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The New Year often provides an opportunity to take stock of the last 12 months, and also to make lists. We’ve had a very busy 2013, and the below compiles the cream of the crop from our research last year. Have a look at our top five, in chronological order:
Our first report in the City Money series revealed the inner workings of local government, showing how cities manage their money and where the power lies in making decisions. The report argued that Whitehall has an inordinate sway over council budgets, and that cities need more flexibilities and freedoms to raise revenue and prioritise spending: local government being best placed to determine how to foster the local economic growth that will provide the resources for local spending. There will be more in the City Money series coming out in 2014.
“Mid-Sized Cities” shined a spotlight on the 26 largest cities after the Core Cities and their contribution to the UK economy. This group makes up 14 per cent of England’s economy, a similar size to the Core Cities and almost as large as London. While addressing the differences between these cities, the report also sets out the ways they contribute to the national economy and the advantages of closer collaboration. The launch of the new Key Cities group has been a welcome step in the right direction.
Our first ever Small Business Outlook report came out in the middle of the year and mapped how SMEs performed in different parts of the UK, showing that cities vary enormously in their ability to generate jobs and value out of their SMEs. The report also looked into some of the factors that influence SME performance, and highlighted that their resilience and adaptability meant they have become more important over the last decade. This video introduces some of the themes of the report.
“Beyond the High Street” argued that the emphasis policymakers placed on reviving the high street enforced a narrow focus on retail. Instead, the report suggested that a high street’s health was dependent on the fortunes of the wider city centre in which it was based, particularly its ability to create jobs and increase footfall. We continued to explore the need for “jobs not shops” in a series of blog posts, the first of which can be found here, and some of the recommendations have been reflected in the Scottish Government’s approach to the issue.
Our first in a series of “Delivering Change” reports appeared at the end of the year and looked at practical and cost-efficient ways cities can encourage low carbon practices. Bringing together case studies from the UK and around the world, the report identified the tools cities have at their disposal to meet their low carbon growth priorities. Throughout, the stress is on the need to select policy solutions that are locally tailored and make good economic as well as environmental sense. Our “Delivering Change” series is designed to be used by local decision-makers as toolkits supplying workable approaches to a range of issues facing cities, and there will be more to come in 2014.
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