As I said in my opening statement, I am deeply humbled by the trust that has been placed in me to continue leading the greatest city on earth. There is nothing I take more seriously than my commitment to Londoners and I have been determined to deliver them from day one of this second term, just like when I was first elected five years ago.
In my second term as Mayor, I promise to stand up for London during these tough times and to deliver the changes our city needs. This means getting London’s economy firing on all cylinders again, protecting and creating the higher-quality jobs Londoners deserve, and banging the drum for our city, both at home and around the world, to attract the jobs, business and investment we need.
Our recovery from this pandemic is too important to let politics get in the way, so I am reaching out to the Government so that we can work constructively together for the sake of London and the whole country. London is the engine of the UK’s economy and we stand ready to play our part in a national recovery that benefits everyone. Rather than pitting parts of our country against one another, let us level up London and every other town, city and region in the UK.
I also promise to continue working day and night to tackle the longstanding issues that matter most to Londoners: tackling violence, making London safer, building more affordable homes, supporting young Londoners, and tackling the twin challenges of air pollution and climate change. In everything I do as Mayor, you will see my commitment to creating a fairer, more equal and more just city for all Londoners. These are the challenges ahead as we work to get the city back on its feet, but I am confident that we can harness the spirit that got us through the pandemic to reopen, rebuild and reignite our amazing city, putting the dark days of the past year behind us.
In that spirit of reaching out to the Government, could I just highlight one particular scheme, the Kickstart scheme, aimed at 18 to 24-year-olds? Of course, this is a very important scheme and the Government is right to prioritise that, but there are problems with it. There are problems with the Government reaching its targets. All the private-sector people that I talk to in my constituency are saying it is not working for them.
Will you use your office and influence to bring the partners of London together to speak to the Government, to see if there are some changes and tweaks to the scheme that can benefit everyone, and make it easier and more accessible for those who need that support to employ others? Immediately, we have some time here, it looks like, for the economy. Your recent release says where it is going at the moment. It is about using this time properly to get schemes like this to work properly not just for London, but for the country.
Yes, spot on. The Kickstart scheme is a good scheme. The theory is great. We had one similar in 2008, 2009 and 2010. It has had a mixed response. I hope the Government will be flexible enough to adapt it to make sure it meets the aspirations of businesses. Businesses want to invest in young people and they want to play their role, but it is not quite working as the Government intended. We are happy to work with them. We have a huge amount of expertise. We also speak to many businesses - small, medium and large - that could really add input to this.
The other part of the equation is the Apprenticeship Levy. It is not quite working as the Government intended. Again, it is a great idea and we think can help. We are reaching out to the Government and the Government is, hopefully, more receptive now there are no elections forthcoming and we can park party politics and work together.
Thank you. Do you want to comment on what the economic situation looks like over the next three-year period? The Government is indicating that it is probably at the end of two to three years when we might come under pressure. Do you concur with that?
Apparently it is unwise to listen to forecasts from economists. History tells us that sometimes they get it wrong. The forecast we have so far is optimistic for a rapid recovery in the next couple of years. The two big concerns are when the furlough scheme ends in September  - particularly for some sectors that rely upon footfall like non-essential retail, culture and hospitality, leisure and tourism - and, secondly, what happens in the medium to long term. We still have not seen the consequences of Brexit for professional services. There is no deal, basically, and we are nervous about that. We are a global city that relies upon international travel. This year will be better than we expected; the real concern is for 2023 and 2024.