Local London has told the Government it cannot ignore widespread deprivation and poverty in East London in its ‘levelling’ up plans.
This week, Local London wrote to Robert Jenrick MP – the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – to make its case for funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – which is meant to equalise economic disparity between places.
The sub-regional partnership also published its blueprint ‘Sharing Prosperity with Local London’ which sets-out compelling and wide-ranging opportunities for growth and productivity if supported by Government with investment.
If the UK had retained its EU membership, the Local London region – made up of eight local authorities in east and southeast London – would have got £1 billion in funding to support its growth. The Government has vowed to replace EU funding with a new domestic pot called the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, but it is unclear how and who it will benefit.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Chairman of Local London and Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to replace European funding, and its ambition to “level up” poorer areas of the UK like the so-called ‘red wall’ seats in the North and Midlands, but we have been concerned for some time that Government debates and conversations about ‘levelling up’ ignore the challenges that London, and specifically East London faces.
“Many residents and businesses in this part of London have not benefited from the full advantages of living and operating in the capital city, and whilst we are working to remedy that with an ambitious levelling-up agenda of our own, funding from central government under the UKSPF is much needed and would play a huge role in unlocking our potential and enabling our goal of levelling up.
“Our blueprint ‘Sharing Prosperity with Local London’ shows we still have deprivation challenges but we also have massive potential. The density of major brownfield sites combined with tangible, large-scale opportunities put us in a great position to partner proactively with Government to overcome our challenges, unleash our potential and help underpin the national recovery.”
Founded in 2016, Local London is a collection of eight Conservative and Labour-led London councils in the North East and South East representing around 2.3 million people and 100,000 businesses. Its population is larger than Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool combined.
‘Sharing Prosperity with Local London’ has been researched and written by renowned economists from Hatch, a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm, and puts forward key reasons why this area requires investment under the UKSPF and sets out how this could be achieved by providing the sub-regional partnership with devolution opportunities. Local London wants Government to consider devolving UKSPF funding to it so that decision-making can be closer to those impacted.
Our case for investing in Local London includes:
Local London has a great strategic location and many competitive advantages. We are positioned at the confluence of several nationally important economic corridors, for example the Thames Estuary and the UK Innovation Corridor – major economic drivers of future growth. The former is a major transformative programme which will create jobs, improve productivity and deliver infrastructure in an area stretching from East London into Essex and Kent, and is expected to add £115 billion to the national economy by 2050. The latter is a corridor of knowledge-intensive activities stretching from Central London to Cambridge with huge potential to embed the UK’s position as a global leader in med-tech and agri-tech.
Investment in Local London will mean more homes and more jobs. Local London is home to the highest number of opportunity areas in London which have capacity for over 135,000 new homes and 105,000 new jobs, for example London Riverside, Greenwich Peninsula, Woolwich, Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, Ilford, Charlton Riverside, Olympic Legacy Site and the Upper Lea Valley. By unlocking and remediating land here, we will be able to increase the rate and quality of new development, helping to meet London’s environmental targets and easing housing and commercial affordability pressures which threaten London’s growth.
Local London is poised to capitalise on new post-Brexit trading relationships. Following our departure from the EU earlier this year, Local London’s proximity to three of the UK’s main deep-sea container ports means that there is a significant opportunity to develop under-used freight facilities in Barking. To realise and capitalise upon this remarkable range of unique opportunities, Local London has identified priority areas for investment including digital infrastructure, transport infrastructure, skills and employment, town centres and workspaces, and the film and cultural industries. The benefits would ripple out far beyond the borders of our boroughs to the wider regional and national economy. Our plans would catalyse growth in high value, internationally competitive sectors; increase tax take and reduce welfare spend; improve labour market opportunities by giving workers from elsewhere access to London jobs; and stimulate productivity to aid the economic recovery for decades.
Local London has motivated and engaged boroughs. Every one of our boroughs has an emerging story which demonstrates commitment to delivering change. For example, Newham has developed a Community Wealth Building Strategy, Barking and Dagenham have undertaken a Growth Commission, and Enfield have just published an ambitious Economic Development Strategy.