Keeping our capital working for the UK

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Facing Facts on Migration

Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First



Over the last several months London First and our partner PwC have spent thousands of hours poring through the raw, real time data on UK and non UK workers in the London economy. Why all this painstaking effort? Because, despite all the talk of a post truth era, facts matter.  Certainly for business.  We want to start from the data and work towards solutions. In this report we make no policy recommendations or lobbying points. We simply lift the bonnet on the London economy, itself a critical engine of economic activity for the rest of the UK.

We take the period of the last ten years up to 2015. During that time London’s population has grown by nearly a million people. Over the same period, the number of people in work has grown by 85,400 a year, with 20,000 of that going to UK born workers. The proportion of unemployed UK-born Londoners has dropped. Unemployment in London has fallen to 5.5% at the end of last year – well within the OECD’s definition of full employment.  The number of EU workers has doubled to 12%, playing a critical role across all sectors.

It is no coincidence that over these ten years, London’s tax contribution to the UK exchequer has risen from a quarter to nearly a third, according to the Centre for Cities. And this is not just about London – it’s now almost impossible to find a major London headquartered company that doesn’t split its business activities across UK sites. This report also finds that 35p of every extra pound of value created by an EU worker spreads around the UK.

These facts clearly raise questions about how we ensure London’s labour market stays responsive for further growth and success post Brexit. A phased and realistic immigration approach from government and investing in the right mix of global and home grown talent will be key.

As a first step, guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the U.K. has been a top priority for our members that we have been campaigning for since last summer.  So yesterday’s House of Lords vote to amend Article50 is welcome, and the PM would do well to listen to this and act on her previously announced intention to provide this certainty.

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