London Councils pitch for investment to support business

18 Jan 19

Investing in London’s public services can stimulate the city’s economy, an umbrella group has said.

London Councils, which represents all 32 of the capital’s boroughs, has called for greater investment in housing, education and skills, and transport infrastructure so cuts to core funding do not undermine the local economy.

At a briefing for London’s businesses on Thursday, London Councils argued that investment in public services must go “hand-in-hand” with reforms like devolution.

The group noted that London contributes a net fiscal surplus of £32.5bn to the rest of the UK and exports over £130bn in goods and services. But the capital’s boroughs will experience a 63% reduction to core funding from central government between 2010 and 2020.

Continuation of austerity in local government coupled with increased uncertainty due to Brexit could cause London’s economy to “stall”, London Councils warned.

Peter John, chair of London Councils, said: “London’s public services support London’s businesses in a range of ways - delivering housing for people living and working in the capital, improving standards in schools to educate the workforce of the future, and ensuring roads are in good condition.

“That is why it is only right that London’s businesses are fully briefed on the impact of under-investment in local public services, which combined with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit pose a real threat to our economy.

“Making the case for greater investment, reform and devolution ahead of the next Spending Review has never been more important. If we achieve this, London boroughs will be fully empowered to work with business to make the capital a great place to do business.”

John Dickie, director of strategy and policy at London First, a business campaign group, said: “London councils undertake a range of functions that are vital to businesses, from managing planning applications to maintaining roads. It is essential that the forthcoming spending review enables them, after years of real cuts, to have the resources to do their jobs properly.”
London Councils previously called for tax-raising powers to be devolved to ease financial pressures.

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