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A modern Industrial Strategy – what does it mean for London?

The government has released its long awaited Industrial Strategy green paper setting out the ten strategic pillars it believes will drive UK growth. The paper sets out how to create the right conditions so that every part of the UK can meet its potential.

Many of the initiatives and approaches outlined in the Green Paper are a recap of existing programmes and funding streams. However, the overall theme of building on strengths while tackling underlying weaknesses closely mirrors the recommendations in London First’s own growth plan, London 2036: An agenda for jobs and growth.

This evidence-based plan sets out the key priorities and no-regret decisions for London in the wake of Brexit. Three key themes emerged, identifying that London needs to:

  • stay open for business
  • fuel innovation and growth and;
  • invest in meeting the needs of its workforce.

London’s economy needs to be sustained for the benefit of the whole country, not just for Londoners. Its economy is deeply intertwined with that of the rest of the UK. As a global business hub, London attracts major organisations to headquarter here, creating opportunities for nationwide operations. The capital is a gateway for international talent, tourists, and investment.

The government recognises that different places will have different priorities and the way the ten pillars will relate to each other will vary. Looking across these pillars there are three that stand out and closely overlap with our own growth plan for London:

Developing skills

Our members have repeatedly told us that access to the right skills and talent to grow is the number one concern as we look towards exiting the EU. There is a need to dramatically scale up skills efforts to ensure all Londoners can access employment in a changing and increasingly competitive labour market.

Upgrading infrastructure

Investment in transport improves job creation and productivity, and removes long-term barriers to growth. Investment in transport and infrastructure plays a key role in driving and supporting private investment, particularly in housing where the need in London is acute. Good digital infrastructure is opens up opportunities for growth through better connected businesses and consumers. Critically, London lacks adequate financing mechanisms; the Mayor needs more fiscal devolution to enable long-term investment.

Cultivating world-leading sectors

London is a major centre for world-class clusters in finance, business services, creative and tech. Its strength in technology is also complemented by its position in the sciences. The city’s world-class research clusters are leveraging the city’s data and analytics expertise. We have an opportunity to build on these strengths by working with government to develop specific deals that allow growth sectors access to key talent and a business-friendly regulatory environment.

Next steps

The government consultation closes on 17 April. London First is working with members and London’s government to ensure an evidence-based and single message is communicated to national government about how London can support UK-wide growth.

We want to engage members with this response. Please register for our Industrial Strategy – First thoughts lunch hosted by Mace on 14 February, or contact David Lutton; dlutton@londonfirst.co.uk, for more information.

Hear what our CEO Jasmine had to say on the Industrial Strategy green paper in her recent blog.

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