MPs on the loftily titled All-Party Parliamentary Group for London as a Global City published their first report today with a series of recommendations.
There is much in it the Standard can readily agree with: revisiting the unjustified axing of tax-free shopping; plans to tackle the skills shortages that are holding back sectors ranging from hospitality to tech; an overhaul of the business rates system; a “wholesale review” of the planning system.
The report makes the point that London’s status as one of the world’s top global cities cannot be taken for granted and the capital has been woefully overlooked in the Government’s levelling up agenda. It receives just 42p per capita from the Government’s Community Renewal Fund, compared with £3.79 for the East Midlands
Sadly there is little expectation the paper will rise to the top of the in-trays of any of the Cabinet ministers who make the key calls on these issues, let alone those of Rishi Sunak or Boris Johnson.
For the Government, London is the goose that keeps laying the fiscal golden eggs but can be left to fend for itself in a corner of the farmyard. But the report lays bare just how vital it is to the British economy, accounting for a quarter of output, half of foreign direct inward investment, and 55% of inbound visitor spending.
The Government led by a former Mayor of London has made a political call to downgrade the capital’s priority in its decision-making.
London can weather that in the short-term but as this well researched report makes clear the consequences for the whole of the UK could ultimately be disastrous.