Compared to the rest of London, SW London's employers are more likely to report an increase in productivity. An employer survey carried in 1999 showed that 23 per cent of employers said that productivity (output or sales per employee) had risen strongly in the last 12 months, compared with 19 per cent of London employers saying the same.

A further 28 per cent of SW Londondon employers said that productivity had risen a little, while only 26 per cent of London said the same.

The most frequent reason attributed to productivity gains is existing staff working harder, according to 67 per cent of relevant firms.

More positively, well over 1 in 2 firms attribute their productivity gains to new technology and more efficient working practices.

Jerry Irving, Business Services Manager at AZTEC, the training and enterprise council for Kingston, Wandsworth and Merton,, said this meant employers are demanding more of their employees these days, with more employees working more unpaid hours than previously because that is expected of them.

He said: "This is also impacting on the work/relaxation balance which is going to increase stress, and will also have an impact on family life if one member of the family is spending less time at home, a knock-on effect.

"Because of the employment situation in SW London, which is very good, people say they are having to work harder to maintain their jobs."