Urban Voices: UK City Leaders’ Survey 2019

What do cities need from the next government?

This report presents findings from the second survey of UK city leaders, providing some understanding of their needs and challenges along with recommendations for national policymakers.

Report published on 2 December 2019 by Tatjana Neuhuber, Simon Jeffrey, Siri Arntzen and Zach Wilcox

For the second year running, Centre for Cities and Arup have conducted an annual survey asking the elected leaders of the UK’s largest urban areas about their ambitions and frustrations on issues such as transport, housing and the climate emergency.

City leaders work every day to solve issues affecting residents and businesses, such as improving
public transport, reducing toxic air, ensuring housing affordability and helping make sure people can get good jobs. They are important actors when it comes to addressing these crucial challenges and provide accountability to local residents and businesses. Hence, city leaders’ voices need to be heard and should be taken seriously if the government wants those issues close to families and businesses to be properly addressed.

Overview of the survey findings

  • Climate change mitigation has risen on city leaders’ agendas — throughout the survey, leaders identified climate change mitigation and air pollution as pressing challenges, and eight in ten would allocate more money to it if given the choice.
  • Public transport is a priority. Almost every respondent (94 per cent) chose to allocate money to public transport in a hypothetical grant and 41 per cent of respondents stated that they were encouraging bus travel to improve air quality.
  • Housing supply remains a challenge. This year, almost half of the leaders surveyed (44 per cent) said that challenges related to housing supply and affordability count to their top three overall policy priorities.
  • Funding and resources are needed. Leaders consistently reported that the lack of access to funding and resources is hampering the achievements of their major priorities: inclusive growth, transport, the quality of public services and climate change mitigation.
  • Leaders do not feel supported by the national government. When asked how well leaders feel that their cities are supported on the national level, the majority (62 per cent) said they were unsatisfied.

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