recently, YouGov analysis in June 2018 found 45 per cent of Brits had a favourable opinion of London, with 28 per cent expressing an unfavourable view overall. Positive views of the capital reduced as distance from the capital increased, with the North of England, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall being the most anti-London. Anti-Londoners were much more likely to agree with anti-big city statements in general, as well as being almost twice as likely as pro-Londoners to believe that ‘multiculturalism has had a negative impact on the UK.’ 74 But there are London specific issues too: 80 per cent of anti-Londoners, and 51 per cent of pro-Londoners, believed that London gets ‘more than its fair share of public spending’. 75
What the public thinks – Centre for London’s 2018 polling
Building upon these findings, Centre for London’s 2018 polling addressed a range of issues, and the results are sorted into eight categories below.
1. London or Westminster?
We began by testing which of the capital’s many roles first comes to mind when Londoners and non-Londoners think of ‘London’. As Figure 5 demonstrates, for those outside of the capital, London’s role as the seat of national government was the number one result by some margin, with its cultural offering (West End shows, national galleries and museums) and its role as a capital following, albeit some way behind. However, if we look only at those non-Londoners who visit London once a year or more, ‘centre of culture’ comes first (20 per cent), with national government falling to third (17 per cent) after London’s role as the capital of the UK (18 per cent). Londoners, on the other hand, think of London primarily as the UK’s capital city (19 per cent), and as a home to Londoners (18 per cent) Despite being home to the majority of national cultural institutions and sports venues, just 3 per cent of non-Londoners thought of the capital as a place for UK residents to visit.
2. Views of London and Londoners
Both Londoners and non-Londoners were then asked to pick from a list of words to describe the capital, and a separate list of words to describe the city’s residents.
The ‘words to describe London’ list was the same as used for 2014’s City Views. In this area, little has changed. In 2018, both Londoners and non-Londoners agree that the capital is best described as ‘expensive’, ‘crowded’ and ‘diverse’ – with ‘expensive’ the number one word chosen by both groups. The top two words were the same as reported in 2014 (although ‘cosmopolitan’ was third in 2014, rather than ‘diverse’). 76
Those non-Londoners who reported that they either never or rarely visit London were more likely to describe the capital as ‘chaotic’ than ‘diverse’, however. In fact, non-Londoners who rarely or never visit London were noticeably more likely to describe it negatively than those who visit once a year or more, as Figure 6 below shows.
Furthermore, London’s preferred international image as a modern, cutting-edge city isn’t cutting through at home – words like ‘modern’, ‘innovative’ and ‘competitive’ were barely mentioned by Londoners or non-Londoners.
Londoners themselves also have an image problem – they are seen as ‘arrogant’ and ‘insular’ by the rest of the country, and a lot less ‘friendly’ than they think they are themselves (‘friendly’ was the fourth most chosen word by Londoners, with 18 per cent selecting it, but the eighth most chosen word by non-Londoners, selected by just 8 per cent).
However, there is also significant grounds for optimism. Both Londoners and non-Londoners chose ‘diverse’ as the number one word to describe the capital’s residents. And it appears that this word has positive connotations – non-Londoners who visit London regularly (a group which has notably more positive views of the capital overall) were almost twice as likely to pick it as those who do not.
The idea of a ‘liberal metropolitan elite’ also seems to be more prominent within the capital than outside it. Whilst Londoners describe themselves as ‘liberal’ (their third most popular word, chosen by 21 per cent of Londoners), the word barely registered for non-Londoners (the seventh most chosen word, picked by just 9 per cent). For both groups, more respondents chose the word ‘normal’ than the word ‘different’, suggesting that the perceived cultural gap between those who live in the capital and their fellow Brits is not as large as feared.
3. Londoners’ perceptions
As well as polling Londoners on their views, the Mile End Institute also asked Londoners what they thought non-Londoners would say about them. This has proved revealing of how Londoners feel that the rest of the country views them, with some notable perception gaps.
As Figure 7 demonstrates, Londoners expected the rest of the country to pick words like ‘arrogant’, ‘different’, and ‘rich’ much more frequently than they actually did. Londoners also underestimated how many non-Londoners would view them as ‘normal’ or ‘diverse’. Overall, Londoners could be said to be suffering from a small dose of liberal paranoia: not only are they aware of the negative perceptions that non-Londoners have of them, but they also think that these are more strongly felt than they really are.
4. Pride in the capital
Pride in London as the capital city of the UK is significantly lower amongst non-Londoners than Londoners, with 56 per cent of non-Londoners, and 80 per cent of Londoners, saying they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ proud of London. Nonetheless, twice as many non-Londoners say they are proud of London (56 per cent) than those who are not (28 per cent). Pride in London was highest in the South of England, and lowest in Scotland and Wales, which have their own capitals. Scotland was the only region where more people said they were not proud of London as UK capital (42 per cent) than said they were (39 per cent). A majority of respondents in the North, the least proud part of England, still said they were proud of London as the capital city (51 per cent), compared to those who were not (31 per cent).
A 2012 poll by British Future, which asked ‘to what extent does London make you proud to be English’, found that 90 per cent of Londoners and 73 per cent of English adults outside the capital said that they were ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ proud of London. 77 Centre for London’s 2018 polling found that 80 per cent of Londoners and 59 per cent of non-Londoners living elsewhere in England said that they were proud of the capital, a decline of 10 and 14 percentage points respectively. 2012 was the year of the Jubilee and the Olympic Games, with pride in the capital likely to have been at a high, but there has still been a notable decline.
5. Inaccessible, remote, expensive
London is seen as inaccessible by non-Londoners, with a large majority (78 per cent) feeling that living and working in the capital is not an option for them. Of this, 53 per cent said that they thought it was not a realistic option at all (Figure 9).
With living in London seen as an impossibility for the majority of non-Londoners, it is imperative that people at least feel that London is making a contribution to their lives where they live. Unfortunately, as Figures 10 and 11 demonstrate, whilst a large majority agree that London makes a positive contribution to the UK economy, only a very small percentage of people think that it contributes to the economy where they live specifically.
Comparison with 2014’s City Views report by the Centre for Cities and Centre for London reveals that these results have become more polarised. Whilst 66 per cent agreed that London contributed to the UK economy overall in 2014, the corresponding figure is now 77 per cent. But only 16 per cent feel that London contributes to their local economy – City Views reported 24 per cent. 78 As City Views only polled residents of other UK cities, this may represent a city centric view, meaning that those outside of the UK’s other big cities are even less likely to feel the benefit of London’s economic contribution where they live. Alternatively, it may also represent a worsening over time. Either conclusion gives cause for concern.
6. Decentralise to make a ‘fairer’ country?
Given the above results, it is surprising how uninterested both Londoners and non-Londoners are in the idea of moving institutions out of London to make the UK ‘a fairer place’. ‘Decentralisation’ (as distinct from ‘devolution’, which means devolving powers more locally, rather than moving institutions out of the capital) is current government policy, with the relocation of Channel 4 and a pledge to move civil servants out of London in the current government’s 2017 manifesto.
Yet it is surprisingly unpopular. When given a list of ten institutions that they could move out of London to make the UK a ‘fairer’ place, including central government, the civil service, London’s financial centre and national galleries and museums, 40 per cent of non-Londoners said ‘None of these – I don’t think moving anything out of London would make the UK fairer.’ The next most popular option – moving government departments such as the Treasury or the Home Office – was chosen by just 19 per cent. This was despite respondents being allowed to pick up to three institutions. The same was true for Londoners – twice as many Londoners also picked ‘none’ than chose any institution.
Whereas what limited interest did exist amongst non-Londoners was focused on moving national government and the civil service out of the capital, Londoners themselves were most interested in moving themselves out, into new towns (which could tie into the idea that the capital is seen as crowded and expensive). Only one in ten people (Londoners and non-Londoners) picked ‘national news media – print or television’ as something that should be moved out of London to make the UK fairer.
Given recent debates on regional transport infrastructure investment, Centre for London asked non-Londoners if they felt London had better or worse public transport than where they lived. A decisive majority of those outside of the capital (69 per cent) said that they felt London had better public transport provision than where they lived, with just seven per cent saying the opposite.
When asked if they felt that people living in London had ‘harder’ or ‘easier’ commutes to other Brits, Londoners perhaps unsurprisingly felt that they had the harder time of it. 45 per cent of Londoners said that they have ‘harder’ commutes than other Brits, with 24 per cent saying the opposite. More interestingly, however, non-Londoners agreed: 36 per cent of those living outside of the capital said that Londoners had harder commutes, compared to 32 per cent who said the opposite. So, whilst London may have the most impressive (and expensive) transport infrastructure, non-Londoners don’t necessarily envy their commutes – and both Londoners and non-Londoners would surely welcome investment in improving public transport where they live.
Half of non-Londoners polled said that they visited the capital less than once a year or had never visited. But having personal experience of visiting London, whether for work or for leisure, makes a notable difference to how non-Londoners view the capital, as mentioned above. A particularly large gap can be noted in pride in the capital: nearly three quarters of those who visit London once a year or more said that they were proud of the capital, whereas this figure was 45 per cent for those who do not visit. There is, of course, a cause and effect issue here – perhaps those that visit the capital regularly do so because they have more positive views of London, rather than vice versa. However, when taken alongside other results, this correlation does seem to suggest that those who know the capital well have more positive views of it.
What decision-makers think – Centre for London’s deep dives and other interviews
To assess opinion amongst decision-makers, a series of semi-structured interviews were undertaken across the UK. These interviews were designed to find out what leaders in a range of cities, towns and rural areas across the country felt about London, but also to gather opinions on what London was doing well, and what could be done better, to improve relations with the rest of the UK. The results of these interviews are divided into two categories below: the ‘good news’ and the ‘bad news’, each subdivided into five key points. These interviews also inform the following chapters.
The good news:
1. London is the UK’s engine
London’s economic contribution is widely recognised and appreciated. One senior official in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) described London as ‘an essential driver of the UK economy’, with another stating that: ‘A strong London is good for Manchester, there’s no doubt about that.’ As a Lincolnshire council leader described, London is ‘the UK’s engine. And if London isn’t doing well, then we’re all screwed.’ A senior official in Lincolnshire drew a clear distinction between London’s global city role and that played by other UK cities:
London is a global city, making global money (…) Lincolnshire would be a poorer place if London wasn’t doing what it’s doing.
A rhetorical question from within the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce sums up the consensus view:
What would life be like if London didn’t exist? Would we all be ten times bigger? Or would the UK just be a lot smaller?
2. London is a global magnet
As a business leader on the Greater Manchester LEP described, London is an international barometer of the UK’s economic health: ‘If London starts failing, then international business will view Manchester as less appealing too.’ An official in Glasgow City Council claimed that London’s global city status meant that they saw it as an asset, not a rival:
London’s not really a competitor to us. London is a global city, it’s like a country within a country. […} Actually, we need a better London, because it competes against Paris, Tokyo, New York – it doesn’t compete against Glasgow.
London’s role as a global magnet also means that businesses in Cornwall can meet potential international investors there to ‘make the Cornwall sales pitch’, as a figure from the Cornwall Development Company observed.
London’s role as an international hub for business also produces spin-off business for other cities. A senior figure in Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency noted that having ‘a thriving global city just two hours down the road’ had helped in generating ‘near-shoring projects, companies looking to balance their operations between London and a near-shore centre with different advantages’. This is even true as far afield as Glasgow, where a business leader acknowledged that the city’s financial service sector is ‘almost entirely based on the relationship that Glasgow has with London’. London’s international reputation also has an impact on tourism, as a figure from Lincoln’s Business Improvement Group acknowledges: ‘London’s the arrival point, and we’re part of the circuit.’
3. London sets the standard
As a prominent world city, London is also seen as a centre of innovation, and a place to find best practice. As one senior figure in higher education in Cornwall noted, London ‘is where we go to learn, to do business, to meet, and a source of investment and opportunity.’ London’s success can also ‘set the benchmark’ for other parts of the UK. A senior figure within Transport for the North observed that the ‘perception in the media, and amongst politicians, that London gets much more money than anywhere else’ can help to raise ambitions for other parts of the country: ‘If London is going to get £15 billion for something, we want £15 billion in the North. (…) London sets the benchmark, and then there is a sense of, “Why can’t we do that in the North?”’ In a similar fashion, London can also lead the way for successful devolved government, with others then empowered to argue for their own powers. For one GMCA figure,
London provided the template, the platform, that made it possible for us to have the conversations that we’ve had towards having a more mature, devolved authority.
4. London buys our products
London and Londoners are also an important market for goods produced across the UK. This was particularly reflected in Cornwall, where a member of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP told Centre for London that: ‘London is the main place that can actually afford our products.’ An official dealing with economic growth and development in Cornwall Council observed that London ‘is becoming an increasingly important market for high quality, high value produce from Cornwall, from food and drink to jewellery, generated by artisans here. The London market loves it.’ Ultimately, as a senior official in the council summarised: ‘London is a place that we do a lot of business.’
5. London is a national hub
As one Mancunian interviewee described, ‘all roads lead to London’. With the country’s infrastructure providing access to the capital for most parts of the UK, it is often easiest for people from different parts of the country to meet in London, as a senior official in Cornwall Council also noted:
It’s a hub – not just a global hub, but also a national hub, for somewhere like Cornwall. If you’re going to meet someone from Sheffield, it’s easiest for us both to coalesce into London.
London’s role as a global transport hub is also helpful – even to distant Glasgow and Cornwall. Glasgow’s internal connectivity with Heathrow airport gives it connectivity to the world, as this business leader noted: ‘Most of our smoked salmon, for example, goes out in a hold from Heathrow to the Middle East and elsewhere.’ The Cornish MP interviewed for this research highlighted improved connectivity to Heathrow as an asset which they expected to boost Cornish inward investment, business and tourism.
…and the bad news:
1. London will eat itself
There is a widespread perception that London’s domination of the UK economy is neither good for the capital or for the rest of the country. In the words of one Manchester City councillor: ‘London has to start investing in the rest of the country, because it can’t do it by itself – it will kill itself if it tries to do it by itself.’ A Glasgow MP told Centre for London that the capital’s dominance of the UK ‘isn’t particularly a very good thing for London necessarily either, if London becomes overheated.’
Ultimately, a widely held view is that London is overheating because of its own insatiable appetite for growth and investment. As a third sector Chief Executive in Boston put it:
You have to feed it all the time. And the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets – the more you need the Crossrails, the third runways, all of that – because you’re encouraging it to grow more.
2. London gets more than its fair share
Many involved in local government felt that London gets an unfair amount of public funding, and not just in transport, but in public services in general. A senior figure in the Local Government Association described what they felt was the consensus view in local government outside of the capital:
I pick it up at the LGA all the time – the idea that the shires are being mugged over, because all the government money goes to London. (…) It’s London where the most noticeable numbers crop up. I think Kensington and Chelsea had more property value than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all put together. So, while you’ve got those anomalies, it is going to be quite polarised, in terms of people’s perceptions. I don’t think most people are bitter and twisted about it, but when you talk about local government, it always comes up – ‘If we only got the average of what people get in London, it would be a lot better around here.’
Decisions over funding can also draw criticism, and accusations of a pro-London bias. Badly timed or seemingly imbalanced funding announcements can reinforce this notion, and not just in the area of transport investment, but in arts and heritage too: ‘Each time, London always seems to get more.’
3. London is too powerful a magnet
Whilst London is appreciated as a powerful international hub for investment and tourism, it is widely felt that its spokes are too weak. Those tasked with luring inward investment into other UK cities say that London’s dominance of foreign direct investment projects can feel insurmountable: ‘That’s tough to have in your backyard. It’s a tough magnet to manoeuvre around (…) I think the rest of the UK struggles for airtime sometimes’. Once investment (or investors) arrive in London, it then proves difficult to draw them out, as this business figure from Cornwall’s Chamber of Commerce observed:
Cornwall is a long way from London, and therefore if the money is hubbed in London, it tends to run into the sand as it travels outwards, and so the money has often run out by the time it gets to Cornwall (…) It does suck in a lot of money, it gets a very unfair proportion of private investment, but we’ve got to see that as an attraction for the UK as a whole, use that as a hub, and make sure that the spokes from that are stronger and better organised.
A Cornish MP echoes these sentiments: ‘A lot of investment in London doesn’t really spread outside the relatively tight circle of the M25 (…) We need to get better at spilling that economic activity around the country’.
Then there is the ‘dark star’ theory, that London actively sucks in talent and investment, and that its gravitational pull is too great to resist, from Glasgow down to Cornwall. One Glasgow business leader claimed that London’s ‘dark star’ role is a particularly English problem: ‘As soon as you cross the border, you can feel the magnet, hear the sucking sound…’ The draw of London can mean that even Glasgow can struggle to attract senior talent: ’You know you can’t compete with the depth and richness of London, as an alpha city, so your offer has to be much more about quality of life. But that is a bit of a battle.’ This sentiment was echoed in Lincolnshire and in Cornwall. And this official at Cornwall Council claimed that London’s appeal made it harder for Cornwall itself to grow:
I think that during the 20th century, having one place that’s been doing so well has led to younger people of working age not feeling that they have a future in Cornwall, which has had an impact in terms of us having higher dependency ratios (…) we’ve got this great big magnet, this honey pot, to compete with.
4. Guilty by association?
When asked open-ended questions about ‘London’, interviewees repeatedly brought up issues with central government. One Manchester councillor described ‘London centrism’ as ‘a mindset, not held by all MPs, but once they get into the Houses of Parliament, something gets into their minds, that in order for this country to stand on the world stage, we have to invest everything in our capital.’ Specific national government policies, seen as ‘London-centric’, are often cited as reinforcing this idea. Examples include:
- The ‘Green Book’ appraisal methods used by HM Treasury for infrastructure projects being skewed towards already prosperous areas like London.
- Ignorance of how large scale migration could affect and be perceived in rural areas, as opposed to already diverse and comparatively densely populated London boroughs.
- National resources for the provision of affordable housing being concentrated in London and the South East.
- A new national ‘traineeship’ scheme for 16-18 year olds being designed with GCSE entry requirements that are more often achieved in London than in the North of England.
- Post-study work visas being based on earning a minimum salary that may be around the average graduate salary in London, but is above it elsewhere in the UK.
- The tightening up of mortgage rules following the financial crash, perceived to be caused by property speculation in London, but now applied universally across the country.
- A general sense that governments would rather invest in London to address the capital’s overheating, rather than trying to address this by investing in other cities.
Expanding on the ‘Green Book’ point above, multiple interviewees mentioned that they felt that the Treasury’s current methodology for appraising infrastructure projects was inherently skewed towards London, where a better rate of economic return is already all but guaranteed. Whilst the ‘Green Book’ was updated in March 2018, and does provides tools for taking social and other factors into consideration, these are underused by ministers and officials. But the social and strategic benefits of infrastructure investment elsewhere in the country can be just as important, as this Northern MP observed:
Government needs to start, instead of always just talking about the net benefits, which quite often are the benefits realised by London and cities like that, they need to start looking a little deeper at what it means for parts of our country that aren’t feeling that. It’s not good enough to just go on about the net benefits, it’s: what problems is that infrastructure solving? Three miles of road in my constituency, which took a hell of a long time, has had an almost immediate impact, not just in terms of investment, but also in terms of people’s lives.
It was also suggested that the current approach to selecting infrastructure projects would not only fail to address regional imbalances in the UK, but actively fuel them. As academics Diane Coyle and Marianne Sensier, put it, ‘The logical conclusion of the pure agglomeration economies approach is that all activity should be in London’. 79 This leads to a kind of catch-22 scenario, whereby an area needs investment to stimulate growth, but government can only justify investment if the conditions already exist for growth.
Whitehall civil servants were also criticised for bringing a London-centric perspective to national decisions, whether intentionally or not, by virtue of being London-based. Even business organisations such as the CBI and the Institute of Directors were thought to have a London bias, due to their location and membership, leading to policies that reflect the interests of London-based organisations rather than their regional counterparts. Ultimately, London is seen as a ‘bubble’, and ‘a lot of people that live in London do not have an understanding of the issues that exist outside of that context.’
Within this context, there is a feeling that whilst relations with London’s own devolved government and other institutions may be improving in some areas, relations with ‘London’ as the centre of national government are getting worse. Brexit was repeatedly cited as a concern, from a fear that the negotiations are being driven by and in the interests of London alone, to concerns about how the new Shared Prosperity Fund will apportion money across the UK to replace EU regional funding. The devolution agenda, which was almost universally desired and advocated for, was widely felt to have stalled.
In addition, interviewees in England were asked about whether they felt that Westminster and Whitehall were too dominant in making decisions locally. In Boston, resentment of London was explained by one senior Boston Borough Council official as ‘not a distrust or disdain for London, but a feeling that London perhaps wasn’t switched on to the issues that matter in this part of the country, and so perhaps local decision-making would be better’. An equivalent figure in Cornwall Council noted the ‘piecemeal’ nature of central government funding for Cornwall, which made it difficult to set a local strategy for growth:
You inevitably become reactive (…) it has a bad effect on Cornwall, but it’s bad for the whole country, because we’re not as able to stand on our own two feet as we should be (…) There should be some methodology at Westminster and Whitehall to acknowledge that Cornwall and other rural areas have specific issues that are not necessarily being addressed by one all-embracing government policy. (…) People here do know what the issues are, and could spend money better and more appropriately.
One Manchester-based cultural figure claimed that the city region’s devolved government was ‘refreshing’ as it boosted pride and confidence in the region: ‘you can’t just be victims’. But enthusiasm for further devolution across England came with an important caveat, in this case articulated in Manchester:
When London calls for the complete ringfencing of its entire tax base to London, that tends to cause palpitations up here in the North, because we’re dependent on that to support the economy.
5. London isn’t up to scratch
Another line of criticism relates to London itself, as a place and a capital city. Whilst there is widespread appreciation for the wealth it generates and redistributes, as well as its role as a global hub for people, business and innovation, there is some sense that London itself is not working. When asked if they would consider living and working in London in the future, the majority of interviewees said that they wouldn’t, citing affordability and quality of life factors. Several interviewees mentioned the Grenfell Tower fire as highlighting London’s own issues with inequality: in Manchester, ‘It seems quite a cruel place.’ From Lincoln: ‘It seems like a very difficult place to be if you don’t have money. I have no idea why people want to come from abroad to London. (…) It doesn’t seem very safe. It doesn’t seem very caring.’
Overall, the disconnect between London and the rest of the UK is nothing new – nor is it unique to the UK. Both opinion polling and interviews have suggested that, whilst there is much that could and should be done to improve relations between the capital and the rest of the UK, there is also plenty to be optimistic about.
There is a broad consensus between the political, business and cultural leaders interviewed and the wider public polled for this project that London is, on balance, a positive thing for the nation. There is widespread understanding that London contributes significantly to the UK’s economy, and there is also plenty of evidence to suggest that negative views of the capital reduce amongst those have direct experience of to it. The majority of the country remains proud of London as a capital city, and Londoners appear to believe that the rest of the country dislikes them more than it actually does.
However, there is significant room for improvement in how London demonstrates that its economic success tangibly helps growth and development in other regions. There is a widespread perception that London gets more than its fair share, both in terms of public and private investment. That this perception persists despite widespread acceptance of London’s significant overall contribution to the UK economy, presents difficulties for future policy making. A remedy also seems out of reach: leaders outside of the capital do not feel that they have access to the tools they require to succeed, and the public neither feels that living in London is an option for them, nor feels the benefit of London’s economic contribution in the places where they live.
Relations with London’s devolved government, as well as its various business and cultural institutions, are generally thought by leaders across England to be improving, even if relations with national government are not. Decisions taken in Westminster and Whitehall can be seen as favouring the capital, and so London both needs to be granted the ability to take more of its own decisions for itself, and to work extra hard to ensure that it is reaching out and working with the rest
of the UK.