It's awards season, and from the Oscars to the Grammys gongs are being handed out left, right and centre. It’s an opportune time, therefore, to reflect on the accolades bestowed recently on our capital city. London cleaned up last year, taking the top spot in a clutch of surveys including EY’s European Attractiveness Survey, MasterCard’s Global Destination Index and the Global Power City Index.
Think about this glittering trophy cabinet the next time you’re hailing a cab in the rain or shuffling down a crowded platform. These awards may not be televised around the world, but they matter enormously and are based on detailed and exhaustive analysis.
This week, two more reports remind us just how dynamic, successful and extraordinary the capital is. Accountancy giant Deloitte have published Global Cities, Global Talent – identifying London as the most global city in the world, based on the diversity of those working here. The city also exports the greatest number of executives to work in other countries, and this in turn generates enormous ‘soft power’ benefits as international connections are formed.
A more tangible measure of success lies in the revelation that London is now “in a league of its own” with more highly skilled people employed here than in any other global rival.
Dr Gerard Lyons, economic adviser to the mayor of London, has also released a magnum opus called London: The Global Powerhouse. The 300-page study of London’s economy and prospects calls the capital Europe’s preeminent global city and “arguably the capital of the world”. Such is its clout that if London were a country it would have the eighth largest economy in Europe.
Before you organise a street party to celebrate these triumphs, consider the cloud that clings within these silver linings: the cost of living. Estate agent Savills has this week named London as the world’s most expensive city to accommodate an employee for the third year in a row. Lyons also highlights the perilous state of London’s housing market, crippled as it is by high costs, weak supply and easy money.
It’s a major threat to London’s future success. The chief executive of housing charity Shelter warned recently that the next mayor of London must “think the unthinkable” and encourage building on the sacred green belt. He’s right. Without such drastic action, the capital’s clutch of awards could soon be gathering dust in the attic.