London outperforms UK regions in key measures

London's business birth/death gap was the highest in the UK in 2011, according to new statistics released by the ONS. The business birth rate in the capital was 14.6 per cent – increasing by 1.8 per cent year-on-year – while the death rate was 10.4 per cent – down 1.2 per cent.

The capital also outperformed in a number of other measures. Employment in London was at 70.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012 – similar to that of the fourth quarter of 2007. In the same period, London had the joint lowest unemployment rate increase in the country (along with the South West), increasing by just 1.8 percentage points to 8.4 per cent.

In a similar vein, London's share of gross value added (GVA) has been increasing steadily. In 2011, it had a 21.9 per cent share of UK GVA (up from 20.5 per cent in 2006), and the highest GVA of all regions at £286.6bn. The financial and insurance activities sector contributed most to the capital’s GVA with a 21 per cent share. Meanwhile, productivity as measured by GVA per hour worked was the highest in the UK – at 29 per cent above average.

Finally, gross disposable income per head was also the highest in England, reported at £20,500 in 2011 (up 17.4 per cent from 2006).

Although the news that London is performing well in many key areas is both encouraging and expected, it also highlights a growing disparity between the economies of different regions of the UK, which could prove contentious down the line. For example, London mayor Boris Johnson's controversial call for independent control over the capital's taxes could be given some additional steam by the data.