Think tank proposes ‘new model of growth’ for London

Think tank proposes ‘new model of growth’ for London

Green belt development, bold devolution and a huge boost for skills should power a bold new industrial strategy for London, according to a report by think tank Centre for London.

Entitled Rebooting London’s Economy and sponsored by the City of London Corporation, it describes the capital as having become “stuck” and “underperforming” since the the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, a period which has seen its productivity growth fall from an average of three per cent a year at the start of this century to almost zero.

Urging the Mayor of London and national government to work together, the report recommends the setting up of an expert commission to identify ten development sites near railway stations in the capital’s Green Belt to help solve its deepening, chronic housing crises, accompanied by a big additional national investment in affordable housing.

A call for enhanced autonomy and tax-raising powers for London government reiterates earlier calls – including by Boris Johnson when he was London’s Mayor – for “fiscal devolution” to the capital, meaning London government would have direct control over the use of property and some other taxes raised in the city, rather than being dependent on the Treasury allocating the money on terms it defined.

Such a reform would include enabling the Mayor and London’s local authorities to update and augment Council Tax bands, which haven’t changed in England since they were first set in 1991, despite the value of London homes increasing massively during that period. The report also says the Mayor and local authorities should look at long-term alternatives to Business Rates.

Other infrastructure recommendations include the Department for Transport working with Transport for London to “improve the reliability, speed and frequency of services in outer London” entailing national government granting the long-standing request, also going back to Johnson’s mayoralty, to devolve control of all those services to TfL.

On skills, the report calls for London government to be given full control of the Apprenticeship Levy raised on businesses to boost funds for essential training and long term programmes and the return of the already-devolved adult education budget to its “pre-austerity funding level”.

To attract more skilled workers from overseas, the report advises the retention of the current graduate visa and its possible extension from two years to five, along with a review of the cost of applying for a skilled worker visa.

The report presents its findings as potential “a new model of growth” for a capital which, despite its flat productivity improvements, continues to be vital to the strength of the UK economy as a whole. “As London stands at a pivotal moment in its economic history, the execution of these recommendations could very well determine its future as a competitive, innovative, and equitable global city,” it concludes. The report can be read here. provides unique coverage of the capital’s politics, development and culture. Support it and its writers for just £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE.

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