News in briefMay 22, 2015
Britain’s businesses need access to talent
Net long-term migration to the UK was estimated to be 318,000 in 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics. This was just below the previous peak of 320,000 in the year ending June 2005 but a statistically significant increase from 209,000 in 2013.
Responding to the ONS’s new figures on immigration and the governments comments, Mark Hilton, Director of Immigration Policy at London First, said:
“Combatting unwelcome, illegal immigration is absolutely right, but it is vital that the government does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Britain’s businesses, especially in the capital, need access to talent from around the world if we are to continue to remain one of the world’s most innovative and productive countries.
“That’s why a reformed immigration system must be nimble enough to allow business to speedily respond to increased demand and not stand in the way of our country’s economic growth.”
London First runs a programme of research on immigration. Recent publications have included:
EU membership underpins prosperity in Britain
As business leaders start to discuss EU membership and the impact of an EU referendum on the UK, Dr David Lutton, Director of Competitiveness at London First, commented on why membership is important to business. He said:
“EU membership gives Britain’s businesses access to the largest single market in the world and ensures that we are a magnet for foreign investment. While those UK businesses which trade with mainland Europe can visibly see the benefits to their bottom line, EU membership – behind the scenes – underpins jobs and prosperity across the whole country.
“The single market generates affluence that helps even businesses that don’t directly trade internationally, for example by creating opportunities in supply chains. Being at the heart of a modernised, more competitive and outward-looking single market is undoubtedly in the national interest.”
Devolution plans: Chancellor must keep working with Mayor of London, says London First
London First has responded to the Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement on devolution to cities.
On the Cities Devolution Bill:
John Dickie, director of strategy and policy at London First, said:
“We welcome the Chancellor’s focus on devolving powers to cities. The government needs to continue to work with the Mayor of London to ensure the capital has the powers it needs – particularly over housing and transport.
“London is growing at its fastest rate in history and this rapid growth has left the city exposed and over-reliant on national whims to meet local needs.
“London’s inability to deal with its housing crisis is becoming increasingly clear, while Transport for London’s reliance on a settlement that is uncertain from one year to the next is a problem.
“Let’s be clear: more devolution for London is not a big ask. The UK is one of the most centralised democracies in the world – for example, London retains decision-making over only 6 per cent of the tax raised in the city, while New York keeps half.
On how and why devolution could benefit London:
David Leam, director of Infrastructure policy at London First, said:
“If the Treasury isn’t willing to commit to sufficient long-term funding for London infrastructure itself, then giving London government greater powers to spend tax raised in the city could make a big difference to the capital’s fortunes.
“It could increase certainty and range of funding streams on offer and – most importantly – strengthen the incentives for local government to take difficult decisions on local issues.
“They are more likely to support housing and infrastructure investment because they would see a greater share of the rewards and suffer fewer worries about what other parts of the country think.
“Boris Johnson has said deals could be done on a case-by-case basis, and there is potential there – for example the Northern Line extension to Battersea being funded in part by retention of additional business rates.
“The downside is that negotiating these kinds of deals still require cities to go cap in hand to the Treasury.”