Inclusive growth is a topic of growing concern among national and local policymakers. Cities, thanks to their ability to create economic growth, have a central role in understanding the causes of, and providing solutions to poverty and inequality.

However, as this report shows, different places are at different stages when it comes to creating economic opportunities for those at the bottom end of the labour market. This is something both national and local policymakers need to be mindful of when designing successful inclusive growth strategies.

In particular:

  • There cannot be inclusive growth without economic growth, as such cities with weaker economies need to focus on creating economic growth by attracting high-skilled exporting businesses. Short-term solutions to improve the economic outcomes of low-skilled people, such as attracting in low-skilled businesses will not, in the long term, support the economic growth required to support inclusive growth. Rather, weaker economies should focus on attracting investment from high-skilled exporters. This means cities need to increase the benefits they offer to such businesses by focusing on attracting and retaining talent, improving within-city transport, such as bus, and offering high-quality office space to businesses.
  • Cities with strong economies need to make sure their economic growth is accessible to everyone in their labour market. To support their ongoing success, these cities need to focus on measures that make their job opportunities accessible, such as building more homes, ensuring better public transport connections between suburbs and city centres and continuing to work towards improving the skills of their residents.
  • Central Government should follow similar principles in the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. That means ensuring that in places with weak economies funding is not only directed to helping people participate in the labour market, but is also aimed at supporting places in the creation of high-skilled economic growth.
  • More widely, there should be a much greater focus on adult education both at the national and local level, to ensure those with few or no qualifications can train and upskill. Much of today’s low-skilled workforce is the legacy of an education system that failed to prepare everyone to be successful in the labour market. While much has been done in recent years to tackle this issue, a lot still remains to be done for those that have already left compulsory education. For this reason, national and local policymakers should work together to improve access to, and take-up of, adult education.