By Marcus Leach
With less than eight months to go before the London mayoral elections, the capital’s business leaders have called for an urgent policy rethink in City Hall, according to a new survey.
The research highlights the key policy areas that London businesses want the next mayor to address. The findings reveal a tension between central government policymaking and the limited powers of the mayor’s office.
A survey of more than 760 business leaders and 900 other Londoners was conducted by ComRes on behalf of LondonlovesBusiness.com.
The survey highlights the key policy areas that London businesses want the next mayor to address. The findings reveal a tension between central government policymaking and the limited powers of the mayor’s office.
The findings have met with strong support prominent figures across the London business community, who back the call for new policy ideas.
The research findings have been broken down into the top policy priorities for the next London mayor:
Transport: “Forget about airports and sort out the roadworks hell”
· 57% of London business leaders say that reducing roadworks disruption should be a top transport priority.
· Only 14% support a new Heathrow runway or a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
· Improving public transport and transport links was cited as the 'single most important thing the mayor could do to promote London as a world class place to do business'.
“With a growing number of businesses from the fast growing economies in the Far East looking to expand their operations into Europe, London is in competition with some pretty slick transport networks as seen in Switzerland and Germany. We simply cannot afford to let our ageing transport infrastructure fall behind whilst other European centres are spending money on theirs,” Richard Reid, chairman, KPMG London said.
The unions and public sector strikes: “Stand up to them and win our vote”
· 60% of London’s business leaders would vote for a mayoral candidate who takes a strong line on public sector strikes in London.
· 53% of those surveyed said that they had “little sympathy for public sector workers striking over spending cuts”.
· 66% of business leaders believe that policymakers should ban public sector strikes unless there has been a turnout of 50% on the strike ballot.
“London’s transport system needs immediate attention and policymakers need to do something about the strikes right now,” Peter Gordon, founder and managing director, In-Deed Online, said.
Government funding: “Stop Whitehall from ripping us off”
· 57% of those surveyed said that “Londoners are unfairly subsidising other parts of the UK”.
· 70% of business leaders argue that “government money spent in London benefits the whole of the UK because of the surplus tax generated by the London economy”.
“Given London’s pre-eminent position in the UK economy, the capital’s businesses accept that some of their taxes will always be redistributed to other parts of the country," Colin Stanbridge, chief executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said.
"It is often forgotten, however, that parts of the capital face the very same challenges around deprivation, inequality and worklessness that are seen elsewhere in the UK and those can only be tackled with significant public backing. We have long argued that there needs to be a rebalancing of regional spending so that more of the taxes that are raised in London are spent in London.”
Employment and Immigration: “Improve the skills gap”
· 58% of business leaders feel that “graduates too often lack basic literacy and numeracy skills”.
· 37% of business leaders feel it should be easier to recruit skilled workers from abroad.
“London needs better programming talent. All jobs are moving towards software, programming and maths knowledge and if London is to compete effectively, this is the only thing that will make a difference,” said Joshua March, technology entrepreneur and founder, Conversocial.
Housing: “Build housing people can actually afford”
· 89% of business leaders feel that London is too expensive a place to live if you earn an average salary.
· 51% of business leaders have seriously considered moving out of London in the past few years.
“A young person in London would have to not eat, pay rent or go out and save every penny of their wages for three years to get the deposit required for a starter home. The mayor needs to find a way of ensuring more homes of all types and sizes are delivered in the capital,” Steve Turner, communications director, Home Builders Federation said.
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