Business

London population set to decline for first time since 1988 – report | UK news


London’s population is set to decline for the first time in more than 30 years, driven by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and people reassessing where they live during the crisis, according to a report.

The accountancy firm PwC said the number of people living in the capital could fall by more than 300,000 this year, from a record level of about 9 million in 2020, to as low as 8.7 million. This would end decades of growth with the first annual drop since 1988.

The forecast comes as city-dwellers rethink their living situations during lockdown and a boom in home working during the pandemic encourages growing numbers of people to consider moving elsewhere.

Other drivers include a smaller number of graduates moving to London, fewer job opportunities in the capital and lower international migration to the city as a result of the pandemic and Brexit. Net EU migration to the UK as a whole has fallen since the 2016 Brexit vote, and could turn negative in 2021 – meaning more people leave the UK for the EU than arrive from it – for the first time since the early 1990s, according to PwC forecasts.

The accountancy firm also said the UK could record a “baby bust” in 2021, with the annual birth rate dipping to the lowest level since records began more than a century ago.

London’s population is forecast to decline this year

Although it will take time before official population figures are published, PwC said there were early signs that London was on track to shrink for the first time this century. It said an August 2020 survey by the London Assembly found that 4.5% of Londoners – or 416,000 people – said they would definitely move out of the city within the next 12 months.

READ  Could quantum computers help in the future?

Official figures show UK unemployment is rising fastest in London boroughs, as the country grapples with the deepest recession for 300 years. Job postings have fallen by the most among Europe’s biggest capital cities. According to economists, London’s jobs woes are a reflection of the city’s density and typical opportunities for work during normal times – such as in hospitality, leisure, retail and travel – which have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Londoners are also more likely to work from home than anywhere else in the UK – due to a higher proportion of professional, IT and finance jobs in the City – meaning more people could move to other parts of the country if remote-working practices are sustained beyond the crisis.

A decline in London’s population would represent a return to the years in the middle of the 20th century when London’s population collapsed after the second world war, as people moved away from the bombed-out and blitzed city for a life in the leafier home counties or other parts of the country, dropping from 8.6 million in 1939 to 6.8 million in the 1980s.

Population growth returned in the late 1980s, fuelled by London’s growth as a global financial centre, epitomised by the redevelopment of Canary Wharf in the London Docklands. In a reversal of the mid 20th-century trend, international migration helped lift the population to its pre-war peak by 2015, and was on track to hit 10 million.

Hannah Audino, an economist at PwC, said a sustained decline in London’s population would have wide-ranging consequences for the capital’s economy, house prices and transport network, but that it was too early to know for certain whether Covid and Brexit would have a long-term impact.

READ  'Breathing space' for indebted consumers

“It depends on the extent to which remote working truly does become the new normal into the long term. A lot of people really miss the office environment, so once social distancing measures are fully history, infive to 10 years’ time, maybe people will go back more to city living,” she said.

A spokesman for Sadiq Khan said the Mayor of London was confident that the city would emerge stronger from the Covid crisis. “The pandemic has had a profound effect on London and Londoners, but Sadiq is determined that the capital will recover to become cleaner, greener and fairer, with thriving neighbourhoods, improved wellbeing and a strengthened healthcare system.”



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.