The UK economy needs a thriving financial services hub to power growth and financial inclusion, writes Nicholas Lyons, the Lord Mayor of the City of London
Last year was one of great change: a year of two monarchs, and three prime ministers. There were some great historic events, such as the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. But to quote the late Queen’s words from 30 years ago, when we consider the political and economic volatility, 2022 may not be a year on which we “look back with undiluted pleasure”.
Yet I am optimistic for the City of London and the wider UK in 2023. Despite the serious economic challenges that the UK faces, we can bounce back stronger if we focus on the right priorities and make the correct decisions now.
It is an important time to emphasise the critical role which the capital has in driving the national recovery and in the government’s ambitions to “level up” all parts of the UK. It must not be forgotten that a successful London benefits other parts of the country and vice versa. I look forward to welcoming the Mayor of London and the Chair of London Councils to the London Government Dinner in the City next week to discuss the key issues facing the capital.
There is also the immediate task of making sure that financial services can support people through the cost-of-living crisis – with credit, with repayment holidays and with new products. I will convene a Financial Inclusion Summit in the City this year, with a focus on supporting those without savings and not receiving the benefits which financial services can offer.
There is also the much broader and longer-term challenge of tackling climate change by financing our net zero future.
The City of London Corporation’s journey to net zero is guided by our radical Climate Action Strategy. We aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions in our own operations by 2027 and support the achievement of net zero for the whole Square Mile by 2040.
But we are also leading the global conversation on the crucial role of finance and will be hosting the Net Zero Delivery Summit this year, with the emphasis on delivery of the promises made at Cop27.
But perhaps our greatest task this of 2023 is to lead the UK’s efforts to restore economic growth. Here there are causes for optimism. Both the government and the opposition recognise that there is no road to recovery that does not run through the City of London.
The Edinburgh package of financial services reforms are a very positive step, and the Financial Services and Market Bill offers an opportunity to deliver agile, flexible, and proportionate regulation that supports the interests of British households and businesses. The City will work with the government to ensure these reforms deliver positive outcomes and high standards.
We particularly welcome the government’s focus on sustainable finance and on innovation.
Both are crucial to our recovery, and we need to engage domestic and overseas investors in growth capital investment and create a positive ecosystem for early-stage investment. The City will launch a Growth Capital Initiative to help make the UK the destination where high growth companies can access the investment they need, at any stage of their journey, so they can grow, scale and stay here.
So let’s make a new year’s resolution for the City of London to put the UK on the road to recovery in 2023. Happy new year to you all.