Mayor must also press Government to build new runway in South East

London’s firms want the capital’s next Mayor to keep a relentless focus on business growth, to keep the city an attractive hub for investment, creativity, skills and tourism. That’s according to the CBI’s London Manifesto aimed at mayoral candidates.

A London Prosperity Agenda sets out the UK’s largest business group’s priorities for the new Mayor on housing and transport infrastructure, the planning system, digital & technology skills, trade, tourism and financial services.

City Hall London (PD)

Key action points include:

• A new housing strategy within 100 days of taking office, which commits to building 50,000 homes a year

• Press the Government to deliver the Airports Commission’s recommendation to build a new runway in the South East, and deliver Transport for London’s business plan, including Crossrail 2

• Continue to implement the existing 2050 London Infrastructure Plan, and give a stronger voice to businesses on the London Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

• Develop London’s ‘Knowledge Quarter’, and support London’s Digital Talent Taskforce to help address future digital skills needs

• Provide certainty and consistency in UK tax policy to attract financial firms, and call for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to end the Bank Corporation Tax Surcharge by the end of the Parliament, once the Budget is balanced.

Lucy Haynes, CBI London Director, said:

London’s star has continued to rise over the past few years. From setting a new standard for hosting the Olympic Games to the emergence of Tech City, the capital has shown the world it is still the best place to grow, do business and thrive.

“But in an increasingly competitive global race, the next Mayor must take some tough decisions from day one for London to continue to grow and prosper, and to keep the city a magnet for investment and skills.

“From building the 50,000 homes a year the capital needs to house its talented workers, and a new runway that will boost our exports to high growth markets, to making the city a global beacon for digital and technological skills, London’s next leader has a unique opportunity to plan ahead, and position the city at the head of the pack.

The CBI will co-host a Business Hustings with the Institute of Directors, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses and London First for the four main Mayoral candidates – Zac Goldsmith MP (Conservative), Rt. Hon. Sadiq Khan MP (Labour), Caroline Pidgeon MBE (Liberal Democrat) and Dee Searle representing Siân Berry (Green) – on 10th March.

The CBI’s seven areas of priority for the next Mayor are:

Housing

London has the fifth highest cost of living compared to other leading global cities, with high housing costs and lack of supply impacting firms’ ability to recruit and retain employees.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Work with the London Land Commission to incentivise local authorities to unlock public sector land and brownfield sites

• Support the ‘Build to Rent’ scheme, improving the quality and quantity of private rental housing.

Transport

The capital’s infrastructure currently ranks 24th compared with its international peers, and 70% of firms believe the increased strain placed upon it will negatively affect them.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Approve the London City Airport Development Programme

• Explore innovative finance options for London’s new roads, including user charges

• Promote the River Thames for moving goods and materials, to diversify the city’s transport options.

Planning system

£1.3 trillion worth of investment is required in London’s energy, water, transport and digital infrastructure by 2050.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Explore how an increase in planning application fees could lead to swift decisions from planning authorities

• Develop a circular economy strategy and the widespread recycling of materials, which could see London become a zero-waste city, creating 40,000 jobs by 2036.

Skills

Skills must be aligned with the needs of the capital’s economy, but a lack of skilled staff is one of the top three concerns for London’s businesses.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Urge the Government to raise the Tier 2 immigration cap

• Extend science, technology, engineering and maths education to primary schools, to lay the best foundations for a home grown, skilled workforce.

Digital and technology

London ranks as the sixth most supportive environment in the world for tech start-up businesses, yet the UK has seen flat growth in life sciences research & development funding over the last few years.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Support the growth of new business clusters so London can be a world leader in areas such as financial and wearable technology

• Encourage greater sharing of flexible creative office spaces, the lack of which hinders growth in the tech sector.

Trade

London’s exports are currently worth £140 billion to the capital’s economy, and more than 40% of London-based SMEs aim to trade internationally.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Be a strong international ambassador for all of London’s sectors

• Champion continued investment in the capital’s shopping and entertainment districts.

Financial services

The City is the world’s most international financial centre, and London makes up over half of all the UK’s services exports. But the gap is narrowing between the capital’s unique position, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Businesses want the next Mayor to:

• Act as an advocate to ensure the conditions are right for London to continue to be a global financial and professional services hub.

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