By Daniel Hunter

Growth and jobs must be at the heart of the priorities for the next London Mayor the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said launching its London manifesto.

The focus should be on increasing international trade and investment, overhauling the capital’s transport system, tackling unemployment and improving education and skills, the UK’s leading business organisation said ahead of the London Mayoral Election Business Hustings this evening.

“Businesses want the next Mayor to put growth and jobs front and centre of the priorities for our capital. With London’s population forecast to increase by over a million in the next 30 years, the city will have to develop a dynamic new growth momentum," Sara Parker, CBI London region director, said.

“There’s a huge opportunity for London to capitalise on the global publicity driven by the Olympics and Paralympics, to attract inward investment and boost our exports and tourism well beyond 2012.

“It’s shocking that the unemployment rate in London is close to 10% and particularly high among young people. Even before the recession there were structural problems in the employment market that will not simply go away with a return to growth, so we need to improve London’s skills base for the future.

“We want the brightest people from all over the world to come to London, so the Mayor must lobby central Government to get greater clarity into the immigration system, particularly around the availability of work permits for skilled migrants and intra-company transfers.

“The capital’s lifeblood is its transport network and this is absolutely vital to the success of London’s economy. Businesses want the Mayor to optimise the capacity on the existing networks as well as deliver new transport modes, like Crossrail, while also increasing connectivity and reliability for passengers.

“We need commitment to a more competitive tax system and a speeded-up planning regime which is pro-growth and helps reduce business operating costs. The Mayor must also strengthen support for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized firms which have some of the most potential to grow and create jobs.

“Successfully influencing central Government to stand up against a raft of unwanted regulation, much of it coming from Brussels, will be crucial to maintaining our international competitiveness.”

The CBI manifesto sets out four priorities: a connected city, a prosperous city, a global city and a talented city.

A connected city - we want the next Mayor to:

· Ensure there is no slippage or cost overrun on Tube modernisation
· Deliver Crossrail on time and to budget
· Urgently tackle the problem of road congestion
· Ensure that improvements to transport modes are maintained
· Maintain and increase the connectivity between the capital’s transport modes
· Drive forward new transport projects for the city, including schemes already on the table, and examine the need for future projects such as Crossrail 2
· Optimise use of the river as an alternative means of transport
· Work with the private sector to develop new investment models to channel more private capital into projects (including pension funds and tax increment financing).

A prosperous city - we want the next Mayor to:

· Influence central government to create a more competitive tax system which would benefit London, including fulfilling its commitment to reduce corporation tax to 23% by 2014 and delivering competitive personal tax levels
· Create in the Royal Docks enterprise zone a vibrant new centre of development, including simplified planning rules and innovative use of business rates, and help drive regeneration through wider east London, as a model for the whole city
· Drive a significant rise in inbound tourist numbers through London and Partners and on the back of the publicity arising from the Olympic and Paralympic Games
· Use the planning regime to be pro-growth and help reduce business operating costs
· Work with business and through the new London Enterprise Panel to stimulate economic growth throughout the capital, including supporting innovation and entrepreneurs, reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens, speeding planning decisions and strengthening business support for SMEs.

A global city - we want the next Mayor to:

· Champion London as a world city and the leading place to do business to external audiences, ensuring London and Partners adopts a focussed strategic approach
· Work to influence government to resist regulation which could damage The City’s international competitiveness and undermine the prosperity of London’s world-class financial services sector
· Help SMEs identify and take advantage of new trade and export opportunities, including through trade missions, fairs and the British Business Club
· Lobby government to ensure that UK air passenger duty — Europe’s highest — does not undermine London’s position as a good place to trade and invest
· Work with government to ensure the capital has sufficient aviation capacity to remain a key international transport hub.

A talented city - we want the next Mayor to:

· Lobby central government to build clarity into the immigration system especially around the availability of work permits for skilled migrants and intra-company transfers
· Build on the progress already made to get more people into apprenticeships, by adopting bold targets, broadening the appeal of apprenticeships and cutting red tape to make them easier for business to implement
· Help support the introduction of the government’s Youth Contract to get young people into work, including raising awareness
· Work with local education authorities to improve the way our schools prepare students for working life through better careers advice, guidance and teaching the skills that employers need

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