One of the big take-aways from Rishi Sunak’s Autumn Budget was its emphasis on uniting the United Kingdom.
There was much about greater funding for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, Levelling Up funds for towns and cities in the North, and even reduced air passenger duty for internal flights, so that we can all visit different regional airports more often and at a reduced cost.
Where then does that leave London?
Well, with the Chancellor’s acknowledgement that inflation is set to rise further from its current 3.1% in September, it will be Londoners who feel the pain most. With Capital living already expensive, any inflationary impact will tip many into a more precarious position.
Added to this is the failure to address the funding situation with Transport for London. Whilst the Budget promised billions for regional transport bodies, London’s current deal runs out in early December.
And if that weren’t enough, there was little in the Budget to truly address London’s housing shortage, which is pushing up rents and making getting on the housing ladder almost impossible.
Whilst the continued support for hospitality and retail will be welcomed across the city, it will be interesting to see how applicable the Chancellor’s proposed changes and support for business rates are in terms of London companies, not least because of their high ratings values.
There is no doubt that the 8% change to the Universal Credit taper, the increase in the National Living Wage, and the increase in public sector pay will be welcomed by many, the truth is, it will not have a major impact on living standards here in the Capital.
While Rishi has been busy trying to unite the UK, he may have inadvertently neglected the country’s powerhouse. It’s going to be a tough year for London and Londoners.