Cities report highlights skewed nature of UK economic recovery

The Centre for Cities has today published its seventh annual report into the economic conditions in the 64 largest urban areas in the UK. The Cities_Outlook_2014 report paints a picture of a patchy economic recovery across the UK, with many cities such as Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool and Leeds seeing an upturn in their economies, but one that lags significantly behind that of  London. The capital continues to disproportionately attract investment and people from across the UK and overseas, sometimes to the detriment of other towns and cities. The report argues that more power and finding needs to be devolved away from London to ensure that the UK enjoys a sustainable and balanced economic recovery.

According to the report, London ‘sucks talent from the rest of the country’ and so accounted for  over three quarters (79 percent) of national private-sector jobs growth between 2010 and 2012. The capital created 216,700 private sector jobs over that period, almost 10 times more than the second fastest-growing city, Edinburgh. London also had 66,000 public sector jobs created to meet the education and health demands of its growing population. For every public sector job created in the capital, two were lost in other cities.

Some of the biggest losers were cities such as Bradford and Glasgow, which saw job losses in both the public and private sector over the same period. Bristol, while performing well in other ways, experienced around 14,000 private sector jobs during the surveyed two years. The report argues the disparity explains why so many people in the UK have yet to feel the benefits of an economic recovery focussed on London.

Despite its claim that the UK has the most decentralised economy in the developed world, Paul Swinney, senior economist at the Centre for Cities, believes that the recovery and economic performance of London was good for the whole economy.”It’s one of the best performing cities in the world and from a national perspective we need to continue supporting the growth of London. The bigger issue is the underperformance of our next largest cities, such as Sheffield and Manchester. They’re very much punching below their weight in terms of their contribution to the national economy.”