The City of London’s local authority has called for a mass return of office workers to the Square Mile now Covid restrictions have almost entirely been lifted, saying that “the economic bounce back has to start now”.
Chris Hayward, the City of London Corporation’s deputy policy and resources chair, said the Square Mile had to “lead by example” to get central London’s economy moving again.
The latest figures from the Centre for Cities think tank show that footfall in central London over the past week is still only around 34 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The think tank also found that the amount of central London workers coming to the office in the past week is only at around 15 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
NatWest chair Howard Davies told Bloomberg this week that pre-pandemic office life in the City of London will never come back and that flexible working is here to stay.
NatWest is one of many financial institutions that are allowing workers to split their working hours between the office and home even as restrictions are binned.
Hayward told the Corporation’s first in-person meeting in 18 months that the local authority needed to encourage a greater return to the Square Mile, but also had to be flexible.
“The government has been clear that we must return to our places of work. The economic bounce back has to start now and we, in the City, must lead by example,” he said.
“We must be guided by our vision of a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.
“Over the centuries we have continually re-invented ourselves by our flexibility in responding to the changing needs of business. Today more than ever we need to renew those fundamental strengths proving to the world that once again we are the resilient City of London.”
The City of London Corporation has put together a concerted push to get people back into the Square Mile, which will include a number of promotional events.
This goes alongside Sadiq Khan’s Welcome Back London campaign, which is encouraging people to get back on the Tube.