Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
How do we begin to build back better?
9 April 2020
It has been another difficult week for the UK as we all continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, I have been inspired by the sheer number of stories I have heard on a daily basis, of the incredible things our NHS, transport workers and supermarkets are doing to support us all, as well as the full range of our members, who are rising to the challenge and supporting their local communities, our key workers, and other businesses. We are highlighting the contributions on our website – recognising business as a force for good. We’ve created a forum for exchange for our members’ CSR leads and we will continue to showcase inspiring ideas and best practise – so please do get in touch.
Our virtual round table discussions with CEOs and Chairs have informed our conversations with government at all levels.
In our engagement with Number 10, the Mayor and his Strategic Coordinating Group meetings, London MPs, other political stakeholders and with the Bank of England, our Covid-19 focus has spanned lock-down, through unlocking, to recovery.
In the here and now, there is recognition that the Government has been quick to take bold, decisive action to support jobs and the economy. Not surprisingly, there have been gaps and operationalisation problems. We pushed early for clarity on construction and support for our airports, and currently we are highlighting the very real risks to the sustainability of the apprenticeship system, as independent training providers have not been given support. We’ve supported calls to help the charity sector and the need to extend business rates relief, notably to the creative sector, so vital to our Capital’s success.
Many businesses, especially those with global operations, are also preparing for unlocking and can assist government in its thinking here as there will be a need for clear planning and communication, for example in the designation of key and essential workers, recognising that definitions will need to flex as we begin to end the lockdown. Members are clear that Government should begin to demonstrate that it has the plans in place to get the economy motoring, as soon as restrictions are lifted. Publishing the delayed National Infrastructure Strategy in due course would show a clear intent from Government, unlock private sector investment, and would boost growth for businesses of all sectors and sizes at a time when they would need it.
More recently, we are beginning conversations about what the future looks like for London. Recognising the Capital’s role as the engine of the UK’s economy, what do we need in place to get this economy firing on all cylinders, for and with the whole country? Many lessons are being learnt now, and things that were thought impossible have rapidly become normal. Earlier in my career, when leading humanitarian organisations responding to disasters, we aimed to deliver with immediacy while making plans to ‘build back better’. What does that mean for our Capital?
I’ll be continuing to speak with as many of you as possible in the coming weeks, and we will be convening a core group of leaders to develop thinking on this question, with a solution-oriented, collaborative and pro-active approach, to assist decision-makers in the months ahead.
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