27 Jan 2014

London calling – and creating 80 per cent of new jobs

A third of 22 to 30-year-olds who leave home move to London. But with the capital creating 80 per cent of private sector jobs, who can blame them? Channel 4 News hears from young people on the move.

It is no surprise that the capital is booming. But an annual report on Britain’s cities published on Monday shows the extent of the gap in economic recovery between London and other UK cities.

The capital created ten times more private sector jobs than the second fastest growing city, Edinburgh. But 66,000 public sector jobs were also created in the capital. For every public sector job created in the capital, another two were lost in other cities.

The report from the think tank Centre for Cities highlights the fact that the economic recovery is limited at a national level, with people living in cities such as Bradford, Blackpool and Glasgow seeing widespread job losses.

Will I stay? I’d like to. But at the moment I’m paying £750 a month in rent… and there’s not a hope in hell of me ever being able to afford to buy here – Alistair Brown, 27

And young people appear to be following the jobs. The report, which draws on data from the ONS, found that 18 to 21-year-olds are the most likely to move between cities.

But for those aged 22 to 30 (many of whom will be graduates), a third of those who leave home move to London, and make up the biggest group of those migrating to the capital. “There was a net inflow of 48,400 22 to 30-year-olds – enough people to fill Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium – from large cities into London,” the report reads.

The report raises the question of why other cities are not offering enough opportunities for people to stay put – and how that can change.

Southern climes

Another revealing finding is that those coming to London do not go back home or necessarily stay in the capital: instead, they tend to move further south and to the home counties when they have children.

Over 60 per cent move to the south east, with towns like Brighton and Crawley absorbing the move from the capital – presumably because they are in commutable distance to London.

Centre for Cities says that the UK is far more centralised compared to its OECD counterparts, where economic growth is more evenly spread across a number of cities. In the UK, local government raised 17 per cent of income from local taxes, compared to an average of 55 per cent for other OECD countries.

The think tank called for all UK cities to be given more power to raise their own funds, so they can start to invest in more regional opportunities. Alexandra Jones, Centre for Cities chief executive, said: “Devolving more funding and powers to UK cities – London and others – so they can generate more of their own income and play to their different strengths will be critical to ensuring this is a sustainable, job-rich recovery.”

The report addresses the perception that London’s success is a threat to other British cities. Centre for Cities says that trying to limit London’s growth, in an attempt to redress the balance, would do more harm than good.

It says that businesses whose headquarters are in London are also the most prominent businesses elsewhere. As the report puts it: “London is the biggest employer in other British cities”.

Should I stay or should I go? Here’s what you said about leaving home for London:

Alistair Brown, 27, from Edinburgh: I’m a policy advisor, for an energy company, but the job was only part of the reason that I ended up here. It was also because I wanted to live in London. There’s nowhere else like it. It has an amazing cultural scene and a buzz about it that is a massive attraction when you’re young … I definitely see whole social groups decamping to London over a period of months – partly for the work, partly because it’s an amazing place to be young, and partly as a way of sticking together.

Will I stay? I’d like to. But at the moment I’m paying £750 a month in rent to a dodgy landlord via an incompetent letting agent, and there’s not a hope in hell of me ever being able to afford to buy here. I see a lot of people getting help from the bank of Mum and Dad. If you haven’t got that, then I think you’re most likely to be forced out in the end.

Alan Stratford, 25, from Tonbridge Kent: I moved to London to work in the theatre industry. There are jobs out there but all of them are well below the London living wage. Some days I’m working three different jobs a day. I work six out of seven evenings a week and regularly over 50 hours a week.
I really want to stay in London. I can just about to afford to at the moment, but it all depends if I can get enough work to last me through the summer slowdown.

Shanine Salmon, from Southampton: I was open to staying in Southampton but I’ve stayed in London because the jobs in Archives and Records Management are here, though I have applied for jobs in Cambridge, Oxford and York.

I now work for King’s College London as a Records Assistant after working in their archives then moving to the Church of England before returning to KCL again.
There is nothing at my level (not yet qualified but experienced in my field) in Southampton. Plus if I moved back home I would cause problems for my mother. Due to bedroom tax she now lives in a one bedroom flat and my living there would affect her housing benefit entitlement!

Danny Palmer, 27, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: I made the move to London in March 2009 when I was 22, but lasted less than a year that time around.

I found my current job as a journalist in summer 2012, and now live in London where renting does cost a fortune (£589pm plus bills), but I do at least live within an hour’s walk from work. However, if I lost this job I’d have to probably leave and go back to my parents again, despite being 27-years-old, as the cost of living in London is just far too expensive! I have to be here for work, but I know the cost of rent and so forth isn’t doing me many favours in the long term.

Ben Darby, 26, from Churchdown, Gloucestershire: I moved to London in 2007 when I attended university and I work in Public Relations as a PR Manager for a technology company. I’ve had three jobs in London since then, met my wife and we’re expecting a child. It’s safe to say I won’t be returning!