Urban Voices: UK City Leaders’ Survey 2018

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

Report published on 5 December 2018 by Rita Beden, Lahari Ramuni, Zach Wilcox and Siri Arntzen

The inaugural UK City Leaders’ Survey, developed jointly by Centre for Cities and Arup, asked the elected leaders of the UK’s largest urban areas about their ambitions and frustrations on issues such as Brexit, devolution, the upcoming Spending Review and housing.

The UK’s urban policy agenda has gained a lot of ground in recent years. While City Deals and more substantive Devolution Deals have given major cities and city regions some of the powers and resources they need to prosper, many city leaders around the country are not empowered to directly address the challenges and opportunities facing their economies.

Overview of the survey findings

Policy priorities

  • Housing and regeneration was identified as the biggest overall economic priority for the majority of leaders surveyed.
  • Among their priorities for improving transport, leaders tended to identify roads within their area and supporting a shift from cars to other modes of transport as the two key areas.
  • Leaders highlighted inclusive growth as another of their broader priorities, particularly through adult learning and helping those who are isolated from the job market to access opportunities.

Public service pressures

  • Social care was identified by almost every leader as being the public service under the most pressure.
  • Leaders identified two main challenges to service delivery – increasing demand for services and revenue funding.

Devolution and funding

  • All leaders demonstrated an appetite for devolution across a range of policy areas, from skills to borrowing for housing and transport.

After Brexit

  • The UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the proposed replacement for former EU funding, was what leaders most wanted more say on after Brexit.

This SlideShare presents a summary of the survey findings.



18-12-04 - Urban Voices - UK City Leaders Survey PDF (2 MB)

This survey was developed in partnership with Arup.

More on these issues