Success of creative industries is good news for jobs growth in the capital

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Photo: Loreanto ┃

The creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the wider UK economy and that’s very good news for London which is the heartland of the sector.

Latest government figures show that the UK’s creative industries grew by 8.9% in 2014, the strongest performance of any sector. They are now worth £84.1 billion a year to the economy.

The creative industries were defined by the government at the start of the century as those based upon individual creativity, skill and talent that have the potential to create jobs and wealth through the exploitation of intellectual property.

If that all sounds a bit technical it boils down to things like the music, film, TV, video games, visual arts and the fashion industry. It also includes architecture, craft and design companies. But the biggest part is IT, software and computer services.

There were 1.8 million jobs in the creative industries in the UK in 2014, when they were last counted, and most of them were in London. The last few years has also seen a substantial rate of growth in the East and West Midlands, the South West and the North East.

creative industries

The creative industries account for 11.8% of the jobs in the London economy, a much higher proportion than any other regions.  So, the continued success of this sector is particularly vital for the capital.

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See also

Economic growth carries risk for culture and creativity, says report

Shrinking public sector employment outdone by private sector jobs growth

Self employed map shows huge rise in parts of city


All aboard! Big growth in public transport use in past 5 years

tube commutersThe public transport network across the capital is seeing a rise in passengers at twice the rate of population growth.  In the past 5 years the number of journeys taken on the Transport for London system of Tube, train, tram and bus has gone up by 14% while the population has risen by half that rate to break the 8.6 million mark.

The number of people in inner London, who may be more reliant on public transport,  has grown slightly faster than the rate for the capital as a whole, but the data underlines that the greater use of the transport network is linked not just to population but to economic factors.

The greatest growth in passenger numbers is on the Tube with 20% increase in journeys between the financial year 2010/11 and the most recent 12 months. Bus journeys rose by 5% rise over the same period. But the bus is still the most popular form of transport. Latest data from TfL shows that in the last 12 months buses carried 2.4 billion people while 1.3 billion Tube journeys were recorded.

TFL growth all

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground trains and the trams service make up just 5% of the journeys over the 5 years. But the growth in the DLR over that period has been strong as an improving economy has brought more jobs and homes along its routes.

TFL growth DLR

The biggest growth is in London Overground, the orbital train network around the capital. Passenger journeys have increased by 81% over 5 years but this is not a like for like comparison as the network has expanded during the period. The link between Clapham Junction and Surrey Quays was opened at the end of 2012 and the network recently added more lines including Liverpool Street to Enfield, Cheshunt and Chingford.

The only mode of transport that has seen a decline is the tram. Passenger journeys are down in recent months, but this may be related to station development work at Wimbledon which means the service is currently not running to this main connection point with the train and Tube network.

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See also

Central Line leads the lost hours league table of your Tube delays

London leads the way in declining car use but the East is bucking the trend

Thousands forced to stand as train overcrowding worsens

Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains








What National Insurance really tells us about London’s overseas workforce

The release of the latest data on National Insurance registrations by people from overseas offers a good insight into economic migration into the UK. The headlines on the release of the data focused on the rise in Romanians. That was certainly the case, but the detailed data and longer-term trends show the changing patterns of new arrivals and give clues as to what drives people to come or stops them from doing so.

The financial year 2014-15 saw a substantial jump in the number of people from outside the UK seeking to work in London. The number registering for a National Insurance number in the capital was up by 38% on the previous year to 334,419. That’s around 40% of total registrations for the UK.

Anyone looking to work in the UK or claim a benefit needs an NI number, including the self-employed or students working part time. Although people may have been in the UK some time before they apply for a NI registration the data is seen as a useful proxy for migration rates and has the benefit of being based on hard figures rather than the survey estimates used to calculate migration totals.

The biggest and the fastest growing group are Romanians. Registrations in London increased by 200% in year, rising from 22,000 in 2013-14 to 67,000 in 2014-15.

NI all overseas

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 but were not allowed free access to work in the UK given to other EU citizens until January 2014. The number of Bulgarian registrations in London went up to a little over 18,000, a rise of 178%.

The figures show that it is not just the new members of the EU that are increasingly coming to London but people from southern Europe. After Romanians the biggest single national group last year were the 35,000 Italians.

NI leading nations

The historical data shows how there has been a strong and sustained growth in people coming to work in London from southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece) since the economic crisis of 2008.

The economic woes in southern Europe that has pushed many of its workers to the UK may also be a factor influencing the decision of Romanians and Bulgarians to come. Traditionally Romanians have headed primarily to Spain and Italy to find work outside their own country.

The change to restriction, allowing access to the UK labour market, is the trigger for the 2014 spike in what the EU refers to as the A2 countries (Romania and Bulgaria) but that spike may be sharper due to economic circumstances in their preferred southern European labour markets.

The cumulative totals for workers from Spain, Italy and Romania show the southern Europe effect. The spike in 2014 for Romanians may have been a more gradual rise since the economic downturn since 2008 if the restrictions had not been in place.

NI Sp It Rom cumulative

For the EU’s co called A8 nations, the Eastern European states of Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, the trend is steady over recent years. Led by workers from Poland registrations soared after they joined the EU in 2004. The financial crisis in 2008 led to a drop in arrivals but that there has been a gradual increase since then as the UK economy recovered.

Workers coming from Europe are the dominant overseas groups in London. In 2009/10 they accounted for 40% of London registrations. By last year that had increased to 78%.

The data for Asian registrations helps explain this change. NI registrations by people from Asia had climbed steeply in 2009 but fell sharply from 2011 onwards as the Cameron government introduced new restrictions on migrants that applied only to those from outside the EU.

Figures for the first quarter of this financial year (April – June) show registrations from Romania and Bulgaria continue to be a dominant factor. If the trend for the A8 nations from Eastern Europe is repeated then this will continue to be the story for the next few years.

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See also

The importance of the London factor in overseas worker numbers

New workers stick together and head north of river as they settle in the capital

Where in the world would you like to work?

Poles and Pakistanis help shape the multi-cultural make up of the city



Economic clout helps London to another global cities crown

River Tower Br ShardLondon is the clear winner in a global cities ranking that scored 30 cities in 10 different categories. London won thanks to topping the categories that mark it out as a leading centre of the world economy. It had the highest score as the city with the most economic clout and the best gateway for connecting to other cities. And it was equal first with the South Korean capital, Seoul, in the technology category.

PwC, the multinational professional services firm, put the rankings together. This is the sixth time it has carried out the Cities of Opportunity study. It is the first time that London has come top and PwC said it has done so clearly after losing out to New York in the last rankings in 2012 by a tenth of a percentage point.

PwC global rankings

New York achieved second place without winning any of the 10 categories but by scoring consistently well across the range. Singapore climbed up from seventh place to finish third.   Of the top 10 cities, 9 have held on to a place despite some rises and falls, but Sydney is the only one to fight it’s way into the top flight, at the expense of Tokyo, which slipped to 13.

English is the native language in 6 of the top 10 cities. It is also one of the official languages in Singapore and Hong Kong, and widely spoken in Stockholm. Paris is the sole city in the top 10 to challenge the dominance of the English-speaking world.

Consistency was a key to success for the top 10 cities. London won 3 categories and came second in another 3. It’s lowest performances were for cost and sustainability.


How London scored
Category Position (out of 30)
Intellectual Capacity and Innovation 2
Technology Readiness 1 =
City Gateway 1
Transport and Infrastructure 6 =
Health, Safety and Security 6 =
Sustainability and Natural Environment 15
Demographics and Livability 2
Economic Clout 1
Ease of Doing Business 5
Cost 15

With the exception of Sydney all the cities in the top 10 of the overall rankings managed to be in the top 10 in at least half of the categories.

PwC used 59 data points to judge the 10 categories and additionally used a survey of 15,000 of its own employees around the world to answer questions about living, working and commuting in their city.   The data was sourced from multinational institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, national statistics offices like the ONS in the UK, and commercial data providers.

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See also

London flies flag for West as East leads global growth ranking

London “most influential” global city

London ranked as top global city destination



Economic inactivity, like unemployment, higher among ethnic groups

commuters B&W1.3 million working age Londoners are “economically inactive” and people from ethnic groups are 60% more likely to be in this category than white people.

Economic inactivity is a definition used for people who are not seeking work or unable to work.   The main groups in this category are the sick and disabled, people caring for family, students and those who have retired early.

Data from the Office of National Statistics show that 18.9% of the 3.5 million working age white people in London are economically inactive but for the capital’s 2.25 million working age people from other ethnic groups it is 30.2%

In 5 boroughs – Hackney, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Islington and Camden – the rate of economic inactivity among ethnic groups is more than twice that of whites. In Hackney, the rate is 39% for ethnic minorities and just 14% for the white population.

In 4 boroughs – Bexley, Barking & Dagenham, Bromley and Enfield – the rate is lower for ethnic groups than for whites. In Barking & Dagenham, which has a working population with similar numbers from white and ethnic groups, the rate is 30% for white and 26% for ethnic minorities.

Economic inactivity 2 boroughts

The data also shows that people who are economically inactive varies across different ethnic groups. It is highest among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and lowest in people with an Indian background.

econmic inactivity ethnic figs


People of mixed ethnic origin are the only group where rates are lower in London than the rest of the UK.

As previously reported by Urbs London, people from ethnic groups are also twice as likely to be unemployed as white people.

Source data

See also

Jobs growth shows changing face of work

1 in 3 kids growing up in out-of-work households in parts of London


How London boroughs will rival the ‘Northern Powerhouse’


The Chancellor, George Osborne, is very proud of his concept of the northern powerhouse. He first coined the phrase in Manchester last year and couldn’t help a smile as the Queen used the term in the state opening of parliament this week.

The idea is to build the economy of the cities in the North of England to rival London and the South East. There’s even a government minister for the northern powerhouse. But a look at the economic data shows the scale of the task and underlines the strength of London.

The Office for National Statistics uses GVA (Gross Value Added) to measure the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, sector or area in the UK. Using the latest data for 2013 Urbs compared the North West region of England, which includes Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria with the area classified as Inner London West, which includes the City of London and 5 boroughs – Westminster, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth.

North West of England Inner London West
Population 7.1 million 1.1 million
Total GVA £142 billion £151 billion
GVA per head £20,000 £136,000

The figures for Inner London West are inflated by the financial service activity of the City, but demonstrate its economic contribution. The per capita calculation may be unfair as many of the people involved in generating the output of the area in London may live elsewhere.

However, the figures for Inner London East – the 8 boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Islington, Haringey, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth – are instructive. These boroughs represent some of the capital’s more deprived areas. The GVA for this area is £87 billion, which translates as £39,000 per head, nearly double that of the North West of England.

Developing a so-called northern powerhouse to redress the North/South divide is widely seen as a good ambition but the hard numbers show that London is likely to remain the real powerhouse of the UK economy.

Source data

See also:

NY beats London in economic power

Self employed map shows huge rise in parts of city

hMore and more people are working for themselves and in some parts of London it has gone up by over 50% in the past 5 years.

Data from the annual population survey done by the Office for National Statistics shows a 16% increase in people who are self employed across London since 2010.  In Barking and Dagenham it has gone up by 59% in the same period.  In Harrow the rise is 52%.

The figures for 2014 show that 18% of Londoners are working for themselves, a slightly higher rate than the national average. In Barnet 25% of the working population is self employed. Camden and Kensington and Chelsea are just behind.  It is half that rate in Tower Hamlets, Bexley and Hillingdon.

Self employment

According to the Bank of England the record growth in self employment across the UK is a long-term trend and largely fuelled by older people continuing to work, and choosing to work for themselves.  In its recent quarterly bulletin the Bank says there is little evidence that the rise hides people who are looking for jobs or that people are under-employed in working for themselves.

Part time working has seen a more gradual rise over the pst 10 years. 22% of London’s workers are now part time, which is slightly below the national average.  But again the figures vary.  Enfield and Haringey have the highest proportion of part time workers, closely followed by Redbridge and Brent.  Hounslow and Wandsworth have the lowest.

Part time working map


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London “most influential” global city

city towersLondon is the most influential city in the world thanks to its pre-eminence as a global financial capital and its location, according to business publisher Forbes.

While the United Kingdom is described as a “second-rate power” the capital leads the list for global influence judged by 8 criteria.  Researchers ranked cities according to the amount of foreign direct investment they have attracted, the concentration of corporate headquarters, number of business niches they dominate,  ease of air travel to other global cities, strength of services like legal and accountancy, financial services, technology and media power, and racial diversity.

The top five cities were:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Paris
  4. Singapore
  5. Tokyo

Location plays an important role in London’s ranking. Forbes says that being outside the US and the eurozone keeps it away from, what it called, “unfriendly regulators”. It has the second best air connections in the world, beaten only by Dubai. And it has a time-zone advantage over American in doing business with Asia.

History and tradition play a part too. Forbes says that London is the birthplace of the cultural, legal and business practices that define capitalism.  As the home of the English language it boasts a powerful position in media and advertising.  London has also become Europe’s leading tech start up city

New York came second in the Forbes list though in separate rankings for economic power and as a smart city, both reported by Urbs, it outperformed London.  The top two were some way ahead of third place Paris in all criteria. Singapore was the leading Asian city outperforming the mega cities of China and Japan. Dubai is the only city in the Middle East to make the top 10, thanks, says Forbes, to its globalisation strategy and a population diversity that has made it the crossroads of the world.

The size of the cities was of less importance. Of the top 10 on the list only 3, New York, Tokyo and Beijing, are ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most populous cities.  The cities of the so-called BRIC nations are becoming more important and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are all in the top 20. Poor infrastructure means it will be some time before Brazil and India break into the top flight of these rankings, says Forbes.

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Welcome to the city of the super rich

hThere are more ultra-wealthy people living in London than any other city in the world.  A survey of the location of people identified as Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) found that 4,364 are living in London.  That’s 22% higher than nearest rival Tokyo.  This extremely rich group is defined as people with over $30 million.

Wealth individuals

The rankings are revealed in the Global Cities Survey 2015, part of the annual Wealth Report produced by estate agents Knight Frank.

Worldwide there are 172,850 UHNWIs and their total wealth is $20.8 trillion. (A trillion has 12 zeros). Last year an additional 5,200 people worldwide reached the $30 million level.

In the UK as a whole there are 13,176.  That’s fewer than in the US, Japan, China and Germany.  But at a rate of 17 per 100,000 of the population, the UK has the highest proportion of people in this ultra-wealthy bracket.

London is not only the most popular home to UHNWIs but is also seen as the most important city to them based on business links, economic activity and lifestyle. Using the location information of these individuals plus a survey of wealth managers and private bankers who advise them London holds the top spot, followed by New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.

For more on London’s place in other global ranking see here and here on Urbs.London