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London looks to post-Brexit future with a new plan for jobs and growth

Angus Knowles-Cutler, Deloitte London Office Managing Partner and U.K. Vice Chairman

With the clock ticking towards Brexit, London’s economy faces significant challenges and opportunities. We cannot take the capital’s success for granted, particularly with current uncertainty showing no signs of abating. The Mayor’s draft Economic Development Strategy (EDS), setting out the business plan for growth in London, could not be timelier.

The EDS has been several months in the making, a process which I have been heavily involved with in my role as Deputy Chair of London’s local enterprise partnership. The timing of its release this week allows for it to respond to the Government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper published last month, which requires cities and regions to develop their own ‘Local Industrial Strategies’ to identify priorities for boosting local skills, increasing innovation, and enhancing infrastructure and business growth. The result has been that the EDS includes a clear sectoral focus that aligns with national priorities whilst acknowledging London’s unique international position in sectors ranging from advanced urban services through to the creative and cultural sectors.

These distinct characteristics are what makes London an international hub for business, finance and tourism and means that the capital is well positioned to drive growth and support the industrial strategy’s aims of driving growth and productivity across the UK. But growth can’t be pursued at any cost, and the EDS sets out how the Mayor will ensure that all Londoners share in the benefits of London’s prosperity as it grows.

London’s LEP, now known as the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) has played a strong role in convening the business community around a sharp set of recommendation and priorities. Earlier in the year London First worked with the Mayor’s office and the LEP to publish ‘London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth’. This evidence-based report, produced in consultation with hundreds of London’s leaders between 2014-16 sets out a detailed set of growth priorities for London which support the draft EDS and other key Mayoral strategies such as the London Plan and the Mayor’s Skills Strategy.

Central government has taken a step in the right direction by putting ‘places’ at the heart of its plans for our post-Brexit economy. The Industrial Strategy White Paper recognises that decentralised governance – through city deals, growth deals and mayoral devolution deals – can improve economic decision making and spur innovation and productivity. And I am pleased to see that LEP’s look set to play a key role in coordinating this activity at a local level. As business-led partnership bodies this can only be welcomed.

Further devolution will be a critical part of the Industrial Strategy’s success, given that the negotiations over Brexit will inevitably absorb a great deal of the policy-making capacity of central government over the coming years.

To realise  the vision set out in the Mayor’s EDS, London needs the powers and fiscal tools to build on its strengths and address its weaknesses. This means fully devolving funding streams and implementing the recommendations of the London Finance Commission.

 

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