London's Burning- just a little too brightly

Could we really be in earshot of one of the most drastic transitional periods the United Kingdom has ever seen?

Whilst talk that our economy is finally emerging from the fierce financial turmoil undergone in the last five or six years has begun to circulate in the popular media more consistently, from where most are sitting- it seems we have a long way to go yet.

In the north we are faced with the prospect that Scotland may relinquish its member status to the Union as of next year, going at it alone for the first time in over three centuries, while in the south we see the continued intensification of an omnipresent pull of wealth towards our bustling and ancient (and anciently bustling) capital.

The northern issue is one for an entirely different day, a two-sided slanging match upon which there may have already been far too many misguided and one-dimensional blog posts published...

So for now then we’ll focus on the issues to do with London that are likely to affect your career prospects and future livelihood as a graduate here in the big bad world, circa 2013.

An Un-bridgeable Gap in Wealth

It’s hardly a revelation to state that London is pretty much the UK’s totalitarian centre for commerce, banking, big business & new jobs; a status which makes it by far the most prosperous and internationally alluring place within our tiny island group- for established professionals and ambitious students alike.

Lately however, it seems to be making the rest of us look terrible; whilst also contributing to our underachievement and sapping life from the many other areas of vast potential scattered throughout our charming and cloud-covered land.

Since 1997, per capita economic output in London has risen from an already rather staggering 70% higher than the rest of the UK combined, to 90% higher.

This point is positive in some ways, of course it is- how couldn't it be good ( some ways) to have a bustling capital to keep the hard-up cities of the north and rural south in pocket through the hard times etc. etc. yadda, yadda. 

In other ways however, it is also potentially very damaging.

For one thing, the never-ending influx of mega-rich individuals seeking somewhere safe and agreeable to store their cash and accumulate even more of it; thanks to the cities internationally renowned interest ratings, means that our noble £ is consistently overvalued in a way that is drastically out of proportion with the rest of the nation.

As a result of this, those outside of the city seeking a foothold within (particularly cash strapped, debt riddled grads like me and you), are having to spend more money, as well as sacrifice more time & effort than has ever before been required- in order to successfully make the move.

Another conceivably negative effect caused by this vast wealth is a constant and unwarranted global disregard for other UK-based industries. Not to mention the millions of professionals employed within these industries. Current standards may as well dictate that because they (we? you?) pursue a career from outside of London- they command half the professional authority they’re both capable and qualified to command.

The Housing Question

An undeniably conspicuous issue; and one that will likely affect your interests in a move to London far more directly- is the increasing difficulty aspiring big-smoke dwellers are having in relocating themselves to an adequate property within the sprawling maze of energy that is our capital city.

Last week Neil Irwin of the Washington Post told his readers of the current plight of some friends, a pair of 30-something professionals who are having a hard time trying to secure a place in central London. They couldn’t fathom how they were constantly being outbid, at their age and societal standing, by teenage students. 

Lucidity on the matter was provided by an eaves-dropping broker (my assumption, he doesn’t clarify in the column), who pointed out that a progressively larger number of students headed to London each year are the children (and presumably also the heirs) of the aforementioned legions of mega-rich. People who are hardly likely to be turned down by landlords and agency’s- due to their willingness to pay a full years-worth of rent as a lump sum mere moments after signing the tenancy agreement. 

Irwin then goes on to confirm a horrifying suspicion of many- that London is in fact a gilded city, a preserve for the global elite, an increasingly unrealistic destination for normal folk to realise their true potential and perhaps worst of all- an inaccurate representative of the wealth of the United Kingdom here in 2013.