London is the industrial, commercial, financial, social and cultural hub of the nation.
It is globally unique in that it is simultaneously a hotspot for technological innovation, a home to a world-leading financial services sector, and a national political focal point.
But our recent explorations of vibrant capital brought to life some serious challenges facing the city, and opportunities we could be taking fuller advantage of. We brought different sorts of people together over the last few months to try and answer some important questions: How can business shape an even more vibrant capital? How can we ensure London remains an attractive city to do business in and through?
Tackling London’s cost of living
London’s position as a world-leading business hub depends on its ability to attract and retain talent. Businesses need a diversity of skills and mindsets to thrive. Being able to harness London’s talent pool is one of the key things that attracts business to the city.
But what if talent can’t afford to live here? Our research found that almost half of participants who plan to leave London said housing affordability was the biggest factor influencing where they decide to live in the future. Leavers are also disproportionately young professionals (32% 25-34 years old).
If London’s graduates and young professionals are priced out of the capital, will we still be able to maintain our position as a world leader? Businesses in London must consider ways of supporting employees to allow them to stay in London.
Pursuing profits with purpose
A topic that surfaced during our recent vibrant capital summit was the opportunity London has to become a hub for profit with purpose and in doing so, become an even more attractive place to work.
Rushanara Ali MP spoke to our guests about business acting with purpose. She said that a young person’s earnings are still more likely to be determined by their father’s wage than their own talent. She proposed addressing social mobility and child poverty in real terms, not looking at it as a cost, but as something that will improve the UK economy - adding 4% to our GDP.
Participants working together in a breakout group came up with a brilliant idea around this very topic. They proposed a ‘London Charter’ – a group made up of companies committed to best practice across several areas that are crucial to improving the professional well-being of Londoners. This includes reducing income inequality with a London Living Wage for everyone in the city and fair zero-hours contracts.
Working towards a vibrant future
So far, vibrant capital has given us a platform to ask people how they feel about London as a place to live, work and do business. It has enabled us to debate the challenges and opportunities facing the city and has produced innovative solutions to some of these. Mostly it has proven what we can achieve if we work together.
What has really struck me amongst the uncertainties of the last couple of years is London’s resilience, something we should be proud of. The city has continued to grow and remains open.
Let’s continue in this spirit by finding opportunities to collaborate so that we can work together to solve some of the challenges facing London. How can we solve the city’s housing crisis? How can we protect the diversity of the communities which Londoners love? Are our travel links sustainable? Why do smart young professionals choose to jump out of the capital’s talent pool – and how can we win them back? Does the city have what it takes to attract the talent of the future?
If we can start to pool resources and think creatively, I have no doubt we’ll be able to build that vibrant capital we’re all passionate about.