Why you should attend the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference 2017

The British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference 2017 is an unmissable event for business leaders and those involved in corporate affairs or public policy. Keep up with the key developments in Westminster and understand how they will affect UK businesses – book your place now to avoid disappointment and attend one of the UK’s most important business events on 28th February.

What is the BCC Annual Conference?

The BCC Annual Conference brings together the UK Chamber network and the wider business community for a day of stimulating panel debates and inspiring keynote speeches from senior politicians, business leaders and opinion formers. You will have the opportunity to interact with businesses of all sizes and sectors and representatives from across the Chamber Network.

This year’s Conference will focus on three key themes:
• Brexit: turning uncertainty into opportunity
• Keeping the UK competitive – vision 2030
• Growing business in the regions and nations

Find out more about the programme here.

Who will be speaking?

Our speakers include a Senior Cabinet Minister who will discuss the Government’s Brexit strategy, Rt Hon Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Liz Nicholl CBE (CEO, UK Sport), Rt Hon George Osborne CH MP (Former Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Vincent De Rivaz CBE (Chief Executive, EDF Energy). You can see our full list of speakers on the BCC Conference website.

Why should I attend the BCC Annual Conference?

Businesses can expect to learn where the UK’s priorities should be and gain more insight into the Government’s plans regarding the Brexit negotiation process and the UK’s future relationship with the EU, as well as hear how business leaders are planning for the impact of Brexit.

Also, with many businesses supportive of transferring power from Westminster to the nations and regions, and the Government approaching reform of the UK’s governance, we will be discussing the main opportunities and challenges around devolution, as well as the UK’s infrastructure needs.

The Conference is also a fantastic opportunity to network with hundreds of like-minded businesses from around the UK.

How can I attend?

Visit www.bccconference.co.uk and book your ticket now to attend the Conference on 28th February 2017, at QEII Centre London. Members of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry will receive a 60% discount on the standard pricing.

If you have any questions or want more information, please email a.mcqueen@britishchambers.org.uk

Brexit Q&A

How will the High Court ruling impact on Brexit?

On 3 November 2016, the High Court ruled that the Prime Minister could not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (the process which sets in motion the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union over a two-year period) without recourse to Parliament.. The government has appealed to the Supreme Court to seek to overturn the decision. At time of writing, a verdict is expected on 7 December 2016 although this could be delayed. Despite the landmark constitutional ruling, the Prime Minister says she remains determined to invoke Article 50 in March 2017.

Brexit: High Court ruling on Article 50 explained

Reality check: Could High Court ruling on Article 50 scupper Brexit?

  • www.bbc.co.uk/news/ukpolitics BBC reality check article arguing that the process of obtaining Parliamentary approval to move Article 50 may delay or complicate the process but it is unlikely that Parliament could ignore the outcome of the referendum.

What does the High Court’s Article 50 ruling mean for Brexit?

  • fullfact.org/europe/ concludes how the government cannot leave the EU without Parliament passing a law, not that the judges have blocked Brexit.

Taking back control

  • www.economist.com/news/ Economist article suggesting that the High Court ruling will make a ‘soft’ Brexit more likely.

Brexit: Theresa May creates ‘bombproof’ Article 50 bill to prevent MPs from holding it up

Government already drafting Brexit Article 50 bill

  • news.sky.com/story The government is already preparing the first draft of a bill to move Article 50 so the Prime Minister can hit her 31 March deadline for officially triggering Brexit.

Was Theresa May’s visit to India a precursor to a post-Brexit free trade agreement?

  • To what extent was Theresa May’s recent visit to India, a country with 7.1 per cent year-onyear growth in gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2016, as well as shared historic and linguistic ties, a precursor to new free trade agreements for the UK outside the EU?

British PM Theresa May heads to India with eye on postBrexit ties

Theresa May’s visit: Britain looks to further bilateral trade, India keen on liberal visa policy

  • www.firstpost.com/world An important matter for both countries will be to look at the implications of a post-Brexit UK on bilateral relations.

Britain PM Theresa May’s India visit was underwhelming, say critics

Theresa May’s visit has moved India-UK relations forward: Indian envoy

  • www.india.com/news/world/ Theresa May’s first visit to India as Prime Minister has sent a clear signal to the world about the close ties shared by the two countries, according to the acting high commissioner of India to the UK.

Theresa May’s empty-handed return from India; critics say visit was ‘pointless’

What is the impact of the US Presidential Election result on Brexit?

  • The US Presidential Election 2016 result meant that pro-Brexit Donald Trump will be the next occupant of the White House. Trump has described his victory as “Brexit plus plus plus” but what impact do commentators think it will have on US-UK relations?

What Donald Trump’s victory means for post-Brexit Britain?

  • www.independent.co.uk/voices/ While the impact of Donald Trump’s victory on a post-Brexit UK is hard to determine, Trump’s advisers have let it be known that Britain would not be last in line for a trade deal with the United States.

Brexit Briefing: what Trump’s victory means for Britain

  • www.ft.com/content/ The results of the US Presidential Election should prompt some serious thought about the UK’s place in the world.

Donald Trump’s win will make Brexit more painful

  • www.economist.com/blogs/ argues that the risks of a Trump presidency—protectionism, geopolitical turmoil, American isolationism—will be counter to British interests.

So what does Donald Trump mean for Brexit?

  • news.sky.com/story/ The UK was warned Brexit would leave it at the back of the queue for US trade deals but Trump’s victory means we might have jumped to the front.

Readers are invited to submit their own questions to Alexa Michael, LCCI’s business information executive: amichael@londonchamber.co.uk

Titans of the future

“When I look at the classroom I think of Titans. They will be working for or creating tomorrow’s companies but they need our help.” Sherry Coutu CBE

Business and education leaders gathered at the City of London Club in November to hear serial entrepreneur, Ambassador for London and Chairman of Founders- 4Schools Sherry Coutu CBE deliver the Commercial Education Trust (CET) Third Annual Lecture.

Her talk From Classroom to Titan: transforming student attainment through business engagement, AI and data science urged those present in the packed-out venue to consider the labour market challenges of the digital age: the ever-increasing skills shortage combined with the rapid pace of change in our economies.


Large numbers of young people are at risk of becoming NEETS – not in education, training or employment. It is now, she argued, that employers and educators can refocus their efforts to support the talent of young people into the future and not just for a five-year timeframe: “but ten, twenty… the exogenous shocks that are disrupting our society are pretty extreme. On the one hand it is very, very exciting but on the other hand it causes people to feel uncomfortable.

“As a parent how do you guide your child? As a teacher how do you advise them? It is our responsibility as employers and educators to introduce them to who is creating the jobs so they can navigate in uncertain times, so they can answer the question: ‘What will you do when you grow up?’”

you grow up?’” For the next generation to become ‘titans’, Sherry Coutu argued, the business community has to get involved. The Economist predicts that “one billion young people will start work in the next decade – only 40 per cent in jobs that now exist”. Business leaders need to capture the imaginations of young people so that they can aspire to the real jobs of the future, so that “today’s students will be working for and creating tomorrow’s companies”.


Coutu revealed that few young people aim for careers such as engineering or science and the engagement in STEM declines dramatically for older students, particularly girls. And the costs of intervention to help young people become employable increases dramatically the older a student becomes. The cost of helping a 14-15 year old is negligible compared to those for 25 year-old.

The value of employer contacts at school and the difference they make to the employment prospects of young adults is well documented but alongside business engagement, AI, and data science also play a key role.

Sherry Coutu’s own charity – Founders4Schools – has been able to build a platform which facilitates business-student encounters at a local level and across the UK – and at no cost to the teachers who use their facility. “What if you knew the need and where all the schools are and how many students there are in every class – and what if you knew where all the businesses are and could put them there to chat? 2 seconds, that’s all it takes”

The potential to make a difference Coutu argued, is huge. Founders- 4Schools aims to have reached one million students by next year. In addition, in the future ‘big data’ will be able to help answer other questions as well and provide a more granular understanding of the kind of interventions that work, their frequency and the best age to deploy them. “The time is perfect and it is a very great need that we have at the moment”.


Fair trade – making the most of overseas exhibitions

International trade fairs provide an invaluable opportunity for businesses to target potential customers, win business, and boost your brand and reputation abroad, but you need to plan and orchestrate carefully. That was the message from LCCI’s recent seminar: How to make the most of trade fairs abroad which was held in the splendid library of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Niels Dickens of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce stressed that planning, preparation and perseverance were the keys to success within this competitive environment. Identifying the trade show that works best for your business objectives is critical, and will set businesses in the right direction to achieving their potential. Company staff can then focus on the details from perfecting their pitches to familiarising themselves with the event venue to help them stand out from the crowd.

Focusing on the importance of engaging with all visitors during t trade shows, Amelie Galatry from Promosalons revealed that of all business to business (B2B) marketers interviewed, 75 per cent believed that trade fairs and face to face meetings were the most effective tactic to get business.

One way to maximise this potential is through B2B brokerage meetings which are often arranged at trade shows, fairs, exhibitions or conferences but can also be standalone events. These give businesses the chance to meet a maximum of potential business partners within a short period of time, making the most of time in-between exhibiting.


Making the most of trade fairs abroad, however requires considerable marketing, investment and time from participating companies. Social media can play a key role and industry expert Warren Knight shared his experience in using the digital world to access potential clients. In an increasingly digital environment, 26 per cent of sales come from recommendations on social media. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are revolutionising the way companies can use the internet to make the most of international trade fairs, and with an average of 5,700 tweets being sent every second, this can be done faster than ever before.

Cutting costs and not corners was also a theme and Nghia Tran from the Department of International Trade briefed delegates on the financial support that was available to companies.

Nicole Subrovska, law student at the University of Surrey and International Business Intern at LCCI within the Enterprise Europe Network team

A look back at 2016

It’s been another busy year at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry – over the last twelve months we have been: advancing the interests of our members’ to the new London Mayor and GLA; connecting our members through our successful networking events and International company trade missions; and offering our members’ the best range of practical and professional services.  Read our latest entry to look back on what we have achieved this year and give you some insight in to our exciting plans for 2017.

Thank you for all your support in 2016 – have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  We look forward to seeing you in 2017.




As part of the London Tomorrow initiative we hosted the first business debate by the main mayoral candidates to over 400 people at the LSE. Candidates outlined how they would meet the challenges of the capital approaching megacity status.

Access the full debate here.




‘LCCI offers a variety of business services – we find the Property and Construction specialist group of great value and have used the research services, mailing lists and met clients and suppliers at their high quality networking events.’

– Duncan Hopwood, Hopwood PR

Learn more about your member services.


mipim2With a delegation led by LCCI President Tony Pidgley, we were at the forefront of Property and Construction sector discussions at MIPIM 2016.

Find out about our plans for MIPIM 2017.



london-4We brought together PAs, EAs, Event Bookers and Office Managers with over 50 of the best London suppliers from the retail, travel and hospitality industries at LCCI PA Club’s popular Showcase Morning exhibition.

Find out how to join and get involved with future LCCI PA Club events here.


????????????????????????????????????Business experts, including Rt Hon Jack Straw led our event on trading with Iran in a post-sanctions era. Delegates received information and guidance on business opportunities available within the region.

See our upcoming trade missions and events here.




Our report ‘Living on the Edge – Housing London’s Blue Light Emergency Services’ found that high housing costs mean that 54% of frontline ‘Blue light’ police, fire and paramedic staff now live outside London and have to commute into the capital.

Read our findings here.



????????????????????????????????????LCCI Chief Executive, Colin Stanbridge, hosted our annual Golf Day event where attendees enjoyed a day of high-level networking and golf in a relaxed environment at Royal Blackheath.

View our latest Prestige events for high-level networking opportunities and corporate hospitality here.




Guests enjoyed drinks and canapes overlooking the Thames at our exclusive networking event at the HMS President RNR.

Visit our events calendar to book on to an upcoming networking event in 2017.




We championed women in business on our largest company mission to the United Arab Emirates. More than 50 companies from six different countries took part in our delegation, as we visited Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Find out more about our international business activity.




Guests joined leading representatives from the transport industry including RT Hon Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport and LCCI President Tony Pidgley at our high-level black tie dinner.

View pictures from the 2016 Transport Dinner here.




Following the EU referendum, our latest report suggested answers to two key questions: how to practically treat the 771,000 EU nationals currently employed within London firms, and how to realistically plan to process the future migrant workers that London will need.

Read the full report here.




‘LCCI membership continues to prove itself to be beneficial and we have gained valued clients through our membership. The LCCI team, from the event organisers to our account managers, make all the difference.’ – Debbie Wells, AIM Commercial Cleaning

Contact the membership team.


Calm and rational consideration needed

No one, least of all myself, can yet predict either the political endgame or the ultimate economic impacts of the transition that lies ahead.

Most of the pronouncements we have seen and heard so far are little more than political warning shots, with the heavy artillery and the precision weapons held in reserve for later. They may make waves in the British and international press, but until Article 50 is triggered by the end of March 2017, and the exit process is well underway, many of these positions are just speculative. There are a number of areas that are of prime importance to business. Trade There is universal agreement across government that Britain’s future is as ‘a trading nation’. Yet that is where the consensus ends. Many Brexiteers want a full exit from the EU customs union, eschew access to the single market, and favour the conclusion of free trade agreements with our traditional allies and the Commonwealth. Others speak more cautiously about maintaining single market access, particularly in sensitive sectors like financial services, and prioritising an in-depth agreement with the EU over free trade agreements elsewhere.

There are a number of nations who will want to do a trade deal with the UK in future – although most are careful to say that this can only take place after we leave the EU. Even where there’s a will, there is caution – which will likely keep talks informal for now.

What’s most interesting is that, in this era of protectionism and conflicting interests, many also express a private belief that doing a trade deal with the UK will be easier than doing a deal with the EU, as one country is easier to reach agreement with than 27.

So there are  some who believe that there is a real opportunity to increase the flows of two-way trade between the UK and a range of other countries, something that we must continue to explore. Our growing network of British chambers and business groups in markets around the world will be key partners in helping to seek out intelligence and opportunities in this regard. Labour market Of all the Brexit-related subjects we’re dealing with, this is the most pressing one for many of the UK and multinational firms we speak to, and possibly the most frustrating for me. We continue to call for guarantees for existing EU workers in the UK. It’s the right thing to do for our businesses, for the economy and for the individuals concerned. Ministers, even those sympathetic to our arguments, demur. They insist on their responsibility to British citizens living elsewhere in the EU, and that formal guarantees can only be made when both issues are resolved. The issue with this ‘bargaining chip’ approach when it comes to existing EU workers is that businesses are left with unacceptable levels of uncertainty about their workforce planning.

My present worry is a short-term crackdown on non-EU skilled workers and students – so that ministers can say they are making progress on migration. We will have to fight this as a business community, to protect both the interests of our firms and the universities and colleges that serve as anchors for many local economies and as links to many markets around the world. Regulation Good news here. Regulatory stability, at least in the short-to-medium term, looks to be the order of the day. Businesses around the UK, and those they trade with around the world, cite potential regulatory instability during the Brexit transition as a key concern. Ministers have, to date, sensibly spoken of maintaining regulatory equivalence for a period of time, including bringing forward a Great Repeal Bill, to transpose all existing EU law into the UK statute books before we leave the European Union

The early talk is of making regulatory change as painless as possible – a good aspiration when compared to the long history of burdensome, resource-sapping regulatory change that businesses have often faced.

EU funding

Here, the Chamber Network has already had a significant – if incomplete – win. Following our protests about the impact of the potential withdrawal of EU funding for key local growth projects, research collaborations and infrastructure schemes, Chancellor Philip Hammond responded with a swift Treasury guarantee for all projects signed off by Autumn 2016. This will keep many local projects, as well as match-funded schemes for trade with other countries, going until the end of the current parliament in 2020.

Taxation and Customs

Indirect taxes, such as VAT, and questions of origin, are important concerns for UK companies doing business across Europe – and beyond – during the Brexit transition.

While the UK itself is very likely to adopt much of the EU Union Customs Code as a point of departure, there will be opportunities to sharpen and improve some elements of this in the interests of our importing and exporting firms. While it is still early days, chambers plan to engage at both political and technical levels to achieve a good outcome for businesses.

The Prime Minister and her team have a real chance to craft a bespoke set of arrangements that are both advantageous to UK firms and acceptable to our trading partners in the EU and beyond.

The diverse businesses in the Chamber network are – rightly – focused on the impact of our transition on their own business models and prospects. They expect government and the Bank of England to deliver stability of markets, further clarity on the timetable for transition, and firm action on those matters that are entirely within Westminster’s gift. Calm, rational consideration is the order of the day.

Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce

Right signals needed for transport

Secretary of State for Transport Rt. Hon Chris Grayling was the guest speaker at the LCCI’s annual transport dinner in November. In his introduction LCCI chairman Tony Pidgley pointed out that since last year’s event there had not only been a new transport secretary but also a new Prime Minister, and a new relationship with Europe. He continued: “I was hoping at this stage to be congratulating Chris Grayling on having given the go-ahead to not one but two runways – at Heathrow and Gatwick – as the Chamber has campaigned for over a number of years, there being a solid case for both.

“Nevertheless we hope that the government drives though the Heathrow expansion with real confidence over the coming year.”


Pidgley said that one of the great challenges everyone faces in the market currently was uncertainty which created indecision and undermined growth. “Uncertainty” he said, “makes some companies stop. They put everything on hold. Other companies see change as opportunity. They keep investing. They keep their people. And they make decisions that will generate wealth in the future.

Turning specifically to Brexit, Pidgley said that many were nervous of its implications, a factor which also contributed to uncertainty. “But I think the government understands this, and they want to give the right signals when it comes to investment in infrastructure.



“The Chamber has been researching what business leaders think will safeguard London and the UK economy. More than 80 per cent said that increased investment in infrastructure is important between now and the start of the Brexit negotiations. That is why we are delighted that Crossrail 2 and HS2 are going ahead.” The decision, he believed, sent a strong and positive signal to sectors across the board, including housing and construction.

But, Pidgley pointed out, none of the projects could be delivered unless there were the right skills and people in place. To achieve this would need investment in young people and getting the debate about work permits right. “Don’t forget that up to 50 per cent of the people working in construction across London are European.”

In his speech Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, outlined the government’s national transport priorities. Stating that the decision on both HS2 and Heathrow were major commitments by the government to drive forward infrastructure projects, he said that the government would look to focus on smaller projects in future which could deliver significant improvements for passengers and businesses with a shorter lead time than larger projects.


The LCCI annual transport dinner was sponsored by CH2M and Willis Towers Watson and took place at the Berkeley Hotel.

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.


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”.


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

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.”

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