London powers the UK economy. As a net contributor to the Treasury, putting £34 billion into the public purse in the last fiscal year, London’s economic strength is vital to the prosperity of the UK as a whole.
As London’s largest and most representative business membership organisation, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) is well placed to set out the measures that the next government must take to maintain London’s status as a globally competitive city. These are informed by our quarterly surveys of 500 London business leaders in partnership with ComRes, our policy committee deliberations and feedback from our members.
Among London businesses’ top priorities for 2015 are targeted investment in London’s transport infrastructure to keep the capital moving for business, and measures to address the chronic undersupply of housing in the capital, by freeing up more land for building and enabling more developers to build.
London’s population will grow by 1.5 million people by 2030 – the equivalent of adding another city the size of Birmingham. Our transport network is already struggling to cope and desperately needs upgrading.
The single most important transport investment for London business will be the construction of Crossrail 2 – 83% of London’s businesses view it as important to cope with population increases. This new rail line will run from Hertfordshire to Surrey, through the centre of London, relieving pressure on overcrowded Tube and commuter rail services. The next government must demonstrate its support for Crossrail 2 by including it in the National Infrastructure Plan.
The lack of affordable homes to purchase or rent within London is having measurable and detrimental impacts on London’s ability to remain open for business. 42% of London businesses surveyed by LCCI in 2014 reported that they struggled to recruit and retain skilled workers because of a shortage of available homes.
The problem is undersupply – and LCCI therefore calls on the next government to free up more land to build, and enable more developers to start construction. To increase available land for development, the next government must set up a register of all publicly owned brownfield and surplus land, to be offered to private or public bodies able to develop it. In order to make it easier for small developers to enter the market, the next government must introduce a Help to Build loan guarantee scheme to enable swift access to finance, and defer Community Infrastructure Levy payments for sites under 50 units until the homes have gone to market.
LCCI calls on the next government to take swift action to tackle the chronic housing shortage in London, and invest in its transport system to ensure that it can remain the globally competitive city on which the UK’s economic prosperity depends