Report calls for £16bn investment in regional UK cities

The UK’s failure to invest in its regional cities has hindered the country’s economic growth, resulting in lower standards of living compared to the US, France and Germany, according to a report released by the Centre for Cities think tank on Wednesday. 

The report, issued ahead of the G7 summit this week, calls on the  next UK government to commit £15.9 billion over 10 years in Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds to encourage innovation through local universities, investment in city centres and the expansion of transport services. It said much of that funding has already been earmarked by the last government but has not been spent.

According to the report, titled ‘Climbing the Summit: Big Cities in the UK and G7’, a ‘British CHIPS Act for city innovation’ would focus on making these cities more attractive places to do business by boosting the availability of office space in city centres, improving local transport and encouraging the commercialisation of ideas from the leading universities of each city.

“The message for policy makers is to take note of why the USA, France and Germany perform so much better than the UK. While not the exclusive reason, a major part of this is the success of their big cities,” said Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities. “The size of cities like Manchester and Birmingham means they should have an advantage in attracting cutting-edge businesses. This is exactly what cities like Chicago, Munich and Lyon do, offering access to skilled workers, high-quality office space and ‘spillover’ benefits from neighbouring firms. British policy makers need to focus on addressing the reasons why our large cities don’t do this to the same extent.”