Serviced Offices London: London’s pivotal contribution to the economic success of the UK as a whole was highlighted today by The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Nick Anstee, when he gave the keynote address at the annual conference of the Business Centre Association (BCA).

Addressing the 200-strong business audience at the Hilton London in Canary Wharf, he said: “The promotion and success of London is a barometer and forerunner of economic success throughout the UK. The capital punches well above its weight: with just 12.4% of the population, it contributes 18% to the UK’s total tax take. Financial services contribute some 18.3% to London’s economy compared to just over 8% to the UK’s economy.”

But Alderman Anstee also added that London should not be viewed in isolation. “London’s strength partly comes from the strength of the rest of the country: it is a mutually enforcing link,” he stated. “Cities such as Manchester, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Glasgow know that they can provide very different experiences to investors – while still having the overall UK offer of a business-friendly gateway to Europe. That diversity plays to our advantage.”

The Lord Mayor said that restoring trust between the City and wider society had been a key goal of his office over the past year. He had sought to achieve this through three major objectives: better corporate governance and self-regulation; demonstrating that the financial services industry adds value to society and the real economy; and having a single, independent, authoritative voice for the industry. The latter was supported last week by an industry briefing for a new body called TheCityUK to promote the UK-wide financial services industry, to which the Lord Mayor asked the audience to lend their support.

The Lord Mayor pointed out that the City of London Corporation had seen the recession as an opportunity to buy and refurbish the kind of space that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) need. “We know how important SMEs are to the City of London and to the UK economy,” he said. “They represent the overwhelming majority of businesses. And we have a comprehensive programme of measures in place in the City of London to assist SMEs get through the downturn both here and in neighbouring boroughs. ”

He added that the City Corporation itself runs two business centres and has, since 2005, delivered 100,000 sq ft of floorspace to the market as part of its SME initiative. In the last month, it has also agreed in principle to become a founding partner of a Business Innovation and Incubation Centre based on an exciting new model that will provide start-up businesses with incubation space and serviced offices support. The centre is due to open this autumn.

Alderman Anstee appreciated that “BCA members also provide opportunities for SMEs to acquire flexible space without a lease – which is particularly valuable for all businesses in the current economic climate”.

The Lord Mayor ended his address on an upbeat note. He said he believed that foreign direct investment in the capital will increase, City employment will grow and relationships with the wider international community will continue to strengthen. In the short-term, he said the property fee earners in the audience would be pleased to hear that the City Corporation plans to build on its recent purchases in Fleet Street, Eastcheap and Shoreditch, and is open to individual or partnership opportunities.

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