The London Intelligence – Issue 3


Demographic data from the last quarter show a significant drop in the number of foreign nationals coming to London. The sharpest falls in National Insurance Number Registrations has been among EU nationals and young people.

National Insurance Number Registrations

Source: Department for Work and Pensions

National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations – by people coming to London from overseas to work – continue to drop in London. There were fewer than 56,000 new registrations in the third quarter of 2017, down over 20 per cent on the same period the previous year. EU nationals saw a fall of over 25 per cent, with non-EU registrations recording a more modest 7.5 per cent fall.

Only 38 per cent of all registrations to England were in London, which is significantly lower than the peak, which was over 50 per cent in the last quarter of 2009. Registrations to London as a proportion of the whole have been falling relatively consistently since Q1 2011, as immigration has spread across the country.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions

Nearly three quarters of registrations are by young people (age 18-34), and the age profile of London arrivals reflects England as a whole. These younger categories have seen the sharpest fall in absolute terms since their peak in early 2015, whereas older categories have only experienced smaller falls. Proportionally, young person (25-34) registrations peaked (at 50 per cent of the total) across 2005, and has fallen since, while older age groups (35-44 and 45-54) have increased slightly.

The debate over London’s war for talent typically conjures the image of one firm competing with another to sign up tomorrow’s hotshot banker or computer coder. In reality, London’s businesses must battle for talent across all salary brackets and not just among themselves.

The continuing decline in National Insurance Number registrations will be of particular concern to the capital’s service industries which are powered by migrant talent. That goes for doctors caring for NHS patients just as much as London’s restaurants, whose workforce is estimated to come 75 per cent from overseas.

European Union workers are already going elsewhere even though the UK might not emerge from Brexit transition until 2021. What began as a political crisis risks becoming a human one if we do not have the people to keep the city running.

James Ashton – Business Writer and Media Consultant