Comment: the Government’s levelling up agenda must not risk making London’s housing crisis worse

Last week was MIPIM. This four-day international property conference took place in Cannes. It saw governments and architects speed-date financiers and developers. I tried to distinguish between the 20,000 men wearing blue suits. The first year after the pandemic was not as normal. However, regular attendees were surprised by the low-key London presence. This was generally due to the Government’s levelling down agenda. As a Londoner, I am aware that too much of the UK is centralized in London. Londoners will benefit from encouraging investment in infrastructure, jobs, and infrastructure in other regions. This will reduce pressure on housing and services. Many fear that London will be pushed down if it is unable to level up in order to win political points. The capital may have the highest wealth rates in the country, but it also has the highest levels of poverty, which is exacerbated by high housing costs. The percentage of people living in poverty in London is approximately equal to that in the rest of England, even before housing costs are taken into account. Add these figures together and the number jumps to 12 percent in London and four percent elsewhere. London could benefit as much from a well-planned national policy that allows local changes of emphasis as Leeds or Launceston. We cannot allow a 10 million-strong global city to languish and pretend it’s for the good of all.