Party conference season has been a great opportunity for us to bang the drum for London with key decision makers in Government, the Mayor’s office and the boroughs. It was also a time to celebrate big wins on two of our key campaign areas: skills and housing. We were delighted the Government heeded our calls for reform of the Apprenticeship Levy and took on a number of our Skills Commission’s recommendations and that it is lifting the cap on councils’ ability to borrow to build — another London First win. It was also fantastic to catch up with so many members at our various events across Liverpool and Birmingham.
Conservative party conference
Conservative mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, kicked off our London Dinner, where he outlined his key priorities, in particular, affordable housing. We also heard from Conservative party Vice-Chair for London, Paul Scully, who echoed our calls for a focus on skills, as well as addressing London’s housing crisis.
We hosted the Cities and Growth reception with the West Midlands Combined Authority and Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, joined by stakeholders from across the UK at a time when the construction of HS2, a vital project connecting our capital with the Midlands, had just commenced.
Our team had excellent discussions with the Education Secretary Damian Hinds and his team on our skills agenda, as well as with the Skills Minister, Anne Milton and Universities Minister Sam Gyimah. We also made the case for a fair and managed immigration system with the Home Secretary, Immigration Minister and a number of London MPs. We are continuing to ensure the voice of London’s employers continues to be heard in the immigration debate so business can access the global talent needed to keep our city growing and prospering.
The high point of the conference came when the Chancellor announced a review of the Apprenticeship Levy, following a long-running London First campaign, which saw three of our Skills Commission’s five recommendations adopted, including better resourcing for the Institute for Apprenticeships in order to bring new standards to market, and working in consultation with business on apprenticeship reform. This is a major win for business, but our work is not done. We will continue to engage with stakeholders across Whitehall and Westminster to ensure that the announced changes get apprenticeships working better for everyone and get numbers heading in the right direction.
Labour party conference
We kicked off Labour party conference with a buzzing London Reception, with guest speaker Sadiq Khan. The Mayor paid tribute to the important role London First plays in City Hall’s engagement with the business community and we’re delighted he has recently confirmed that he will open Skills London next month.
Chief Executive Jasmine Whitbread discussed our proposal for a fair and managed post-Brexit immigration system with the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott and joined Universities UK, business groups and MPs in highlighting the need to keep our economy open to international students.
Liverpool city-region’s Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram spoke at our Cities and Growth reception on the role of regional mayors in making the case for the key issues that will keep the whole of the UK at the top of the global charts post-Brexit, chiefly infrastructure and skills. The reception showcased our successful partnership with the North West Business Leadership Team and Northern Powerhouse Partnership with whom we’ve been making the case for Government to commit to delivering Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, following the National Infrastructure Assessment’s support for the schemes and both being viable.
Next steps on government activity
Whilst a strong start to the autumn season, we’ve a busy period ahead. With the Budget and Immigration White Paper approaching, we will continue to advocate our members’ priorities on people, homes and transport at all levels of government.
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