London’s businesses need a “confidence booster” from government during the uncertain Brexit period if they are to help sustain the capital’s prosperity, according to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Drawing on findings from its latest quarterly survey of over 500 London businesses, the LCCI is calling for “a flexible migration system” post-Brexit to ensure a continuing supply of foreign workers, a “fundamental review” of the business rate system, a commitment to a range of new infrastructure projects and the devolution of 16-18 skills training provision to London government.
The survey, conducted by polling company ComRes, found that, despite “positive signals” from many businesses about their current fortunes, general confidence about the future remains low. LCCI chief executive Colin Stanbridge describes a “mixed picture” in which “many of our performance figures have gone up on the last quarter” but nonetheless “remain low compared to pre-referendum levels.”
“Practical proposals for future migration” should be drawn up by London’s civic and business leaders, convened by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, in the LCCI’s view. Workers from overseas play an important part in key sectors of the capital’s economy, with around 50% of the construction industry workforce, 40% of those in financial services as well as 25% of NHS staff coming from other countries.
The government has recently agreed in principle that that EU and non-EU migrants should be governed by the same rules post-Brexit, with a system based on skills rather than nationality. The LCCI has expressed concern that “blocking or inhibiting lower-skilled labour will have detrimental impacts” not only in London but across the UK.
The Mayor published his Skills For Londoners strategy in June and has been investing in training schemes using money made available by the London Economic Action Partnership, which distributes funds provided by central government to help economic growth. However, control over capital investment, the apprenticeship levy and the tailoring of careers advice services for 16-18 year-olds have yet to be devolved to London government level.
Crossrail 2, new river crossings in East London and and a new runway at Gatwick airport following the planned expansion of Heathrow should all be firmly backed now, according to the LCCI. Read the LCCI’s Capital 500 Report in full here.
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