As the country prepares to leave the EU, most UK cities must urgently address low levels of skills, productivity and innovation to have the best chance of competing with European counterparts for the industries and jobs that offer long-term growth and prosperity.
This is according to a new report, Competing with the Continent, published today by the think tank Centre for Cities, which presents an in-depth picture of how UK city economies compare to European counterparts, covering 330 cities across 17 countries (1).
It reveals that UK cities account for over a fifth of Europe’s urban economic output – the largest share of any nation in the continent – and play a bigger role within the national economy than cities in other European countries, contributing 60% of the UK’s national economic output (compared to just 36% in Germany and 32% in Italy).
However, the report shows that most UK cities fall below the European urban average for skills, productivity and innovation – weaknesses which must be addressed to help cities across the UK to compete globally, particularly for the knowledge-intensive firms and jobs which are increasingly important for boosting growth, employment and wages:
Given these findings, the report argues that strengthening UK city economies – by tackling skills-gaps and empowering places to boost local growth – must be a top priority for the Government in its new industrial strategy, and in the forthcoming autumn statement.
Commenting on the report, Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities
“No other economy in Europe is so dependent on the performance of its cities, yet too many of the UK’s urban areas are failing to realise their potential. For the country to thrive in the years to come, it’s vital that the Government works with cities to address the skills and productivity gaps holding most places back.
“In particular, the Government should ensure that any new funding commitments in the Autumn Statement focus on boosting the key drivers of growth in cities, such as skills, transport and housing. Over the long-term, it should also build on its devolution agenda by giving places the powers they need – and which European counterparts already enjoy – to grow their local economies.”
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Alexandra Jones, please contact please contact Brian Semple, Press Manager for the Centre for Cities, on 0207 803 4316 / 07595 439 638 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
The report ‘Competing with the Continent – how UK cities compare with European counterparts’, will be available to download at https://www.centreforcities.org/competing-with-the-continent from 00:01 on 22 September 2016.
Most of the data was available from Urban Audit or Eurostat more widely, but several values were extracted from national statistics offices. For availability reasons the large majority of the dataset is for 2011.
About Centre for Cities:
Centre for Cities is a research and policy institute, dedicated to improving the economic success of UK cities. We are a charity that works with cities, business and Whitehall to develop and implement policy that supports the performance of urban economies. We do this through impartial research and knowledge exchange. For more information, please visit centreforcities.org
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