Press Release

Essayists Explore Changes to London’s Experience of Work

A new collection of essays, released today by Centre for London, captures some of the rapid changes taking place in London’s job market and describes how London’s workers are responding.

Read the essays

The essays, written by a variety of authors from trade unionists to researchers and architects, include contributions from Anthony Painter, Director of the Action and Research Centre, David Hills, Architect and Partner at Purcell, and Kathryn Nawrockyi, Gender Equality Director at Business in the Community.

The 11 essays highlight that London’s labour market is undergoing rapid change, and that technology and a turbulent political world are driving these changes. The contributors highlight:

  • Antonia Bance says that in the past 5 years there has been an increase of those in precarious work of 133,000 to 650,000, including seasonal, casual or temporary work as well as those on zero-hour contracts and low paid self-employed workers.

  • Mark Trent states that London’s gig economy has increased by 70% since 2010 and the number of workers on zero hour contracts is close to a million.

  • Julia Bennett highlights how the craft industry in London has become increasingly marginalised illustrated by the fact that 50% of craft related higher education courses have closed since 2007/08.

But the essays also propose a series of responses to deal with these challenges. Some contributors suggest policies which the government and businesses could implement to deal with the pace of change:

  • Anthony Painter explores the possibility of Universal Basic Income in London, a fixed sum payable to all citizens regardless of need, as a solution to the changes to the jobs available and to the way people work.

  • Peter Cheese and David D’Souza encourage greater diversity in recruitment through the use of name-blind technologies, because although 37% of Londoners were born outside the UK, ethnic minorities tend to be under-employed.

  • Ryan Avent proposes that profits from the wealthiest be redistributed to those whose wages are flatlining or are increasingly being made redundant by technology.

Ben Rogers, Director of Centre for London, said:

“Work has a fundamental impact on almost every aspect of our lives.  But the way we work and the rewards for work are being transformed.  This collection of essays explores the changing face of labour in London and the future London as a working city.”

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Gender Equality Director at Business in the Community, said:

“London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and yet public discourse about women’s equality tend to focus on the experiences of just a few – typically white, middle-class women working in corporate roles. But women are not a homogenous group, often we experience barriers to equality that result from the combination of multiple aspects of our identity.

“We are campaigning, through our Same But Different project, to put the voices of all women front and centre of this discourse, and to ensure that intersectionality is a key factor in policy making.”

Anthony Painter, Leader of the Action and Research Centre at the RSA, said:

“The most disappointing aspect of devolution to London has been the slowness with which social innovation has taken place across the city. With Ontario in Canada starting a Universal Basic Income pilot, Finland the same, and Glasgow and Fife considering it in the UK, could London follow suit? We have a city that combines tremendous wealth with poverty and insecurity.  The need for innovation and imagination in social and economic policy has never been more acute.”

Notes to editors

The full list of contributors include:

  • Ryan Avent, News Editor, The Economist

  • Antonia Bance, Head of Campaigns and Communications, TUC

  • Geraldine Bedell, Editor, London Essays

  • Torsten Bell, Director, Resolution Foundation

  • Julia Bennett, Head of Research and Policy, Crafts Council

  • Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD

  • Louise Chunn, Founder,

  • David D’Souza, Head of London, CIPD

  • David Hills, Architect and Partner, Purcell

  • Charles Leadbeater, Self-Employed Writer and Advisor

  • Kathryn Nawrockyi, Gender Equality Director, Business in the Community

  • Anthony Painter, Director, Action and Research Centre

  • Ben Rogers, Director, Centre for London

  • Leonora Saunders, Photographer

  • Mark Trent, Graduate and Deliveroo Driver

The publication was generously supported by Capital & Counties Property PLC.

About Centre for London
Centre for London is an independent think tank and charity which finds new solutions to the capital’s challenges. We publish research. We hold events. We collaborate and influence. We work across economic, environmental and social issues, and develop rigorous research and bold, long-term solutions.

About Capital & Counties Property PLC

Capital & Counties Properties PLC (Capco) is one of the largest listed investment and development property companies in central London. Capco owns two landmark London estates – Covent Garden and Earls Court – and as a significant investor in the capital drives long-term value through a strategic and distinctive approach to placemaking.