Londoners must not be excluded from the benefits of levelling up, a cross-party group of MPs has declared.
Ahead of the anticipated launch of the government’s white paper on levelling up, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London has highlighted the capital’s crucial contribution to the UK’s prosperity, as well as London’s immense economic and social needs.
London is the UK’s ‘shop window’. The capital is the gateway to the rest of the UK, with 15% of its visitors also travelling to other UK locations and 13% of foreign direct investment outside of London following an initial investment in the capital.
London was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The capital’s Covid-19 infection and mortality rates were high and above the national average. The impact of restrictions on London’s economy was also particularly pronounced, with central London businesses the worst affected in the UK and losing 47 weeks of sales between the first lockdown and Omicron’s onset. The unemployment rate in the capital is 5.4% compared to the UK-wide rate of 4.1%.
London’s high poverty rates. It is estimated that 27% of Londoners live in relative poverty (after housing costs) with 76% of children in poverty in London in working families (an increase of 8%, or 80,000 children, from five years ago). London is suffering the most severe homelessness crisis in the country, with 165,000 Londoners in temporary accommodation and the capital accounting for two-thirds of England’s homelessness total.
Sir Bob Neill MP, Co-Chair of the APPG for London, said: “We’re keen to see a positive role for London in the levelling up white paper. The capital faces enormous economic challenges and is home to some of the most deprived communities in the UK.
“New policies aimed at spreading opportunity and boosting prosperity must include the many low-income Londoners who need to benefit from this important agenda. Tackling deprivation and productivity issues in London will help generate economic growth not only in the capital but across the UK.”
Feryal Clark MP, Co-Chair of the APPG for London, said: “The capital’s severe rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness demonstrate why levelling up shouldn’t leave London behind. If the government wants to make genuine progress on reducing inequalities, it can’t afford to ignore London’s immense needs.
“Levelling up cannot become a zero-sum game that sees resources taken away from deprived Londoners for investment elsewhere. All parts of the country need to have a stake in the government’s levelling up ambitions.”