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London in danger of losing its competitive edge

From The Publican


London's high cost of living, congested roads and poor public transport are dulling the capital's business edge, a new survey has revealed.

Research commissioned by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and accountants KPMG found that six out of 10 business leaders in London feared the city's competitiveness was under threat, twice the number of a year ago.

The poll of 118 senior executives found those believing the capital's competitiveness was improving was a meagre one in 12, down from one in three a year ago.

The newly introduced £30,000 non-dom fee, plus the cack-handed way foreign nationals reform had been implemented, had "tarnished the UK's reputation".

Transport investment remained a key issue for executives. More than two thirds said London's roads were more congested than a year ago, despite the congestion charge introduced by mayor Boris Johnson's predecessor, Ken Livingstone, which currently stands at £8 a day.

While business crime was not cited as a concern, Johnson should be looking to make the capital a safer place to live and work, the poll found.

The research also highlighted a skill shortage, with nearly three quarters of executives complaining they are unable to fill some skilled vacancies - although those expecting the problem to remain by the end of the year is lower than a year ago, thanks in part to the new migrant points system.

Nearly all the poll's respondents found London to be a more expensive place to operate than other major cities such as New York, Tokyo or Paris.

Richard Reid, chairman of KPMG London LLP, said: "This report clearly shows that businesses in London are feeling the impact of the downturn in the economy.

"Many of its findings should be setting off alarm bells for policy-makers that urgent action is needed to tackle the weaknesses that will compromise London's reputation and competitiveness.

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