Being a Londoner through and through – I have lived here for some 50 years now – nothing is closer to my heart than the success of our great capital and particularly the highly productive Square Mile at its very heart.
At University, I majored in economic history so I hope that I am qualified to discuss the importance of London’s financial district to the city’s well-being and the importance of London in general to the continued health and success of the UK’s population and its economy.
More than half of the London Stock Exchange’s top 100 companies are headquartered here and 75% of Fortune 500 businesses have offices. According to research by Deloitte, ‘’London has the most internationally diverse executive community in the world, attracting business leaders from 95 nationalities and with alumni working in 134 countries.’’ More dollars are traded here than in New York and more euros than every other European city combined. London is the epicentre for international bank lending, money markets and international debt securities.
London is the most visited city in the world by international tourists – almost 19m in 2015. Last year it was reported to have the highest non-food retail sales of any city in the world. It generates c.22% of the UK’s GDP and almost 900,000 private sector businesses are based here. It is hard to argue against the fact that the global hegemony of the City of London is the major driver of the UK’s economy. The capital produces a quarter of the country’s wealth and pays a third of its taxes. A July report from the Centre for Cities in 2014-15 found that London generated almost as much tax as the next 37 largest British cities combined, a dominance that has risen five percentage points in the past decade.
Property taxes, and the continued efforts to have them repealed or revisited, are one thing – but let’s not lose focus. If London declines everyone will lose. Like them or loathe them, the banks have made an enormous contribution to London and the UK over the past 200 years. There has been the odd ‘slip-up’ – but that is the result of the global economy failing to adjust to the new modus operandi.
There is a lot wrong with the global economy – but we in the UK have a lot to be proud of. Let’s not be afraid of staying great.