Confidence rising … but concern about cashflow

Thomas Wagemaakers

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in partnership with leading polling agency ComRes have released the Capital 500 Quarterly Economic Survey for the first quarter of this year. The survey, taken before the triggering of Article 50 and the announcement of the June election, found that although businesses reported an increase in confidence and outlook for the year ahead there was also concern about cashflow as well as finding sufficiently skilled candidates to fill vacancies.

LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge said: “There are many signs of improvement; however, not all indicators are upbeat.

“We need to ensure that London is well equipped to meet the challenges of Brexit and a population that is set to meet 10 million by 2030.

“Above all, alongside efforts to support balanced growth across the UK, a new industrial strategy must recognise the role that London currently has and will continue to play as the engine of the UK economy.”

“We need to ensure that London is well equipped to meet the challenges of Brexit and a population that is set to meet 10 million by 2030” – Colin Stanbridge

Growth

Centre of Economics & Business Research (CEBR) Economist Vicky Pryce added: “The improved confidence in the economic outlook in the survey chimes with higher growth forecasts for 2017 as a whole by the Office for Budget Responsibility, Bank of England, OECD and IMF.

“But there is a question as to whether the growth momentum we saw in 2016 will be sustained through 2017

“Caution ahead is probably what we will see, particularly from the smaller firms which seem hardest hit and the most pessimistic in this survey.”

Boost

LCCI makes four key recommendations following the latest survey to help the Mayor and the government ensure London businesses can feel confident and boost productivity during the negotiation period:

  • The government’s finalised industrial strategy should contain a recognition of London as a key engine of the national economy with its extensive procurement and supply chain across the UK. Efforts to generate balanced growth across the UK should not come at the expense of the capital; London strategic infrastructure projects should not face unnecessary delay.
  • The Mayor of London should champion a single-issue London Work Visa granting indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK to existing EU national employees – providing reassurance to current employees and their employers.
  • While welcome, the discretionary relief announced at the Budget will only be beneficial if it reaches the businesses most affected by the business rates revaluation. Government should look to ensure transparency on where, when and how much relief has been allocated in local authority areas across the capital.
  • A revised business case for the Crossrail 2 project is currently before the Department for Transport for consideration. The government should move to ensure that accommodation is made within Parliamentary timetabling for a hybrid bill before 2019.

Thomas Waagemakers is senior policy research researcher at LCCI

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