What to expect from London First in the year ahead
3 January 2020
2020 is set to be a busy year politically, both in the UK and abroad. The new Government has an ambitious domestic agenda – and wants to be seen to be domestically focused and delivering. The Brexit parliamentary deadlock has been broken and the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is near certain to pass; but the need to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU – and deals with the rest of the world – will soon take centre stage, and absorb much of the energy the government would like to spend on domestic issues.
Locally, we are nearing the London Mayoral election on 7 May, which will part-shape London’s future for the next five years. We are part of DebateTech, working to create a tech manifesto for the capital, which will be launched at joint hustings in February. We are also coordinating this year’s London Business Board hustings, due to take place in April. So keep an eye out for events and updates from us in the coming months.
Our Next Horizon sets out our programme for the next five years. While uncertain events will inevitably drive some of our workstreams, below are five of the areas we know we’ll be working on over the next few months.
Building London Summit 2020
Our first flagship event of the year, on January 30, offers the opportunity to hear first-hand from leading Mayoral candidates on their vision for delivering the homes the capital needs. We’ll also be launching our High Streets Manifesto, setting out the key asks needed to ensure London’s high streets and town centres are at the heart of local communities, with updated, responsive planning and licensing rules that reflect the changing needs of Londoners.
Public investment in infrastructure
Through the election, the Conservatives made welcome commitments on the level of public capital investment. The manifesto emphasised developing gigabit connectivity and delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail: two projects which are both sorely needed.There has been less clarity on housing — a set of reforms are promised but the amount of cash that will be provided is unclear. And the manifesto was noncommittal on HS2, which is essential in improving connectivity within the UK, and essentially silent on investment in London’s transport network.
Over the next few months – through the budget, publication of the national infrastructure strategy (NIS) and spending review – we will be continuing to make the case for investing in London, and the UK’s, infrastructure to best support productivity, jobs and growth across the country. That means delivering HS2, providing more investment in affordable housing in London, more investment in transport infrastructure across the country. In particular, we will be arguing that the NIS needs to follow the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations and give Transport for London the resources it needs to provide the new physical transport capacity needed to support London’s continued growth.
Immigration and skills
A global Britain needs a global workforce: we continue to make the case with our #FullStrength partners on the need for an immigration regime which will allow British businesses to access the skills they need. We are campaigning for a salary requirement for overseas workers in line with the London Living Wage, as opposed to the higher threshold recommended by the Government’s advisory body, as well as pushing for the implementation of a two-year visa for students who have completed their studies.
On skills, we have partnered with the North West Business Leadership Team to highlight the pragmatic, achievable changes needed to make the apprenticeship system work for UK businesses and the economy. We’ll be launching this new report in Parliament on 3rd February.
Next Generation Programme
We’re committed to boosting diversity and inclusion across the capital, and will be starting a new next generation programme in 2020. We’ll be asking members and stakeholders to nominate rising stars to engage in a programme of activities which support their broader business leadership, including involving them in our policy development, providing insights into how the wider city works and networking events with keynote speakers.
London Data Commission
January marks the tenth anniversary of the London Datastore, a portal where everyone can access data relating to the capital, from recycling and crime to homelessness. But to make best use of the vast amount of data produced in the capital, the Datastore needs a more ambitious vision.
That’s why we’ve convened a London Data Commission – alongside Oliver Wyman and Arup – to bring together representatives from the private sector to work closely with the GLA Chief Digital Officer, the London Office of Technology and Innovation and the London boroughs to find the way forward to unlocking data-led solutions to some of the city’s key challenges. The Commission will seek to understand where data can really make a difference; and explore the practicalities of sharing data between the private and public sectors – the benefits, risks and barriers, and how that can be balanced with privacy and data ethics – so that in the next ten years data can truly help to solve the big issues for London.
As ever, if you’d like more information on any of these please let me know.
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