The UK’s financial services sector will be irreversibly damaged if the West End does not have a strong recovery and Frankfurt is left to scoop up City of London jobs, according to Sadiq Khan.
Khan today called out the government for not providing targeted funding for central London, which has been adversely affected by Covid-19, as he pledged a new £32m skills and training programme if he is re-elected on 6 May.
Greater London has been adversely affected by Covid-19, with the capital’s unemployment rate now two per cent higher than the national rate.
This has been particularly felt in central London, with Covid restrictions leading to a sustained drop in footfall and an almost complete halt to much of the capital’s theatre sector.
The mayor said at a campaign event that central London’s arts and culture industries were vital to the success of other sectors, particularly in the City of London.
“If you want a national recovery, you must have a London recovery – by not investing in London you’re doing damage to the national economy,” he said.
“The good news is that so far we’ve not seen big jobs [from the City of London] leaving our city [post-Brexit], the reason I’m so keen to have a good recovery in central London is because I know when I speak to the City, one the reasons they chose London over Frankfurt, Madrid, Brussels is because of our ecosystem – culture, theatre, museums, libraries.
“That’s why I’m really keen to make sure we have a rapid recovery in central London.”
Today’s funding, which is being called a “Good Work Fund”, would come from a £544m package that is being used to help the capital bounce back from the economic effects of Covid-19.
It would see four academies opened in across London to “help coordinate skills, careers and job-related support so there is no wrong door for Londoners seeking employment assistance”.
Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said the mayor had “had plenty of opportunity to focus on jobs” in the past five years.
“But despite a £70m jobs fund, he created only 109 jobs,” Bailey said.
“As we recover from the pandemic, it’s vital we help Londoners into work and help businesses create jobs.
“As mayor, I’ll reverse the congestion charge hike, which is damaging small businesses. And I’ll fast-track job training schemes.”