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Britain’s capital is still in lockdown – and so is its economy, with the highest unemployment rates in the UK. A new report, the “London 1000”, has revealed how over 1000 London business leaders are weathering the impact of the pandemic and what their plans are for recovery.

The report, by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, London councils and YouGov, shows just how much London’s labour market and confidence in London’s economy have suffered, with apprentices being particularly hard-hit.

It also reveals an increased focus on professional and digital skills driven by remote working – which almost half of the 1000 leaders expect to continue throughout 2021. Homeworking has also become the main carbon-cutting measure for many businesses, suggesting that hybrid working is here to stay.

The Main Findings Include:

  • Half of London’s business leaders say cash flow is the main threat to post-COVID recovery.
  • They see local council grants, VAT relief, continuing workforce support, and extending the business rates holiday as the best ways to support businesses through recovery.
  • 84% have less confidence in London’s economy and 86% have less confidence in the UK economy than they did a year ago.
  • 44% recruited or tried to in 2020; 41% (77% in large companies) plan to recruit in 2021.
  • 63% say staff retention has remained the same during COVID, but 31% say it’s dropped.
  • When it comes to upskilling their workers, digital skills are the top priority.
  • Only 24% have no employees working remotely, down from 51% in 2019.
  • Nearly half (46%) expect more than two-fifths of their employees to still be working from home regularly in a year, while 32% say all staff will be back at work by then.
  • Just 8% still employ apprentices.
  • 78% are taking action to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • Encouraging remote working is the most popular way of doing this.

The main focus of recruitment has shifted from skilled manual and technical staff to professional and managerial staff, perhaps reflecting the greater resilience of the professional and financial services sectors. Recruitment overall has fallen, with initiatives like the apprenticeship levy failing to reverse the trend.

Business leaders are keen to do their part for the environment but also demand that the government and councils play theirs, citing financial incentives like grants and fiscal levers as an important factor that would help them cut carbon further.

Similarly, when it comes to financial recovery, London’s business leaders agree that government commitments to extend VAT and business rates relief would be key to helping the capital’s economy bounce back.

Posted by: Morgan Spencer