Should London be independent?
A debate is raging about whether London should be separated from the rest of the country. Clarendon weighs up the pros and cons.
Is London really out of kilter with the rest of the UK? While the rest of the country struggles to see the back of the recession, London is bouncing back. It attracts major investment and is home to Europe’s principal financial capital. The truth is London isn’t the same as the rest of the UK.
Property is often the starting point for any conversation about how London stands alone. Property prices have risen by over 15% since the start of the financial crisis. Much of the property rise is linked to its status as a financial hub. International wealth flocks to London, increasing prices and status. That wealth ensured that London didn’t have a recession for as long as the rest of the country. Its economy grew by nearly 12.5% between 2007 and 2011, twice as fast as the rest of the UK.
People in London give more back to the national economy. The Office of National Statistics claims the average Londoner contributes 70% more to Britain’s national income than people in the rest of the country, around £16,000 each a year.
Perhaps it would be better for London to separate from the rest of the UK. Yet it’s true that travellers from around Britain travel to the capital and benefit from its financial status. Travel times and networks are less than across the north of England for example. HS2 will only improve that.
Yet all the wealth in London doesn’t stop it being one of the most expensive places to live on earth. The reason Londoners contribute so much more to the UK economy is because their rates and bills are much higher than anywhere else. Property prices means the average Londoner is unlikely to be able to afford a property until they are well into their 40s or 50s.
As a serviced apartment provider in London for over 25 years, Clarendon has seen the prosperity in the City and a number of business travellers flocking to the Capital in search of serviced apartments in Canary Wharf, the City, the West End and South West London close to where they work. From Clarendon’s point of view, London is unique from the rest of the country and is a separate state on its own and this is demonstrated by how quick it bounced back after the recession, whilst other areas are still suffering.
Yet that status doesn’t mean a moat should be built around the capital to separate it from the rest of the country. Business travellers don’t just come from Europe but from around the country and serviced apartment providers like Clarendon make it easier for them to benefit from London’s powerhouse status and make some much needed money. London should be recognised for the unique status it has within the rest of the UK but it should always be easy for its wealth and success to be spread around the country, especially if it means encourages businesses to come and stay in the capital more often.