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13 February 2019

"Act now to strengthen relations with the country", says new report by Dr Jack Brown

Dr Jack Brown calls for the capital to reinvent itself in the eyes of the rest of the UK.

Dr Jack Brown speaks at the launch of 'London, UK : Strengthening ties between capital and country', a report from Centre for London
Dr Jack Brown speaks at the launch of 'London, UK : Strengthening ties between capital and country', a report from Centre for London

Dr Jack Brown, who has recently been appointed as Lecturer in London Studies in the Department of Political Economy at King’s, has authored a new report with  Centre for London  where he is also a Senior Researcher.

The report,  London, UK : Strengthening ties between capital and country, emphasises that London’s city leaders must do more to strengthen relations with businesses, local government and institutions across the country. 

It recommends the introduction of an alliance of and the opening of ‘regional embassies’ to provide a space for British companies to do business in the capital. 

Dr Brown said: 

"London contributes hugely to national life, not to mention its vital economic role. But simply stating that the capital redistributes its wealth around the country is not enough. We must move beyond the figures and make the case for London’s place at the heart of its nation." 

Drawing on interviews with local government officials, MPs, business and cultural leaders from across the UK, as well as a YouGov poll of 2,000 British people, the research reveals that: 

The benefit of London’s economy is not felt locally

London contributes a great deal to the UK economy, raising £32.6 billion more in tax revenue than it received in public spending in 2016-17. Every UK region outside the Wider South East receives more than they raise, but 68 per cent of non-Londoners do not think that London contributes to their local economy. 

London is seen as inaccessible by a majority of non-Londoners

While a majority express pride in London, just 3 per cent of Brits think of London as a place for UK residents to visit, and a huge majority (78 per cent) said that they didn’t think that living and working in London was ‘a realistic option for people like me’. 

London is seen as part of the Westminster bubble

Non-Londoners primarily think of London’s role as the home of Parliament and government (22 per cent). This, in turn, helps to fuel perceptions of a London-centric bias in national decisions. Interviews with decision makers revealed that many felt that London gets an unfair amount of public funding – and not just for transport, but for public services in general. 

The report goes on to highlight positive examples of politicians, businesses and cultural institutions working together to strengthen ties across the country. From knowledge sharing between London and Manchester’s transport bodies, to joint tourism initiatives and private sector collaboration, good progress is being made. But the report urges city leaders to do more to ensure London fulfils its role as England and the UK’s capital. 

To achieve this the report offer  five recommendations

  • Tell British people that “London is Yours” and embrace London’s role as a capital city 
  • Formalise a powerful UK Alliance of Mayors 
  • Encourage cities and regions to bid for business together 
  • Establish regional embassies in London 
  • Spread London’s cultural capital across the country 

Commenting on the proposals, Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP, Co-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse All Party Parliamentary Group, said: "This report is a welcome assessment of London’s strengths and what more it could do to serve the nation and the towns and cities of the North. A new outward-looking policy would mean an end to London versus the rest, where London is an active partner to the regions in spreading the prosperity and new opportunities."

In this story

Jack Brown

Lecturer in London Studies and London Partnerships Director