NEWS6 February 2019

London viewed as inaccessible by rest of UK

News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – Living and working in London is not seen as a realistic option by the rest of the UK, according to a report from thinktank Centre for London.

Seventy-eight per cent of non-Londoners surveyed for the report, London, UK: Strengthening the ties between capital and country, said they felt that living and working in London was not an option for them – over half ( 53%) of respondents said it was not realistic at all.

Only 16% of non-Londoners feel that the capital contributes a lot or a fair amount to the economy of their city, town or area, with 68% saying it contributes not very much or nothing at all to their local economy.

However, three-quarters ( 77%) of non-Londoners agree that the city contributes a lot or a fair amount to the UK economy as a whole.

Over half ( 56%) of non-Londoners say they are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ proud of London, compared to 80% of Londoners, while 28% of non-Londoners say they are not proud of the city. 

Non-Londoners primarily regard the capital as ‘the home of Parliament and the UK’s central government’ ( 22% of respondents), and also viewed as ‘a centre of culture’ ( 14%), ‘a capital city and an international symbol of the best of British’ ( 13%) and ‘a centre of business and finance’ ( 11%). Londoners, meanwhile, primarily view London as the UK’s capital ( 19%), and as a home to Londoners ( 18%).

For non-Londoners who visit the city once a year or more, ‘centre of culture’ comes first ( 20%), followed by its role as the UK capital ( 18%), and its home to national government ( 17%).

London is viewed as ‘expensive’ ( 47%) and crowded ( 43%) by those outside of the capital, with people who rarely or never visit noticeably more likely to describe it negatively than those who visit once a year or more.

When it comes to perceptions of Londoners themselves, the top word used amongst non-Londoners was ‘diverse’ ( 41%) followed by ‘arrogant’ ( 29%). While Londoners describe themselves as ‘liberal’ (their third most popular word, chosen by 21% of London respondents), the word barely registered for those outside of London ( 9%).

Among the recommendations set out in the report by the Centre for London were:

  • The government should devolve more power to the UK’s towns, cities and regions
  • The government should invest more in infrastructure across the UK and devolve more funding and decision-making
  • Better city-level data and measures are needed to represent the strength of regional economies and explain London’s relationship with the rest of the country
  • Civil servants should undertake temporary ‘job swaps’ beyond Westminster with local government officials, including London boroughs
  • The mayor of London should launch a ‘London is Open’-style campaign, titled ‘London is Yours’, focused on London’s role as England and the UK’s capital.

The figures quoted refer to polling conducted for the Centre for London report by the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London and YouGov. The online survey was carried out between 3rd-6th September 2018 with 1,218 adults in London and 1,883 British adults outside London.