Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
A look ahead to the 2021 London Infrastructure Summit
10 September 2021
In 2019, London was not only the most populous city in Western Europe, but also the most economically productive. After eighteen months of stop-start measures and false dawns, September marks something of a turning point in the journey to recovery, with more people returning to workplaces, public transport busier than any time since March 2020 and Londoners flocking to restaurants and bars in the evenings and weekends in far greater numbers. The buzz in the capital is palpable and the issue now is not if the capital recovers, but how quickly.
It took over 70 years for London to recover from the Second World War and we simply can’t afford a repeat of that, especially given London’s important role in generating growth for the whole of UK: the capital accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s total economic output and delivered a pre-pandemic net tax surplus of around £39bn.
London has been hit hard by the pandemic relative to other UK and global cities because of its dependence on footfall from workers and visitors from across the country and overseas tourists, and a public transport system largely funded from passenger fares – a model that was under strain before the pandemic but blown apart by successive lockdowns and the shift to home — and hybrid working. Some of the long-standing inequalities in the capital have also been exacerbated, with the result that London has the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the country, including for child poverty.
The recovery presents an opportunity to address these challenges and to put the capital on an accelerated path to generating much-needed growth for the UK. There are three no-regret actions we’re calling on government to support London government in delivering to help accelerate the recovery. These centre on bringing people back – from across the UK and unlocking international travel; maintaining investment in public transport with a long-term sustainable funding deal for Transport for London; and action to support Londoners whose jobs have been displaced by the pandemic. A dedicated Recovery Minister should lead the charge, and with concerted action, the payback could be an £8 – 12bn tax boost by 2023.
Next week, many of these issues will be high on the agenda at London’s largest gathering of infrastructure experts – the London Infrastructure Summit — which is set to return for a week-long series of in-person and virtual events. Our stellar line up of speakers including John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London at the Greater London Authority, Sarah Bentley, CEO of Thames Water, and Andy Byford, Commissioner at Transport for London — plus many more — will discuss the future of rail, roads, and aviation, how recovery can also support the road to net zero and champion inclusion and diversity.
We hope the London Infrastructure Summit 2021 can get the sector talking about the critical role it has to play in renewing the capital and delivering prosperity for the whole country, and building a bigger, bolder and brighter London than before.
And most importantly, a big thank you to our headline partner Uber; our corporate partners Arcadis, Jacobs, Port of London Authority and Siemens; and our support partners Cory, Dar Group and Tier.
Tune in to series one and two of What Next for London? to hear views on London, our Covid-19 recovery and more