London on a mission to ensure a green and just recovery

1 December 2020

The original epicentre of Covid-19 in the UK, London is now trying to navigate through the ongoing crisis. The Bank of England forecasts a drawn-out recession in the capital, with sectors such as entertainment, the arts and accommodation feeling the effects well into 2021.

But while dealing with the short-term emergency, the city’s government also has an eye on the future. It’s preparing an economic recovery plan based on the challenges and opportunities facing Londoners in a post-pandemic world.

Speaking at the Eurocities City Dialogue on the economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis, Catherine Glossop, Senior Manager of economic strategy, innovation and industrial policy at the Greater London Authority (GLA), unveiled London’s mission-based approach with nine key focus areas.

Restoring confidence in the city and “building back better” are the grand challenges of the recovery, and the co-designed missions address these challenges in a diverse and cross-cutting way. A focus on delivering enhanced public spaces and local high streets goes hand-in-hand with financially supporting local communities, providing employment opportunities for Londoners and reducing inequality.

Notable in the plan is the desire for a Green New Deal for London. As in the case in many cities, the sudden shock of the pandemic and changing of ingrained behaviours led to more sustainable practices by Londoners, such as an increase in active travel. “We’re trying to create a legacy from the positive things to come from the pandemic,” says Glossop.

For younger inhabitants of the city, the situation is perilous: The city has seen a 240% increase in the claimant rate of social welfare. The recovery plan will therefore focus on youth unemployment, providing mentors and services to those who need it.

Another aspect of the recovery focuses on the so-called Central Activites Zone (CAZ), better known to visitors as the city’s bustling, economy-driving centre and the Northern Isle of Dogs (NIoD) area – also called Canary Wharf. These areas are shadows of their former selves as teleworking became the rule during the pandemic.

That’s why the plan includes research to be carried out on the long term impacts of the crisis on these two areas with the goal of understanding how the economic dynamic has changed and how London can adapt.

The aim of the mission based approach is to sharpen the focus on key areas where collaboration across London can really shift the dial. While the missions have been triggered by the onset of the pandemic, some of the investment programmes have long been in the pipeline, but were brought forward as the pandemic hit to stimulate economic activity.

With the Covid-19 crisis far from over and the prospect of Brexit around the corner, London is looking to make sure it protects its inhabitants from shocks from all sides. In the process, the city is looking to create a greener, more equal place for all.

London’s full economy recovery programme can be found here