Levelling-up ambitions make way for a levelling down as London takes a hit

This comes despite it having the biggest proportion on furlough at more than 17pc of eligible workers, compared to the national average of just over 15pc, according to HMRC.

A report commissioned by London Councils predicts unemployment in the capital could hit 9.4pc by the year’s end, after furlough ends. “This crisis is particularly affecting job-rich, youth-friendly industries like hospitality, retail and tourism,” says Tony Wilson at the Institute of Employment Studies, noting London has a very young, international population.

“If this permanently leads to fewer people spending time in offices and fewer international tourists, it could leave lasting scars in London.”

Shops, bars and theatres

London’s job crunch reflects the absence of people in the once-thriving metropolis. Every high street in the country took a hit from Covid, with pubs, restaurants and retailers deemed “non-essential” forced to close.

But visitor numbers are also crucial for those that can open, and it is central London businesses that have the least passing traffic compared to normal.

Football in the middle of the capital late last month was down more than 80pc on the same period for 2019, according to data from Springboard, making it far and away the hardest-hit part of the country. However, outer London’s drop of 50pc is the smallest fall in the nation, underlining the reason for the gap: commuters.

“City centres, and London in particular, will see the toughest period of recovery, because retail, leisure and hospitality rely so heavily on office workers,” says Richard Lim at Retail Economics.

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