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By now, many people will have seen the episode of Gogglebox in which people around the country reacted to Evan Davis’ Mind the Gap: London v the rest programme on BBC2. The overall reaction: yawns. My previous post highlights some of the viewers’ responses. But, that doesn’t mean people don’t know or don’t care about London or how it affects them. In fact, a lot of people have quite strong feelings about how London seems to be going at a different speed than the rest of the country.
Today, we published City views: how do Britain’s cities see London? in partnership with Centre for London and sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group which shows just how people really feel about London, for all its strengths and challenges.
The report showcases a new survey, commissioned to understand how people think London affects their city and the national economy. It also gauges the effect of political power being held in London, and even how people see quality of life in the capital.
So, what do the results tell us? First, people are conflicted as to the benefits the London economy provides. Most people acknowledge that London is good for the economy overall, with almost two thirds (66 per cent) of UK adults outside of London believing the capital has a positive impact.
However, we see a different story when the focus is shifted to the benefits of London for their local economy, with only 24 per cent of national respondents (excluding London) believing the capital has a positive impact. In some Northern cities, this fell to less than 1 in 10 (for example Hull 8 per cent, Sheffield 8 per cent and Liverpool 9 per cent).
Get closer to London, and city dwellers are more positive about the impact London has, with respondents in Brighton, Southend and Milton Keynes more likely to say London has a very or fairly positive effect on their city’s economy (66, 61 and 57 per cent respectively).
Nevertheless, the survey results suggest that, while London accounts for more than half of economic growth between 2010 and 2012, most people do not feel like they, and their place, have benefitted from it.
This may seem like common sense. After all, why should growth in London affect people in Manchester or Leeds? If you can’t see The Shard, then why should you benefit from it? In fact, many people may feel like they’re living in London’s long-cast shadow, with the strength of the London economy essentially sucking talent and investment away from other places.
While a lot of money and political energy has been spent on attempting to ‘rebalance’ the national economy, London remains the dominant economic force in the UK, and home to major public investments to support further growth.
This picture has big implications for each of the main political parties, as they craft their policies ahead of the next General Election. Labour may be campaigning for a “one nation economy”, while the Coalition parties have long made the case that when it comes to deficit reduction and growth, we are “all in this together”.
But it seems that they all have much work to do, as, most people remain suspicious of the idea that what is good for growth in London is good for them and their city.
City Survey: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,688 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 19th March 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in each city surveyed (aged 18+). These were Newcastle, Kingston-Upon-Hull, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Brighton and Hove, Leicester, Southampton, Southend, and Milton Keynes.
National Survey: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,478 adults, of which 2209 were from outside of London. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 12th March 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Senior Consultant, City Economics at Arup
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