Confidence among businesses in London has reached its highest level for almost three years, according to new research. Latest Business Barometer of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking shows business confidence in the capital rose 17 points to 41 per cent over the last month — the highest level since September 2018.
London ranked second behind Scotland, which reported a 27-point increase to 42 per cent. Regional director for London at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, Mark Amis says: “Despite a challenging year, London’s businesses have remained resilient and their efforts are now paying dividends.” He added: “Firms have worked hard to make a success of reopening and even though restrictions have now been extended, we can see that there is still a drive to create jobs, which will play a significant role in the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.” The research shows London’s labour market is recovering from the damage inflicted on it by the pandemic. A balance of 23 per cent of businesses in the capital intend to increase staff levels over the next year, up 16 points on last month, and the highest reading of any UK region or nation.
Business confidence across the UK was stable over the month at 33 per cent in June, the same level as the previous month. Firms are more positive about their future performance, notching a small increase in their business prospects to reach 30 per cent, the highest reading since September 2020.
But, confidence in the economy edged down two points to 36 per cent, possibly caused by expectations that the lifting of the final coronavirus restrictions would be delayed. The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Working from home: After the extensive ‘working from home’ that has taken place during the pandemic, its envisaged that over 800,000 jobs can be done from outside offices post-Covid.
Greater flexibility, mobility and virtuality in the workplace could affect individuals who had previously felt compelled to live near their office - as well as the organisation they work for and the local economy. Around two out of five people living and working in inner London could continue their roles remotely after the pandemic, according to new research.
London risks losing more than 835,000 jobs as the pandemic sparks a permanent shift to more flexible working patterns, and city dwellers are able to move out of the capital to other locations across the UK or even abroad.
An analysis of ONS statistics by consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) found that 41 per cent of people living in London’s 14 inner boroughs could now do their jobs at a distance, i.e. not necessarily at their main office.
Those who work in customer service, administration, managerial roles and many civil service roles were most likely to relocate, the research found. Roles in healthcare, education and skilled trades are unlikely to be relocated from London, due to the difficulty in performing these roles from home.
If significant number of people move out of the centre of the capital, spending would shift from businesses in inner London to local businesses in other locations in the UK – and crucially, the demand for housing in the capital may reduce, the report said.
This in turn could have a knock-on effect on the London hospitality industry, as well as having an impact on transport spending, as fewer people commute in to offices in the city.
Pandemic-sparked shifts in working patterns could inadvertently support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s so-called “Levelling-Up Agenda”, the report said, as high paid workers move from central London to other regions around the UK. (The writer is our foreign correspondent based in the UK)