Keeping our capital working for the UK

Championing business priorities in Westminster

This week, members of the London First team met with key policymakers in Westminster to champion the priorities for London business.

We had a positive meeting with the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Brandon Lewis, highlighting the priorities for getting our capital Brexit-ready: accelerating housebuilding, attracting global talent and developing local skills, and delivering Crossrail 2. We look forward to bringing him together with our Partner members to discuss these priorities in greater detail in the next few months.

We also met with Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to discuss the Airports National Policy Statement. London First initiated the Let Britain Fly campaign in 2013 to call for airport capacity expansion in London and the South East. We continue to make the case that Parliament must back the decision to expand Heathrow Airport, and make the most of existing aviation capacity. We look forward to hearing more on this from the Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, at our reception next month.

Ahead of Labour’s launch of its affordable housing green paper this week, we met with Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey, to consider what needs to happen for London to start building the 66,000 new homes it needs. We discussed our call for Government to invest more money and for London’s boroughs to make better use of their land by embracing the opportunities afforded by high-density housing. We look forward to bringing our members together with the Shadow Housing Secretary in the near future.

Having made the case for London’s local authorities to take a look at their Green Belt land to ensure they are protecting the right spaces – rather than disused urban land – we also met with Siobhan McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, to discuss the work she is doing to champion this issue. There is no single solution to the capital’s housing crisis; increasing supply requires action on multiple fronts. We are encouraging policymakers at all levels to consider the solutions we’re putting forward.

Looking ahead to next week, we are hosting the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, at a roundtable dinner. The event will provide us with a timely opportunity to discuss our proposal – put together with input from many of our members – for a fair and managed immigration system. We are also meeting with the Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis, to talk through visas and the tourism sector deal that forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

It’s been a busy week for our team in Westminster. We’ve had some very positive engagement and are looking forward to continuing the constructive conversations – and delivering results – over the coming months

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A capital year of achievement celebrated at London First awards

Battersea Academy of Skills Excellence, Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, and the Night Tube among the winners

The seventh annual London First awards have celebrated achievements in skills and employment, transport, healthcare and business leadership across the capital.

Winners include Battersea Academy of Skills Excellence for providing training and employment routes into the 17,000 new jobs created at Battersea Power Station; Barts Health NHS Trust and the Royal London Hospital for their work as one of the UK’s largest children’s hospitals; TfL for a hugely successful first year of the Night Tube; and UK Power Networks for electrifying London’s buses and helping to improve the capital’s air quality.

The evening’s ‘Champion for London’ award went to Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, for his work promoting the capital as a world-leading business hub and representing thousands of digital innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and experts.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “London is a hugely successful global city, attracting talented people, investment and visitors from around the world. But we have to work hard to keep our capital the top of the global charts and delivering for the whole of the UK. These awards give us a chance to celebrate those with a vision for London’s future, helping to enrich our capital, creating growth and keeping London the best city in the world to do business.”

Hundreds of London’s leading figures gathered at One Marylebone for the London First awards. The awards were voted for by London First’s members, across professional and financial services, construction and property, infrastructure, retail, hospitality and technology and telecoms.

The full list of the 2018 London First award winners is:

Keep London Moving award, sponsored by Jacobs

  • Awarded to UK Power Networks

For electrifying London buses and helping to improve the air quality in the capital.

Contribution to London’s Cultural Excellence award, sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland

  • Awarded to the Night Tube

For its impact in transforming the safety, experience and access to the 24-hour economy and for those working in the night-time economy across the city.

Improvement to Londoner’s Quality of Life, sponsored by UK Power Networks

  • Awarded to Barts and the Royal London Hospital

For providing London with a leading paediatric service within a dedicated Women and Children’s unit, as well as a new district general hospital with specialist tertiary care services.

Skills London Award, sponsored by Barratt London

  • Awarded to Battersea Academy of Skills Excellence

For the training and matching of local people for the 17,000 employment and training opportunities being created throughout the shops, offices and restaurants moving into Battersea Power Station.

Champion for London, sponsored by Kier

  • Awarded to Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates

For his energy and enthusiasm in promoting London’s tech sector in the UK and beyond, and in championing the sector’s needs to government.

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Giving residents their say in estate regeneration

Mairead Carroll, Programme Director, Housing

I have lived in east London for the past 20 years, with the last 10 in Newham. Close to where I live stand three tall towers all nearly empty, all in various stages of disrepair. On a clear day you can watch the pigeons who have made one of the towers their home, fly in and out of a broken window.

Newham has a population of 343,500 and a housing waiting list of 25,729. It is a borough that has seen significant investment, yet still has 29% of children living in poverty. It is a borough that has led the way in tackling rogue landlords and beds in sheds. It is a borough, that in the space of two years, spent over £90 million on temporary accommodation. It is a borough desperately in need of decent, affordable homes.

The estate where these tall towers stand needs action. This probably includes the demolition of at least one tower and in order to do so, money will be required from the GLA. Rokhsana Fiaz, the newly selected Labour Mayoral candidate for Newham, has promised residents a vote on any proposals to regenerate the estate.

The Mayor’s consultation ‘Proposed new funding condition to require resident ballots in estate regeneration’ closed this month and we will get the results after the local elections in May. Having worked for a housing association for 11 years, I know how complex and challenging estate regeneration can be. It is not just about units or numbers, it is about homes and communities. It is about family and support networks. It is about creating places where people can thrive and resident engagement is essential to this. In our report on estate regeneration we showed how positive resident engagement can ensure great places to live.

However, there is a significant number of people who don’t have a voice in London’s housing crisis. The thousands across the capital on housing waiting lists and in need of a decent, affordable home. This is why, in our response to the Mayor’s consultation, we propose that where an estate is being regenerated and additional affordable homes are being built – even if it is just one home – it’s not just existing residents who are consulted. Those on the housing waiting list should be given the chance to have their voices heard as well.

You can see our response here


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Promising to build new homes will unlock support in London elections

  • Polling ahead of 3 May elections finds 43% of London’s voters are more favourable towards a candidate who backs new homes
  • Housing is key election battleground but candidates underestimate public support for new homes
  • Majority of Londoners agree more homes need to be built in their neighbourhood

New polling from London First and Grosvenor Britain & Ireland1 has found that housing is a key electoral battleground ahead of the London local elections, with over four in ten Londoners saying it will influence how they vote on 3 May.

The polling reveals that, for the millions of Londoners who rent2, housing is the key electoral issue with 43% agreeing it will help them decide how to vote, just ahead of Brexit (42%) and a candidates’ position on the NHS (37%).

London’s housing crisis is widely recognised by voters, with nearly three quarters of Londoners (74%) agreeing there’s a shortage of homes in the capital, rising to 80% among people who rent.

For the political parties, getting to grips with the housing crisis promises to unlock electoral success, with 43% of voters saying they would be more favourable towards a local politician who promises to build more homes in their area, compared to just 15% who say it would make them less favourable.

The potential backing for a pro-housing candidate rises to nearly half of voters aged 18-24 (47%) and over half (51%) of voters in central London boroughs.

The research also spoke to 200 of London’s councillors about the key issues ahead of polling day3 and revealed many candidates are under-estimating public support for building more homes. Only 29% of London’s existing councillors believe they’d see more support if they backed more homes, compared with 43% of the public who would be more favourable towards a pro-building candidate. For 28% of councillors they’d expect less public support, compared with 15% of the public who said they’d be less favourable.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “It’s clear there are votes to be won in unblocking London’s housebuilding hold ups. Londoners are struggling to find a place to live and business can’t afford the continued drain of people away from our capital. Now is the time for our politicians to finally get to grips with the housing crisis – we need more money, more land to develop and better ways to build.”

Craig McWilliam, Chief Executive, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, added: “The continual delivery of high quality housing in all its forms is vital to London’s success, particularly if we are to attract and retain talent. It’s critical that canvassing on this key battleground translates into action. The descent of the housing debate into a standoff between developers and communities is self-defeating. We need bold public sector leadership to cut through that debate, as well as private sector investment at scale. Overcoming London’s housing shortage will demand enormous pragmatism, honesty and creativity from all sides.”

The impact of the housing crisis on Londoners

Among those who agree there is a housing shortage in their area, a staggering four out of ten people say the result is being unable to find somewhere to call home, either to rent (41%) or buy (38%). For nearly a third (29%), the high cost of housing is making it difficult to keep up with rent payments and a quarter (22%) are living in over-crowded properties. Nearly one in ten (9%) say either they or close friends and family have been stuck sofa-surfing.


There are some challenges ahead for a pro-building local politician. While the overwhelming majority of Londoners agree there is a housing shortage (74%), that falls to 57% who think the shortage is in their local area.

The good news is most people (57%) agree there should be more homes built in their local area, rising to nearly two thirds of people in inner London (63%).

Delivering more affordable homes, new or improved community facilities or better transport links are seen as key to winning local backing for developments. 38% of those who said there shouldn’t be more homes in their local area said they’d be more supportive if building meant more affordable homes; 36% said it would take new or improved schools, libraries or health facilities; and 35% said better transport links.

Only one in four people (26%) believe their local area shouldn’t see any new homes built, with resistance to new development more pronounced amongst people who already own their own homes (40%, compared to just 15% of renters).




1 YouGov online survey of 1043 Londoners aged 18+. Fieldwork conducted between 13th – 19th March 2018 and figures weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+)

2 London First: ‘Everything you need to know about build to rent in London’, September 2017

3 YouGov representative survey of 200 London councillors. Fieldwork conducted between 15th March – 2nd April 2018

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Working for a trade deal for business

A year on from Article 50 being triggered, we were delighted to offer members the opportunity to engage with Prof L Alan Winters, Director of UK Trade Policy Observatory, and Stephanie Flanders of Bloomberg, at a discussion hosted by Linklaters.

Prof. Winters was quick to set out that the EU summit 22-23 March had drastically reduced the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 without a deal, establishing some certainty for business. Nevertheless, the shape and timing of a future trade deal cementing the new relationship between the EU and the UK was still deemed unclear.

Winters reasoned that as long as the UK is not prepared to accept its obligations for the benefits of the EU single market the EU was unlikely to agree a future deal. It was contended that both the UK and the EU have a great interest in achieving a level of clarity, but that an agreement won’t be detailed by March 2019.

Winters focused on the intricate details of the difficulties of service trade agreements, as no trade agreements besides the EU provide the special kind of deal on financial services as sought by the UK government in the negotiations.

For businesses to keep running smoothly, Winters argued that staying in the UK customs union is an absolute necessity. Attributes of the single market, like regular alignment between markets, are however just as important, as the two systems “were designed together; if you are only in one you only have a quarter of the benefit.”

Professor Winters and Stephanie Flanders closed the session stating that businesses must make their needs and possible adverse effects of leaving the EU known to government to get a deal that works for business.

Read about our efforts the past year and our priorities in the negotiations here.

Sophia Wolpers, Brexit Policy Officer, and Natasha Ryan, Brexit Campaigns Manager

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