‘We need levelling up within regions as well as between them’

  • By JackGraves

London Councils has responded to a report from the think-tank Onward on the government’s 'levelling up' policy programme.

The cross-party group, which represents all 33 local authorities in the capital, rejects the suggestion that funding is ‘skewed’ towards London and points to the city’s high levels of deprivation and need.

Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:

“Ambitions to level up the country mustn’t descend into a crude ‘level London down’ agenda.

“This report fails to acknowledge London’s growing challenges in tackling homelessness and poverty. We’re facing the most severe homelessness crisis in the country – accounting for two-thirds of all homelessness in England – and London also has the highest rates of relative poverty.

“It’s simplistic and misleading to portray London as a city of abundant wealth when it’s home to so much deprivation.

“We want to see levelling up within regions as well as between them. It’s crucial to reduce inequality and promote prosperity everywhere – and making Londoners poorer does nothing to achieve this.”

London generates a quarter of the UK’s total economic output and makes a net contribution to the Exchequer of over £30 billion.

However, the capital also has among the highest levels of deprivation and need according to a range of measures.

There are 57,000 London households living in temporary accommodation, including 88,000 children. More than half (56%) of London’s homeless households are in work. A recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that London has the highest rates of in-work and pensioner poverty.

London Councils has also noted recent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing that overall spending per head in London is lower than Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and broadly similar to the North East of England, while Londoners’ tax contribution is the highest per head.