The City Growth Commission's first open call for evidence ran from 28 October 2013 to 17 January 2014, and is now closed.
There is a body of international evidence that suggests the UK’s large cities outside London (“middleweight” cities, by global standards) are underperforming relative to their global counterparts. McKinsey Global Institute has pointed out that the UK’s middleweight cities have contributed less to the nation’s growth than their European peers do in their respective countries.
The Spatial Economic Research Centre (SERC) at the LSE highlighted that the most effective urban economic strategies are based on the actual workings of local economy, rather than how some policymakers at a national level would prefer them to behave. This suggests that wider economic growth could be best achieved through fiscal and governance arrangements at a local level.
The Commission requested evidence in response to the following questions:
What are the key benefits – for the economy, investment, innovation, productivity and public finances – of shifting to a multi-polar growth model, in which our major cities are key players in the nation’s economy?
What does the international evidence show about the role of cities in driving growth and catalysing innovation? What are the key success factors that we can learn from?
What is the relationship between public service reform and economic growth at city level? How can more effective demand management – through public service reconfiguration and integration for instance – help to drive social and economic productivity? Can this enable our cities to become more financially sustainable?
How can decision making and responsibility for public policy and public services be better aligned with the reality of local labour markets? How can policies around employment support, childcare, skills policy, welfare strategy and economic development better reflect the needs of local people and businesses?
How can growth in other UK cities complement London’s economic success? What should be the interrelationship between devolution, growth and reform strategies in London and in our other major cities?
What needs to change between Whitehall and our cities to multi-polar growth a reality? What does the Centre need to do to enable this and what economic and revenue levers do cities require?
What other practical, organisational, cultural and systemic barriers stand in the way of a fundamental shift in economic power to our cities and how can these be overcome?
To whom was the call for evidence directed?
The call was primarily (though not exclusively) directed towards business representatives, academics and policymakers. We need to establish a broad and deep knowledge base, including the perspectives of those who may not be obvious stakeholders.
What will be done with my evidence?
This and future open calls for evidence will serve as one of three formal inputs into the Commission’s final report, along with commissioned research and high-level roundtables. All evidence will be read and considered by the research team and used to help formulate the Commission’s final analysis and recommendations. Submitted evidence may also be used as the basis on which to invite stakeholders to submit additional evidence in oral consultations.