What next for the capital post-pandemic?

By Michael Burton | 20 January 2021

Travelling into London’s centre last summer and autumn, even before the second lockdown, was described as like visiting the capital at 8am on a Sunday morning; the underground quiet, the streets deserted, cafés and restaurants shut. The collapse in tourism added further to the hollowing out of one of the world’s busiest cities. What happens to London is important to the rest of the UK as the capital’s taxes subsidise many areas of the country.

One inner London chief executive told The MJ/BT round table how office occupancy rate in parts of her borough at one point hit just 6%, while the beleagurered tourism economy was usually worth £11bn. Many businesses ‘were on their knees.’ Another chief from an outer London borough said that 22% of local jobs were on furlough, while unemployment was 5%. He added: ‘We have an over reliance on retail which makes up 38% of jobs, and then 38% of jobs which are part-time. People affected mostly by this recession will be young people, women, those with disabilities, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.’ Although there were signs of recovery, he did not expect London to return to pre-crisis levels for three years, commenting ‘there are choppy waters ahead.’

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