Driving inclusive and sustainable growth in central London – Central London Forward Strategy 2022-24
Central London Forward is the sub-regional partnership of the 12 central London local authorities. We exist to support inclusive and sustainable growth in central London – so that our economy thrives, and our residents benefit from the opportunities that this creates.
Today, we launch our strategy for the next two years.
Our focus is on inclusive growth because the success of our capital does not inevitably benefit all of our residents. Central London’s economy thrived in the years preceding the pandemic. But too many of our residents did not share in the success of their city. On the eve of the pandemic, London was the wealthiest part of the UK, but the most unequal, with the highest levels of poverty and child poverty of any region. In addition to narrowing the inequalities between regions, we need to address the stark inequalities that exist within regions; we need to level-up in London too.
Our focus is on sustainable growth because – while we face a series of immediate crises – the climate emergency is the greatest challenge that we face. Reducing emissions and greening our economy is not just an ecological and moral necessity though, it is a huge opportunity too. Recent Central London Forward research found that there were already almost 150,000 green jobs in central London in 2020, and that the number is set to double this decade, and double again by the middle of the century, creating opportunities for Londoners and driving future growth.
Our strategy sets out four priorities for Central London Forward:
First, we will work with our member authorities to ensure our people have the skills and the employment support they need to access decent, well paid work.
London boroughs play a vital role in helping people access decent work. Every one of our 12 member authorities has a local employment service, and last year alone they invested £21m to support 22,000 residents. Central London Forward manages large scale employment and skills programmes across the sub-region, and last year we supported almost 9,000 residents into work.
We will work with our member authorities to deliver high quality employment support. We will focus on supporting residents into decent work – including jobs paying at least the London Living Wage – and we will explore how we can support people to progress in work. We will seek to ensure our skills system meets the needs of residents and of businesses in the capital, and we will make the case for further devolution of employment and skills services, so that we can build an integrated and effective system.
Second, our ‘place’ priority aims to ensure central London’s economy continues to thrive. The capital has been a engine of growth for the UK in recent decades, but this cannot be taken for granted.
We will make the case for investment in the infrastructure we need to drive growth, unlock housing, and transition to net zero. We will work with our member authorities to develop an action plan focused on the recovery and evolution of London’s central activities zone, which plays such a vital role in providing employment opportunities for Londoners. And we will map the current and emerging growth sectors across central London, working with member authorities to help drive growth in the crucial sectors for London’s future.
Third, our ‘net zero’ priority sets out how we will work with our member authorities to address the climate emergency.
Every one of our member authorities has an ambitious net zero target. We will bring together officers leading on net zero across our member authorities, to help support cross-borough collaboration and shared learning. We will track the growth of green jobs across central London, identifying emerging skills gaps that could impede the transition to a sustainable economy. And we will make the case to government for the changes we need to see in order to deliver on our net zero commitments locally.
Fourth, our ‘resources’ priority aims to ensure our member authorities have the sustainable funding they need. Local authorities have seen huge funding cuts in recent years, with London boroughs seeing the largest declines.
We will engage with government around the review of local authority funding, ensuring that allocations reflect both the level of need in central London, and reliable population figures. We will make the case for continued investment in employment and skills support, and we will explore the potential for fiscal devolution, so that London local government can raise the funding it needs to support local communities and drive growth.
We are hugely grateful for the input from our member authorities in shaping our strategy. And we look forward to working alongside you to deliver it.
Joe Dromey is Director of Central London Forward – 29.9.22