Press Release

Improving regional growth doesn’t have to mean “levelling down” London

Centre for London’s response to the report, Levelling up: Rebalancing growth-enhancing spending, from think tank Onward.

Richard Brown, Deputy Director at Centre for London said:

“Improving regional growth is an important and laudable aim but it does not need to be at the expense of levelling down London, as this report suggests.

“There are four specific issues with Onward’s analysis.

“First, London is an urban area and comparing to mixed rural and urban areas is like comparing apples and oranges. We need better spending data at a city level, so we can compare like with like.

“Second, the report overlooks that London has acute housing demand and need – accounting for nearly 70 per cent of homeless households in temporary accommodation in England. London also has the highest land prices, which is the biggest determinant of housing costs: land in the cheapest London borough costs twice as much as it does in places outside of the capital. Perhaps this is why London gets over half the affordable housing budget.

“Third, Onward’s transport methodology includes a number of choices that overstates London’s share of national public transport investment. Specifically, using a per head weighting to compare across regions does not take into account the vast numbers of commuters and visitors who place additional demand on London’s transport system every day.

“Finally, Onward overlooks the fact that many of the UK’s ‘left-behind’ communities are in London. For example, London has the highest rate of child poverty of any English region.

“The centralised nature of England within the UK means that areas are set against each other to compete for resources. This report – while raising some interesting questions – serves that competitive nature.

“London must work together with regional partners to make the case to central government for infrastructure investment and devolution in every city and region, to support good growth and help people who are struggling to get by.”