What’s the point of the Mayor of London? One of the less well-known positive arguments for the mayoralty might be job creation. New research from City Hall’s GLA Economics team estimates that Sadiq Khan’s efforts have produced more than 300,000 jobs in the capital since his election in 2016.
The grand total includes 273,200 created or supported by mayoral programmes and policies, plus 1,700 safeguarded, 9,500 apprenticeships put in place, and 47,600 Londoners helped into work through skills and training programmes. The estimate amounts to more than half the jobs added to the capital’s overall workforce in the six and a half years between May 2016 and the end of last year.
City Hall’s affordable housing programme, with a spend of some £4.8 billion between 2016 and 2023, is the biggest contributor, accounting for more than 140,000 jobs, the researchers estimate. Support for cultural and creative industries has seen 48,200 “employment opportunities” created, while the Mayor’s inward investment and tourism agency London & Partners has delivered 46,000. European Union cash, supplied through the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, added 35,400, and wider skills and employment programmes another 23,900.
Good news for the Mayor then, who, as the report points out, stated on his re-election in 2021 that “protecting, preserving and helping to create jobs will be my economic priority”. But as veterans of employment and regeneration programmes will know well, counting the numbers of jobs created is not an exact science. Estimates of this kind come with caveats – and this research is no exception.
Definitions of jobs created or safeguarded vary, across programmes and sectors, and perhaps most significantly, the figures reported are “gross” rather than representing net additional jobs, meaning they cannot – as the researchers acknowledge – be “solely attributed to the Mayor’s policies and programmes”. Some of these jobs might have been newly created in any event, without City Hall intervention. Others might have been displaced from elsewhere. More data, and more detailed economic analysis, is needed to establish “additionality”.
However, the figures could also be an under-estimate, particularly for housing and transport investment, the report says. Those for housing jobs are based on National Housing Federation calculations that each new home built is associated with the creation of at least 1.2 direct jobs. But the government’s own housing strategy estimates up to two jobs per new house, and analysis by the Home Builder Federation puts the figure at between 2.4 and 3.1 “direct, indirect and induced jobs”.
Employment supported through Transport for London’s investment on the Underground, calculated by TfL to be around 43,000, and supply chain and construction jobs involved in building the Elizabeth line have not been included either – 55,000 full-time jobs across the country, plus jobs being created in areas opened up by the new route.
Nor has the jobs impact of the Mayor’s London Plan policies been calculated, including in the plan’s “opportunity areas”, which are judged to have capacity for at least 2,500 new homes or 5,000 new jobs, or a combination of the two. City Hall’s Royal Docks regeneration project alone is forecast to deliver 41,500 jobs over the coming two decades, the report notes.
The raw numbers do not reflect the quality of the jobs created, it adds. That could be a focus for future monitoring, along with more work on the “employment impacts of TfL’s investment in the transport network, which are currently underrepresented”. This would include jobs created outside the capital and by more recent initiatives, such as Mayor Khan’s free school meals programme.
Finally, the report cautions that a “narrow” focus on the employment impacts of mayoral programmes provides only a “partial view” of their success. “Ideally they should be judged on their full environmental, social and economic benefits”.
X/Twitter: Charles Wright and On London. Photo: Newly-built council housing in Brent part-funded by the Mayor. If you value On London and its writers, become a supporter or a paid subscriber to publisher and editor Dave Hill’s Substack. Thanks.