Survey Finds 40% of Londoners Would Consider Move to Europe

More than one in three Londoners would consider leaving the U.K. capital, just as its financial district starts a push to boost its appeal in the wake of the pandemic and Brexit.

About 40% of Londoners said they would be open to leaving the U.K. to work in another European country, according to a September survey of more than 1,000 people working in the U.K. by recruiter Adecco and YouGov. That compares to 16% of respondents who said they expected to leave the capital in a 2018 Grant Thornton poll.

The findings underscore concerns that the pandemic and the U.K.’s departure from the European Union may make it less attractive to workers mobile enough to move. The City of London Corporation, which oversees the financial district, released a research report Friday that highlighted London’s strengths as a financial center and plans to reshape the Square Mile into a hub for fintech and sustainable finance.

The report’s optimism contrasts with a backdrop of Covid-cleared streets and thousands of finance workers relocated to cities like Paris and Frankfurt since the U.K. voted to leave the bloc.

“Even with a Brexit deal and the vaccine rollout underway, the high levels of uncertainty are leading young people in particular to look outside the U.K. and London for work,” said Alex Fleming, president of Northern Europe at Adecco. “If businesses do not act now to turn this around, they will lose valuable talent and ultimately risk their chances of successfully bouncing back in the long-run.”

The research also suggested London faces plenty of domestic competition too, with 63% of finance workers expecting a “reverse brain drain” of talent away from big cities like London and Manchester towards more regional areas due to the Covid pandemic.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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