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Chris Philp

Chris Philp is Conservative MP for Croydon South and sits on the Treasury Select Committee.

When Ken Livingstone was kicked out in 2008, London was in a mess. Home building starts were in free-fall. Unemployment was on the up.

After two terms under a hard-left Mayor whose political heroes are Hugo Chavez and Jeremy Corbyn, a new approach was sorely needed. Eight years later, Boris leaves London a far better place than he found it.

It is a city of growth. Compared to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world, London leads the way. Nearly a quarter of UK GDP can be accounted for by London alone despite being only 15 per cent of the population.

From 2010 to 2014 we saw economic growth of 15.9 per cent in real terms compared to 8.2 per cent nationally.

London has confirmed its place as a leading international financial hub. The brightest and best French financiers flock in their thousands to London, much to the disgust of the French socialists who have driven them away.  Boris Johnson should take huge credit for this renaissance.

Economic strength and resilience starts with a strong and flexible workforce. The employment rate in the capital increased from 67 per cent in 2010 to 73 per cent in 2015, which is pretty much at the highest rate since records began. With Boris as Mayor and George Osborne as Chancellor, London has got back to work.

In my south London constituency, unemployment has halved since 2010 and youth unemployment has fallen by an incredible 62 per cent.

One of the greatest achievements is apprenticeships. Since August 2010, London has created 235,000 of them, staggering when compared to the mere 70,000 created under Ken Livingstone. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of training people with a new skill and a new work ethic. Over 84 per cent of apprentices remain in employment after their scheme has concluded, and two thirds stay with their employer

In his action plan for Greater London, Zac Goldsmith has set out his employment targets, with the aim of securing over half a million more jobs for Londoners. He will also work with government to secure 250,000 fresh apprenticeships by the end of his term.

Both Boris and I are strong believers in the Living Wage. The London Living Wage reflects the significantly higher living costs faced by Londoners compared to people throughout the rest of the UK. 

Reflecting the challenges business faces, the wage is voluntary. However this has not stopped an incredible number of employers becoming accredited. 

Boris made a commitment soon after being elected in 2008 to support the London Living Wage and followed this with a 2012 manifesto target of having 250 employers Living Wage accredited by the end of his second term. He has far exceeded this target.

Under Boris’ Mayoralty, 839 firms now pay it. This is compared to only 27 in 2008. Since 2011, the benefit of the London Living Wage has been felt by over 30,000 London workers by Accredited Living Wage employers alone. Boris strongly felt that the London Living Wage should become commonplace by 2020, and under Zac Goldsmith, this will happen.

Supporting a growing economy starts at ground level, and the creation of Business Improvement Districts was an important pledge by Boris.

 A BID is a geographical region where local traders vote to pay a levy which goes towards their chosen areas for improvement in the local environment. These grassroots, business-led organisations become the lifeblood of their local economies.

 Boris set a target of supporting 50 of these districts, which he achieved in March. Together they have contributed more than £25 million to the regeneration of town centres and industrial hubs across the city.

The Purley BID in my constituency started last year and is already on its way to revitalising the district centre, and Zac has pledged to invest £1 million in Purley Town centre if elected. I am now working to set up a BID in Coulsdon – a great way of empowering small traders to compete against the big chains.

High labour productivity is another key element of the economic legacy left by Boris. Productivity not only plays an important role in strong economic growth but is also directly linked to living standards.

It is crucial for long-term sustained economic growth for productivity to grow in parallel. Historically UK productivity has grown around 2 per cent per year. The impact of the 2008/09 recession meant this dropped significantly. However the rebound from this downturn has been a long time coming.

While nationally there was an uphill battle to get productivity back on track, with a national increase of only 0.9 per cent in 2015, London far surpassed this. The capital has made a strong return to productivity growth post-recession, with productivity levels 30 per cent higher than the UK average in 2014.

According to statistics from the ONS the average effort put in per hour by a London worker is an incredible 42 per cent higher than the national average. The boost in employment and the increase in the London Living Wage encouraged by our outgoing mayor has driven this productivity growth, making for a stronger economy in our capital.

The importance of technology in our economy is growing exponentially. Just five years have passed since the cluster of technology firms formerly known as ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in East London started. The city is now a world leader in FinTech and e-commerce.

 No less than 13 of the so-called ‘Unicorns’, tech start-ups achieving $1 billion valuations, have come from London – a third of the European total. Household names such as Just Eat, Shazam and TransferWise have become global players in this time. 

Venture capital into London is now ten times what is was in 2010, with Tech firms in the capital securing over £900m of this venture capital in 2014. Boris has not only recognised the importance of our flourishing technology scene, but has been an ambassador for the sector.

We must back Zac to secure Boris’s golden legacy, and not elect Corbyn’s candidate Sadiq Khan who will rapidly takes us back to the misery of Livingstone and his inspiration, Hugo Chavez.

 I have been hitting the streets of Croydon to do this in the past few months, and I hope to see many fellow Conservatives on the campaign trail in the coming days.

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