Cities make a huge contribution to the UK’s prosperity. They account for around 60 per cent of jobs, business starts and growth in the economy. Yet, there is huge regional variation in this: cities in Southern England are almost 50 per cent more productive than those elsewhere in the UK.
As an international comparison, the average worker in the Greater South East is more productive than their counterparts in Germany, but those in the rest of the UK are far less productive – meaning they will usually work longer hours and are paid less for their labour.
If politicians seeking the public’s votes on 12 December want to make Britain a more prosperous and productive place to live then the economic performance of cities needs to be considered at this election.
Our Urban Manifesto sets out our city-focused, five-point plan to transform Britain:
1. Create a City Centre Productivity Fund
The next Government should establish a £5 billion city centre productivity fund for councils to bid into to make their city centres more attractive places to do business.
2. Establish an Adult Education Service
The next Government should establish an Adult Education Service, similar to Singapore’s system that assigns £300 a year for training every person over 25 without good GCSEs.
3. Make it easier to build more homes in high-demand cities
The next Government should introduce a flexible zoning system, where development can proceed unless the council blocks it.
4. Give all cities London-style powers to manage bus networks
The next Government should extend the bus franchising powers already available to metro mayors to all cities, and it should provide £50 million funding to encourage mayors to use the powers they already have.
5. Give cities more power
The next Government should set out a clear plan for ensuring that all of the existing metro mayors, and any new ones created, are given powers and resources comparable to their international counterparts.