Dr Laura Davison, Head of Research
Compiling our annual Research Review gives us the opportunity to look back over the previous year’s commissioned research, and reflect on our priorities for the year ahead. Our programme has a very wide remit, spanning local, national, and international economies. This was reflected in 2015’s topics, which ranged from poverty and healthcare in London, through to the ways in which EU financial services support the wider economy, and global currency usage.
A key on-going theme for us is how to ensure that London continues to function effectively as a world-leading business and financial centre over the long term. This includes looking at the physical and social infrastructure that enables the City to operate as the densest concentration of business and employees in London, with a workday population of 415,000 within one square mile - equivalent to bringing in all of the residents of Brighton and Oxford every workday. Nearly a third of our workforce travels from outside of London, meaning that developments that bring new connections and capacity are critical, for example Crossrail, bringing in 1.5million more people within a 45 minute commute of central London.
It is also crucial to understand how the world of work in the City is changing. In 2015, we worked with the largest companies in the City – who while small in number (225 firms), account for around half of the City’s workforce. The research emphasised the rise in mobile working and a more flexible workforce – with consequent demands on the City’s communications connectivity, for adaptable and well-designed workspace, and a public realm that supports the use of third spaces – such as cafes – to work in. This programme of work continues into this year, looking at the changing needs of the SME firms (employing <250 people) – who make up 98.6% of the business population in the Square Mile.
Financial services continues to be a key industry for London – and the UK more widely, and our annual Total Tax research showed that the tax generated by financial services has continued to rise – now standing at around £66.5bn, equivalent to well over half the annual NHS budget. Across Europe, our research showed financial services accounting for nearly 6% of the EU’s total economic output, with the potential for stable growth of 1.9% per annum to generate an additional 11 million new jobs by 2030 spread across sectors including construction, manufacturing and services.
Looking at global finance, we had the particularly exciting opportunity in 2015 to work with SWIFT to make public new data on the changing use of currencies globally, drawing on their global payments infrastructure linking more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. This emphasised the key role that the UK plays as an intermediary in financial flows, as well as the rapid growth of currencies such as the Chinese renminbi.
For a fuller overview of these and other pieces from 2015, please do download our Research Review – and look out for forthcoming work, as we continue to develop these themes.