London and the UK

During this project Centre for London developed new thinking on how London can connect with the rest of the country.

Read the report

London: a help or hindrance to the UK?

London has long played an outsized role in the economic, political and cultural life of the UK. But over the last few decades London’s dominance of the UK’s economy has become particularly pronounced. Critics complain that its magnetic power sucks talent and investment away from other UK cities, making it hard for them to thrive.

Of course the Mayor, the City of London Corporation and London business groups have often made the case for London’s contribution to the UK as a whole. But argument isn’t resonating with those outside the city. Only 24 per cent of Britons outside the capital think it has a positive effect on their local economy – the figures falls to less than 10 per cent in Liverpool, Hull and Sheffield.[1]

Research scope

This project looked at how London’s relations to the rest of the country have changed in recent years; how London has positioned itself in the past; how it is perceived; and what the capital could do to address national misgivings.

It explored opportunities for closer working between London and other cities. We looked at how the Mayor and other London institutions – including its great cultural and educational institutions and its visitor attractions – can support, showcase and engage with the rest of the country.

The project also explored deeper questions about what London should be doing to spread prosperity as widely as possible to other cities and regions. How can the capital support the strategies – The Northern Powerhouse, the Industrial Strategy, metro mayors – to help regional renaissance and rebalancing?

This project did not involve new ‘hard’ quantitative analysis or economic modelling. There is already been lots of research on strategies for tackling regional disparities. This project investigated social and cultural perceptions of London and Londoners amongst the general public, as well as gathering the views of leaders across the UK in a variety of different spheres (such as local government, business, culture). Through this, we suggested ways in which London can better work with the rest of the UK, to the mutual benefit of both.

The research itself included:

  • Gathering background information on relations between capital cities and regions in other countries;
  • Interviews and polling to understand better how London and Londoners are perceived by the rest of the country;
  • A series of roundtables with leaders from around the UK to discuss positive measures that could improve relations and help boost the country as a whole.

The final report, London, UK, was published on February 5, 2019.

[1] Wilcox Z., Nohrova N., Bidgood E. (2014). City views: How do Britain’s Cities see London. Centre for Cities and Centre for London.

Supporting Sponsors

This project has been generously supported by