living-on-the-edge_twitter-2

Protecting the capital – Harris Review backs LCCI recommendations

In October Lord Toby Harris published his wide-ranging independent report into what could be done to improve London’s resources and readiness to respond to a major terrorist incident. The Harris review commends London’s emergency services, but makes 127 recommendations for the Mayor, the government and other agencies to consider.

Calling for this review was one of the first major actions taken by Mayor Sadiq Khan after he took office, in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks including at the Bataclan in Paris in November 2015, and in Brussels in March.

The resilience of London in the face of a major incident, terrorism-related or otherwise, has been a focus of the LCCI for a number of years. In June, the Chamber published a report – Living on the Edge: Housing London’s Blue Light Emergency Services – which showed that more than half of the capital’s emergency service workers live outside London, raising concerns about the city’s preparedness to respond to major incidents. It found that high housing costs, in particular, meant that a total of 54 per cent of frontline ‘Blue light’ police, fire and paramedic staff now live outside London, and have to commute into the capital.

Stress

Blue light workers interviewed for the report said lengthy travel times and inevitable travel delays added to the stress and strain of shift working – and could impact on the emergency services’ response to incidents, particularly their ability to deploy and sustain large number of emergency responders in the field.

In the report LCCI made a series of recommendations to the Mayor to help tackle this problem, from changing planning guidelines and providing rental deposit loans, to the Mayor becoming the landlord for emergency services housing.

The LCCI report was welcomed by the Chair of the GLA London Resilience Forum, Fiona Twycross AM, who said “In the event of a major incident it is the dedicated staff from our blue light services who we will rely on, so we owe it to them to take action”.

Endorsed

Soon after publication, LCCI’s director of policy and public affairs Sean McKee was invited by Lord Harris to discuss the detail of the report, as it related to his inquiry, and two recommendations have subsequently been endorsed.

The Mayor of London asks the Chair of the London Resilience Forum to consider how London’s preparedness to deal with a major incident may be impacted by a majority of the three main ‘blue light’ emergency services workers living outside London.

The Mayor of London should consult the London boroughs and the Corporation of London on an alteration to the London Plan formally to identify the need for specialist emergency services worker housing as an important planning issue for London.

LCCI awaits the Mayor’s formal response to the Harris Review, and hopes that he will take forward these – and other recommendations – as a matter of urgency.

The Chamber recently welcomed the news that the London Fire Brigade has now implemented the report’s second recommendation, by providing an interest free tenancy deposit loan for all permanent London Fire Brigade staff. This is a really positive step, but more needs to be done to ensure that the capital’s housing crisis, already the cause of so many issues for the city, doesn’t also undermine the ability of our emergency workers to do their essential job.


Rob Griggs, Head of Public Affairs Team at LCCI

Today David Cameron stepped down after six years as Prime Minister.

He held a meeting in 10 Downing Street to discuss how the hand over would take place.

He attended Prime Ministers Questions, where he made his final farewell statement.

He was 'clapped out' of Number 10 by all of the staff, before going to see the Her Majesty The Queen to formally resign.

Mrs Theresa May then took over as Prime Minister. She was clapped in by all the Number 10 staff.

Chancellor Hammond moves London in right direction

New steps towards devolution for London were welcomed by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry following November’s Autumn Statement.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that London will receive £3.15 billion as its share of national housing budget to deliver more than 90,000 homes.

In addition the government will devolve the adult education budget to London and employment services. Equally welcome news came as the government also said it would continue to work with London to explore further devolution of powers over the coming months.

LCCI chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: “Overall there are a lot of encouraging noises and we welcome the moves towards devolution for London in terms of the £3.15 billion housing fund for new homes as well as adult education and employment support services.

“The doubling of UK export finance capacity is also good news for business.

Economic success

“Likewise we welcome investment in infrastructure, in faster broadband and tech research. All these are vital if we are to maintain our competitiveness as a global city and the rest of the country is to benefit from London’s economic success.

“But we all know, as the Chancellor himself acknowledged, that these are uncertain times for businesses and we need further reassurance and more specifics.”

In its October report, London business and Brexit: Reactions, expectations and requirements, LCCI made the recommendation to government it should use set-pieces in the political calendar such commit to investing or progressing strategic London infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2, airport runways and river crossings.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement also indicates that the government looks forward to receiving the business case for Crossrail 2 – a response welcomed by LCCI.


Autumn views

Many of the opinions expressed about the Chancellor’s approach mentioned that his general lack of drama was a good thing – serious challenges require overtly serious responses.

  • The view from City Hall was that the Autumn Statement signalled “the start of a longterm process of giving London government the control it needs to grow and protect the capital’s economy from the current economic uncertainty.” However Mayor Sadiq Khan voiced his disappointment that the chance was missed to devolve to the capital some control over suburban rail services which he believes would have led to improved services for millions of passengers.
  • The respected London Communications Agency weren’t expecting a great deal for the capital noting the Chancellor’s view that economic growth in the UK had been concentrated for too long in London and the South East. However the agency were relieved that that there was no suggestion of “dragging the capital down” and pointed out that London got “rather more by the back door as a result of the government’s devolution agenda and the national need to address the housing crisis.”
  • Picking up on the boost to export finance, Institute of Export director general Lesley Batchelor said: “This is excellent news as UK exporters need vital support to access overseas markets – especially in these uncertain times. Any government support in winning and fulfilling contracts is greatly welcomed to help equip UK businesses to fulfil international demand.”
  • Adam Marshall, British Chambers of Commerce director general, said that the Chancellor had delivered a “responsible, solid and focused package that will reassure both business and markets. “Increased resources for local and regional transport infrastructure, broadband, housing and innovation will boost business confidence at a critical moment. The Chancellor’s strong focus on the growth requirements of our cities, regions and nations will not go unnoticed in business communities across the UK.”
permits-points-and-visas

Securing practical immigration for post-Brexit London

Immigration has underpinned London’s economic, social and cultural development over centuries, helping make it the great city it is today.

Following June’s referendum and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), immigration has been front and centre of the UK’s public policy debate. When LCCI took soundings of London business leaders through roundtable discussions and polling over the summer, by far the issue of most concern to London’s businesses was the status of their foreign employees – particularly those from the EU – and how they would be able to access overseas talent once Brexit happens.

It is in this context that LCCI published a new report, Permits, Points and Visas: Securing practical immigration for post-Brexit London, at City Hall, which sets out practical proposals to review, renew and refresh the UK immigration system to keep London, and the wider United Kingdom, globally competitive in the wake of Brexit.

The role of migrant workers in driving London’s economy

The report builds on economic analysis commissioned by LCCI from the Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr), which notes that non-UK migrant employees currently constitute 25 per cent of the capital’s workforce (three times more than in the rest of the UK), made a £44 billion GVA contribution and paid £13 billion in direct tax revenues in the past year. London’s businesses are particularly dependent on EU nationals (15.4 per cent of the workforce), rather than non-EU nationals (9.3 per cent of the workforce), which raises concerns around the impact of restricting the current freedom of movement of EU citizens post-Brexit.

Migrants also fill substantial skills gaps in sectors vital to the success of London’s economy; 24 per cent of positions in the financial industry and 36 per cent of construction jobs are currently filled by non-UK nationals. Cebr’s analysis reveals that the departure of EU migrants from London’s workforce would be economically harmful, impacting upon various key industries and putting pressure on public funds.

Looking to the future, Cebr finds that it would be particularly detrimental if new EU migrants would have to enter Britain under the same points based system that currently applies to non-EU nationals: by 2020, London could have lost access to 160,000 migrant workers, and there would be a negative impact on economic output (£7 billion) and direct tax contributions (£2 billion).

LCCI’s new report draws from this economic case and addresses two key questions:

  • How to practically treat the 771,000 EU nationals currently employed within London firms.
  • How to realistically plan to process future migrant workers that London will need, in the short to medium term at least.

The challenge of EU citizens

Following the Referendum result, the government released a statement saying that it “fully expected” to protect the legal status of EU nationals working in the UK. However, a statement does not provide legal certainty; International Trade Minister Liam Fox MP has suggested that EU nationals’ uncertain status could be a ‘main card’ in Brexit negotiations. More must be done to provide clarity. LCCI polling over the summer found a quarter of businesses (24%) indicating the position of their EU employees was causing uncertainty.

As such, the first recommendation of LCCI’s new report is that the Mayor of London should champion a single-issue ‘London Work Visa’, granting indefinite leave to remain to reassure current EU national employees and their London employers.

London’s particular skills needs

Cebr’s analysis reveals that, while all regions across the UK have their own particular skills requirements, none is as entwined and reliant upon migrant labour as the economy of the London Region. Around the world many examples can be found of countries that have successfully implemented immigration systems that are responsive to regional skill needs.

Aside from international examples, there are domestic precedents for tailoring immigration controls to specific regions and sectors of the economy. From the inception of the UK’s current immigration system, it was recognised Scotland had specific and differing labour needs to the rest of the UK. As such, Scotland has a separate ‘Shortage Occupation List’, identifying medical and scientific positions for which Scotland employers don’t have to demonstrate no local candidates can be found, before hiring a non-EEA national.

LCCI wants the Government to acknowledge that London also needs a different immigration status through a ‘Targeted Migration Area’ designation, as its labour market needs are arguably unique within the UK. Such a status could be temporary, for a transitional period, to safeguard both the London and UK economy, post-Brexit. In addition, like Scotland, London should have a separate ‘Shortage Occupation List’, acknowledging London’s particular skills needs.

A Capital Work Permit

With Brexit happening as early as 2018, considerable national benefit could also be derived from reviewing and amending provisions of the immigration system now, to provide for London’s distinct migration profile with a new system of regional work permits. This proposal would not be a radical departure from the existing system; responsibility for all UK immigration will remain with the Home Office. However, London City Hall and London business can offer a supportive role in devising future immigration controls for the capital that pay regard to the prevailing national public mood on migration yet offer practical solutions to the capital’s labour and skills requirements.

One proposal is that the Office of Mayor of London and established Business Organisations, including LCCI, could together seek to form a ‘Work Permit Sponsorship Body’ for the London Region. That Body could be licensed by UKVI to act as a broker – with London employers on certificates of sponsorship, and with non-UK applicants for work permits – for the London region, under specified Home Office immigration criteria.

Holders of a Capital Work Permit could then have the permission to work (and live) within London as defined by the capital’s 33 local authority areas. The number of permits granted, and prioritization of applications could be informed by an annual skills audit, which could for example be conducted by the London business organisations. The Capital Work Permit would be time limited and tied to a contract of employment, and should signal that London remains open for business.

Keeping London competitive

London’s position as a national economic hub is well established; the capital contributes heavily to UK economic output and tax collection. However, businesses have signalled very clearly that London’s economy is under threat. There are significant ongoing labour and skills needs over and above any other UK region, and – especially following Brexit – access to sufficient numbers of skilled workers cannot be guaranteed.

What we are asking for does not constitute a radical departure from the existing system, rather a degree of regional variation that will help safeguarding London’s access to talent, and work alongside a major effort to boost our domestic skills base.

LCCI’s proposals to review, renew and refresh the UK Immigration system will help keeping London, and the wider UK economy, globally competitive in the wake of Brexit.

The Mayor has committed to keeping London open. We have started the debate by providing evidence-based proposals on ways to help this happen. Now comes the time to discuss these proposals with officials at City Hall and the Home Office so that London firms can get clarity as soon as possible about how they are going to access much-required talent in the future.


Thomas Wagemaakers, Policy Research Officer at LCCI

siwan

Boosting business confidence

The late Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said at the time of the 1964 sterling crisis that “a week is a long time in politics”. How, one wonders, would Mr Wilson describe the current political climate in the UK?

In the year since the last Autumn Statement a lot has changed, to say the least. We have a new Prime Minister, new government and a decision to see the UK leave the European Union.

During this year’s Autumn Statement, the new Chancellor Philip Hammond will outline his vision for Britain’s economic future and detail how the government will look to ‘reset’ its economic policy in light of the Brexit vote.

Brexit has brought with it an air of uncertainty, and whilst initial indications suggest that London businesses are taking a pragmatic and level-headed approach to the referendum outcome, business confidence has fallen.

In its submission to the Treasury the Chamber urged the new Chancellor to focus on three key areas in order to boost business confidence.

Address business uncertainty

London’s businesses face a number of cost pressures, including the Apprenticeship Levy, the National Living Wage, the rising costs of commercial space and the understandable wage demands from employees struggling with the capital’s chronic housing crisis. In this context, and at a time of uncertainty following the EU Referendum result, many of London’s businesses, including its army of SMEs, are facing a significant additional burden through increases in the amount of business rates they will pay as a result of October’s rates revaluation.

LCCI believes that the business rates revaluation risks a profound – if unintentional – impact on London’s economy. LCCI has long warned of the crippling effect a surge in business rates would have upon our SMEs in particular. London’s high streets face a significant threat with many businesses facing the prospect of having to move to more affordable boroughs, nearby regions or even stop trading altogether. We want the government to assess the potential impact of significant new ratings on London businesses across different boroughs and across various sectors, and introduce enhanced transitional reliefs for businesses facing big increases in 2017.

As set out in our response to the government’s recent proposals to allow local government to retain 100 per cent of business rates, LCCI believes that there is a sufficient case, given the disproportionate impact of the current business rates system on London, for government to consider substantive changes to the revaluations model, including breaking the link between revaluations and the fixed total tax yield generated. London’s business rates could be ‘de-coupled’ from the national valuation system to help prevent future, punitive rises.

Focus on infrastructure

Investment in housing and transport is a priority for London, not simply as a way to manage the impact of population growth but also if London – and the wider UK economy – is to realise the potential of that growth in terms of economic output and productivity. Practically, this means moving forward strategic London transport infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2 and additional East London river crossings.

One of the greatest infrastructure challenges the capital faces over the coming years is providing sufficient numbers of homes for working Londoners. Local authorities and housing associations are sources of housebuilding with untapped potential. They are, however, hindered by their inability to borrow sufficiently to invest in housing. Removing borrowing caps on local authority Housing Revenue Accounts would release funds for investment.

Further fiscal devolution 

London faces an enormous challenge over the coming decades, as the capital’s population heads towards 10 million by 2030, up from 8.6 million today. To sustain this growth will require significant, sustained investment in the capital’s physical, digital and skills infrastructure. This investment is best secured and directed to where it is needed by decision-makers within, and responsible for, London.

To sustain growth and to ensure that the capital remains a leading global city, London should have greater freedom to invest in its own infrastructure and broader development, and more certainty over its future funding. The capital’s business environment could be transformed if the GLA and London local authorities were given a greater stake in economic growth through enhanced fiscal devolution.

The government should consider carefully and respond to the findings of the reconvened London Finance Commission and establish a ‘roadmap’ to further fiscal devolution to the capital. As the government looks to ‘reset’ its economic policy in light of the Brexit vote, there is significant opportunity to address not only the short term uncertainty maintained by the Brexit result but also the pre-existing, structural risks to the capital’s future competitiveness which cannot afford to be ignored. It is time to grasp the nettle.


Siwan Puw, LCCI Policy Manager

 

img_6890

London Young Chamber gathers pace

A school gymnasium packed with hundreds of teenagers might not be everyone’s ideal place to spend an evening, but for seven Chamber members it was recently their Wednesday night destination of choice.

Marking Young Chamber’s first major activity of the autumn term, Croydon Chamber members, Andall Legal, The HR Dept, Scaramanga Marketing and Coversure Croydon joined forces with LCCI members,  Capita Asset Services, MACS Plasterboards and IMSM to meet with students and talk about opportunities in their industry at the Woodcote High School careers convention. Each year Woodcote teams up  with fellow Croydon schools, Riddlesdown Collegiate and Oasis Academy Coulsdon, to provide their 1500 Year 10 to 13 students – 14 to 18 year olds – with the opportunity to meet with businesses, education providers and public sector organisations such as the armed forces and the Metropolitan Police to help shape their thinking as they make important choices about their GCSE and A level options and their potential future career paths.

Value

Fintan O’Toole, LCCI board member and director of The HR Dept, noted the steady stream of young people who were keen to learn more about the world of business. “Young Chamber is a fabulous way for Chamber members to genuinely add value to their local community and I’d encourage others to get involved.”

London Young Chamber is developing apace with eight schools now recruited across Croydon and its neighbouring borough Sutton, each looking for support from Chamber members to help prepare their young people for life beyond the school gates. Topping the schools’ wish lists are providing inspirational business speakers; business people meeting students at careers fairs and conducting mock interviews. To fulfill their needs we are looking for members willing to devote a little time to supporting us in our Young Chamber schools. Just a couple of hours can make a real difference to students in helping them to better understand the wealth of career options available as they begin to plan their future.

Participation

Currently piloting in and around the Croydon area with the invaluable support of the Croydon Chamber Committee and the Commercial Education Trust (see box left), London Young Chamber will look to expand to other parts of the capital in the months ahead. We welcome  participation from our members, however large or small, as we strive to genuinely move the dial in promoting business and enterprise through education.

Croydon Chamber of Commerce chair and Solicitor at Andall Legal, Nicolina Andall commented: “The Chamber committee was honoured to be asked to lead the Young Chamber pilot in London. Many of us already support local schools in the area and Young Chamber is a great way for us to co-ordinate this and introduce other members to the concept. We are looking forward to working with the London Chamber team as it plans to expand across other parts of London.”


If you want to get involved with Young Chamber contact project consultant Helen Gray, 020 7203 1892, hgray@londonchamber.co.uk

AFET Committee on foreign Affairs - Public hearing ' the Common Foreign and Security under Treaty of Lisbon : Unlocking its Full Potential '

The future of trade relationships between the UK and the rest of the world

At her speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister referred to ‘Global Britain’. She talked about ‘a country with the self-confidence and the freedom to look beyond the continent of Europe and to the economic and diplomatic opportunities of the wider world’.  This theme was a constant in the referendum campaign and also appears to be a central plank of the post-referendum Brexit agenda and appears in a number of speeches made by Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, who has spoken of ‘scoping out’ international trade agreements.

Here I provide an  overview of the legal issues that the UK will face in its efforts to shape its trade relationships with the rest of the world.

Change in legal terms

There are agreements with third countries from which the UK benefits due to its EU membership (e.g. with South Africa on trade in wine, with Israel on government procurement, and with Australia on mutual recognition in relation to conformity assessment). These would cease to apply to the UK after Brexit.

There are also agreements in which the UK participates along with the EU (e.g. South Korea, or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – CETA – with Canada which has been negotiated but not yet concluded). In legal terms, in most of these treaties, the UK participates as a member of the EU. This is clear in the wording of the treaties. Once it has left the EU, these treaties will not be applicable to Britain.

Renegotiation, therefore, appears to be the only plausible option in legal terms should the UK choose to pursue the trade agreement route. An alternative to renegotiation is the possibility of ‘rolling over’ according to which the UK will simply agree with third countries a rolling over of the provisions of the existing agreements. This, however, would give rise to considerable uncertainty. Trade treaties are the outcome of long and complex negotiations and of package deals and compromises reached in a very specific policy context. Once the UK relied on the good will of a third country to extend these deals to a completely new context, it could not be certain that the latter party would resist the temptation to unravel specific aspects of the deal.

Trade agreements

Negotiating trade agreements is bound to be a long and complex process.

  • The UK has not negotiated trade agreements for over 40 years and its competence in this area has been transferred to the EU. Whilst there is no doubt that British diplomats and civil servants are highly skilled, this is a muscle that they have not flexed for a very long time.
  • There is an increasing tendency in international treaty-making for big package deals. These are more ambitious than traditional trade agreements: rather than focusing on the more straightforward trade restrictions (such as tariffs), they aim to reach the highest possible degree of liberalisation in areas such as services and investment, to cover intellectual property rights and competition. The bigger the market, the greater the negotiating power, and the more attractive such deals are. A case in point is the unbalanced agreement that Switzerland concluded with China.
  • Negotiating agreements takes time: take CETA: negotiations started in 2009 and the agreement is not yet in force. Long negotiations are not confined to the EU: the trade agreement between Canada and South Korea took 14 rounds of negotiation over nine years to conclude.

Timing and outcome

Until the UK has left the EU, it will be bound by EU law. Trade policy falls within the Union’s exclusive competence – this has been the case for a very long time. For that reason, the UK may not negotiate trade deals with third countries whilst still a Member State.

Does it mean that we may not talk to them at all? Does it mean that the UK may not even have some exploratory discussions? Three issues are worth raising.

  • The first is legal: there is an EU law principle, the duty of cooperation, which limits considerably what the UK may do in international negotiations. This has been construed broadly by the Court of Justice – and has been applied rigorously in cases where the Commission has relied upon the Court of Justice. In principle, the Commission could start infringement proceedings against the UK for violations of this duty. In practice, whether there may be any leeway as to what the UK would be able to do would depend on the spirit of the Article 50 negotiations. This is crucial: the less confrontational these negotiations, the more likely that the UK would find the EU institutions sympathetic to its efforts to test the waters with third countries about future trade deals.
  • The second issue is practical: engaging in negotiations with third countries is a complex task – and would not be made any easier by the need to negotiate for the withdrawal from the EU and to plan and negotiate for the future relationship between the UK and the EU. If we added the paucity of trade negotiators in our civil service, it would be very difficult to see how the UK would be able to engage in meaningful negotiations with third countries at the same time.
  • The third issue is policy-related: third countries would need to know what kind of relationship the UK had with the EU before they embarked on serious negotiations about their own trade links with the country. This point was made abundantly clear by Australia recently.

WTO rules

Somehow, WTO (World Trade Organisation) law is considered a safe fall back solution for the UK. After all, the UK is a party to the WTO. This view, however, is not unproblematic.

  • The rights, commitments and concessions of the UK under WTO rules are currently tied in with those of the EU. After it leaves the EU, the UK is no longer covered by the common schedules which the EU submitted for all the Member States. Instead, it would have to draw up and submit its own schedules of concessions and commitments on market access, as well as its own list of exemptions from the MFN (most favoured nation) treatment obligation.
  • Even if it were to maintain the existing schedules, this could be considered to be a modification of the country’s terms of membership and, therefore, of the WTO agreement. As such, they would have to be accepted by all other WTO members.
  • The WTO membership of the UK is not controversial. It would, however, have to be negotiated. And no negotiation is without complexities or surprises. There is, for instance, an inherent element of uncertainty in so far as one or more WTO member may be tempted to make life difficult for the UK – either in order to make a political point, or in order to modify their own schedules in response to the UK request. After all, this is a package deal – once an aspect of it is up for amendment, the whole package might unravel.

Complex process

Where does this leave us?

First, in order to establish its trade relationships with the rest of the world, the UK will have to go through a process of extraordinary legal complexity. This process would take time and energy and may turn out to feature surprises (not necessarily pleasant).

Secondly, the practical complexities of this process would also be staggering. To build up a body of experienced trade negotiators, to make this body sufficiently large, and to give them time to develop the country’s trade links at a time when the country would negotiate both a divorce and an agreement about its future relationship with the EU – this is no easy feat. Thirdly, this process could become considerably smoother if the UK had the assistance of the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission. After all, the UK co-exists with the EU, in one way or another, in its current trade relationships with the rest of the world. The spirit in which the Article 50 negotiations are carried out would be an important factor in the country’s ability to shape its trade relations with the rest of the world as smoothly as possible.

 


Panos Koutrakos, Professor of EU Law and Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at City University and a barrister at Monckton Chambers. This is an edited version of his address to the Institute of Export’s World Trade Summit 2016 which took place in London last month.
www.monckton.com

lcci-report

London businesses and Brexit

London business are concerned – but not panicking – about Brexit, according to a widereaching new LCCI report London Businesses and Brexit: reactions, expectations and requirements. The report is the result of polling more than 500 businesses by ComRes, and in-depth roundtable discussions with LCCI members over the summer.

It is clear that London firms have been navigating a number of uncertainties following Britain’s vote to leave the EU, with concerns over continuing access to skilled workers and the status of EU nationals currently employed within London firms chief among them.

Pragmatic

Reassuringly, initial indications are that London’s businesses are taking a pragmatic and level-headed approach to these challenges. They are very much focused on what needs to be done now to ensure that the whole country prospers in the years ahead. It is apparent that London businesses want policy makers to act decisively and to bring forward innovative measures that will maintain the ‘pull’ factors that make London an attractive location to set-up and succeed.

These findings are corroborated by LCCI’s latest Capital 500 business survey – the first since the Referendum – which found that in line with decreases seen in all indicators of companies’ performance over the last two quarters, expectations for the next 12 months continued to deteriorate to Capital 500 record lows. On balance, nine per cent of London businesses expected their overall company prospects to decline, moving into negative territory for the first time and down a record 22 points on last quarter.

There is clearly no room for complacency as we take the first steps towards a post-Brexit future. To bolster business confidence in a time of uncertainty, in our report we make a series of recommendations to both government and City Hall. First of all, uncertainty must be curbed. We welcome the indication by government that it will transfer all current Brussels laws and regulations onto parliament’s statute books, to be repealed or replaced as necessary going forward.

Investment

Second, the domestic agenda, and particularly the need for strategic infrastructure investment, must not be neglected. The government should use set-piece opportunities in the political calendar, such as the forthcoming Autumn Statement, to commit to investing or progressing strategic London infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2 and additional East London river crossings.

Third, the government should enhance and expand devolution to London. Britain now has to look to make its way in the world outside the EU. However, the economic burden of paving that way ahead will fall most heavily on London – as a net contributor to the public purse and the main engine of the national economy. With that in mind, it is common sense to make sure that London has a greater say in how taxes raised in the capital are spent, to maximise its potential for growth.

Fourth, London must be provided with a flexible immigration system that works for London businesses. That means examining the potential of granting ‘indefinite leave to remain’ to EU nationals currently employed in London, and exploring the potential for a ‘Capital Work permits’ system to provide flexible access to future migrant workers to help meet London’s need for skilled workers.

Trade

Fifth, the UK’s international trade position needs to be boosted. Now more than ever there is a pressing need to encourage and support British businesses to engage in international commerce and help build a strong and prosperous UK economy. A cross-Whitehall national strategy for exports growth could coordinate this to target support to greater numbers of UK firms, particularly SMEs looking at overseas markets

Finally, a positive trade deal with the EU should be secured. Government must initiate and maintain a dialogue with London business to understand the potential barriers to future EU trade and single market access, barriers that could prove detrimental to the UK economy if not fully assessed before Brexit negotiations begin in earnest.

Testing

No-one is in any doubt that the Brexit negotiations will be testing and many hope that the Prime Minster can find a way to manage various competing demands and agendas towards a satisfactory end. For now, it is broadly business as usual across the capital as we all monitor developments. However, to ensure that Brexit is turned into an opportunity for London and the wider UK in the mid to longerterm, decisive action is required, from both the government and City Hall – now.


Thomas Wagemaakers, LCCI Policy Research Officer

croydon-exec-tech

Croydon Tech City leads the way

Nigel Dias, director and co-founder of Croydon Tech City was the guest speaker at a Croydon Chamber of Commerce lunch last month. Delegates heard how, in just four years, Croydon Tech City, a volunteer-led organisation, had been building a technology ecosystem in South London

Tech City benefits local people and businesses and has grown into a community of over two thousand venture capitalists, developers and tech entrepreneurs. Its extraordinary success and impact on Croydon has been widely recognised including in a recent report by accountancy group UHY Hacker Young which stated that Croydon has the UK’s fastest growing economy as it increasingly becomes a leading business hub for technology companies. According to the Office of National Statistics, the borough has experienced a 38 per cent growth in tech, digital and creative start-up activity since 2012.

croydon-exec-tech-2

Interviewed by LCCI chief executive Colin Stanbridge, Dias spoke of his programme to help prepare Croydoners, particularly children, for the tech economy of the future by encouraging the take-up of computer programming and coding. He was keen to convey that Croydon Tech City wants to encourage business people to engage with the tech community. “There is business to be done with the tech community and we want to find ways to connect SMEs with tech companies. Potentially, someone in Croydon can build your product. Croydon Tech City is very open to ideas and suggestions from SMEs – that is how we work”.


www.croydontechcity.com

mark-collins-2

Under construction

Mark Collins, chairman of residential at CBRE, has taken over the reins of LCCI’s property and construction committee.

The committee acts as an advisory panel, influencing Chamber policy as the organisation puts forward views and lobbies to local and national government for the best interests of businesses in areas such as housing, skills shortages, and London’s infrastructure.

Collins (pictured speaking at MIPIM in Canne last year) has a specific focus on the central London market is known for advocating the benefits of building private sector housing to rent as a means of getting people into homes quickly. He has been a big supporter of SMEs who have a key role, alongside larger developers.

Top end

Before joining CBRE, he was managing director at Harrod’s Estates property business, focusing on the top end of the London residential market.

Collins said: “This committee addresses the most pressing issue in London today and it is an honour to chair it. Affordability in the housing market is a very real concern to many Londoners who see becoming a homeowner a diminishing reality.

“Over the last decade the population has increased by a million, yet we have only built around 200,000 new homes. The new mayor will need to find some innovative ways to bring forward housing supply in a way his predecessor couldn’t and we hope to be able to help him towards a solution.”


LCCI will once again have a significant presence at MIPIM 2017 in Cannes when Europe’s largest property exhibition will run from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 March. To join the Chamber’s delegation as a sponsor contact: Angela Reed, Sponsorship and Promotions Manager areed@londonchamber.co.uk


To learn more about the LCCI’s property and construction committee and programme of events contact Nick Charles: ncharles@londonchamber.co.uk or see www.londonchamber.co.uk/propertyandconstruction

london2

London – most powerful global city

London has been named as the world’s leading global city for business, innovation and culture for the fifth consecutive year according to a report released last month by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Urban Strategies Institute.

The 2016 Global Power City Index ranked London as the leading overall city, highlighting the capital’s strong cultural offering, ease of doing business and global transport links. The report ranked 42 major cities across six key measures including economy, research and development, culture, accessibility, the environment and livability.

London performed well across all areas, retaining its top spot and ranking above cities such as New York, Tokyo and Paris. The UK capital was first awarded the leading position in 2012 in the year it successfully hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Ideal

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said: “This research shows that despite the recent vote to leave the EU, London is the best place in the world to do business. From start-ups to global enterprises across all industries and sectors, the capital offers the ideal environment for businesses to thrive. I am working with London’s business community to ensure their needs are met as we leave the EU and that our great city maintains its global position.”

This year London ranked top for accessibility and cultural interaction, with the report findings highlighting an increase in the number of visitors and students from abroad. The capital’s access to world class transport links including a large number of international airports were also underlined as key drivers for the growth of London as a global business and tourism destination.

Sporting

Since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games there has been an increase in the number of visitors to the city, according to data compiled by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional agency. Last year London attracted more than 30 million visitors to the city, drawn by global sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup and blockbuster exhibitions at its museums and galleries.

The report also recognised London’s status as a leading business and innovation hub, with London ranking second for the economy and research and development categories. In the last five years London has emerged as Europe’s largest and fastest growing technology hub with the number of digital technology businesses in London increasing by over 12,000, with around 40,000 businesses in the capital at present.