The State of Britain

Londoners are happier than they were but are still the most miserable in the UK, the importance of creative industries to the capital and the wider UK economy highlighted

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Unemployment in London increased by 17,000 to 225,000 between June and August, the uplift of 0.4% took the overall rate to 4.6%, the second highest in the UK.

The South West continued to record the lowest rate at 2.4% with the UK rate at 3.9%. The highest rate was 5.8% which was recorded in the North East.

The South West also had the highest employment rate at 81.0% which compared with 74.2% in London. UK employment was estimated at 75.9%.

London average property prices fell by 1.3% to £472,753, this took the annual decrease to 1.4% which was still the biggest drop in the UK. In comparison, UK prices grew by 0.8% to £234,853 during August, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.

The ONS’s Personal Well-being (or Happiness) Index has ranked London top out of the 12 UK ‘regions’ in terms of improved happiness since the last survey. Overall though, the Northern Irish were still the happiest in the UK with Londoners still the most miserable.


Research by the London Chamber of Commerce has indicated firms continue to have problems recruiting staff and that one in three companies are seeing increased wage demands.

More positively, the survey of more than 500 firms also found around one in five reported an increase in exports, domestic orders and sales in recent months.

Growth in London was 2.3% in the year to June 2019 according to the latest estimates from ESCoE, the best performance nationally (out of twelve UK ‘regions’)

Business investment is also up but the Chamber warned this may be as part of Brexit preparation spending, rather than the underlying strength of the economy. The Extinction Rebellion protests will also impose some economic drag on the capital’s economy.

This month the World Trade Organisation gave the US permission to impose taxes on £5.8bn of goods it imports from the EU. It is part of the US response to EU subsidies given to planemaker Airbus.

Consequently every Savile Row suit sold to the US faces a new export tax of 25%. As well as men’s woollen suits, cashmere knitwear and malt Scotch whisky are also hit.

To a degree the weak pound and the number of US visitors coming to London to shop for luxury goods should mitigate against the new tariff.

Large areas of London will be upgraded from copper cables to full fibre optics using the Tube network and public buildings. New fibre optic cabling will be laid along TfL tunnels to create a ‘fibre backbone’ across London.

The £10m of funding to subsidise the cost to providers of laying cabling will come from City Hall’s Strategic Investment Fund. The funding adds to £15.4m from London Councils for west and north London, and £8.5m for central London from the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport.

Insurance broker Aon is the latest financial firm to announce plans to move its parent company’s jurisdiction of incorporation to Dublin due to Brexit. As with many firms though, the New York-listed insurer will keep its operational headquarters in London and its reporting requirements or listings will not change.

A GLA commissioned study has revealed London’s creative industries generate spending of £40bn per year within the supply chain. The creative industries are already known to boost London’s economy by £52bn.

The Creative Supply Chains Study found that about half of the £40bn is spent in education, architectural, engineering and computing services and that 40 per cent of suppliers are located outside of London.

Employment in the creative industries is growing four times the rate of other areas of the economy; every job in London supports an additional 0.75 of a job across the supply chain. In total, 267,500 people are working in the industry in London.

The provision of affordable workspace and ensuring businesses can work together in clusters is an issue highlighted in the report. Six Creative Enterprise Zones across the capital to help create jobs, training opportunities and affordable workspace will be created.


CBI London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, the North East and North West regional directors have urged the government to build the HS2 rail project in full.

However, a paper by the Adam Smith Institute, also released this month, claims that HS2 will deliver limited benefits and that some direct trains from London to the North could go.

The Institute recommends instead, upgrading existing routes with new signalling, doubling the number of tracks, reopening mothballed lines, building new sections of railway and targeting bottlenecks at key junctions.

The Department for Transport’s independent review is rumoured to be considering shortening HS2 to end at Old Oak Common in north-west London rather than tunnelling into central London. Transport for London (TfL) believes ending the line at Old Oak Common would put huge pressure on Crossrail.

A new £25m fund for low income and disabled Londoners will also offer motorists up to £2,000 for scrapping any older, more polluting vehicle ahead of the planned expansion of the mayor’s Ultra Low Emission Zone up to the North and South Circular roads in 2021.

City Hall already runs a £23m fund for micro businesses, sole traders and charities wanting to scrap older vans.