William Eichler 03 October 2018

Whitehall 'neglecting' smaller cities and towns, report warns

The Government’s focus on major cities ‘neglects’ the contribution that smaller cities, towns and communities can make to economic growth, according to a new study.

The report, published by Centre for Towns, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Industrial Communities Alliance, Key Cities Group, argues that national policymaking is ‘preoccupied’ with London and the main regional cities because of an assumption the wealth created in these areas will trickle down to the rest of the country.

Entitled Places with Purpose: the future of industrial cities, towns and communities, the study says the current UK model of economic growth is ‘not fit for purpose’ because the focus on the major cities ignores the social consequences of growing inequality within regions and nations.

There is ‘undue reliance’ on the financial services sector, which is mostly based in London, while manufacturing has been allowed to ‘stagnate’, the report says.

This has had a negative impact on industrial cities, towns and communities where up to half the UK population lives.

‘Smaller cities, towns and industrial communities are not just there to provide workers and consumers for the big metropolitan centres,’ says the report.

‘They are important in their own right and politicians and policymakers ignore them at their peril.

‘Every place in the UK began and grew with a purpose, whether linked to a natural resource, as a market town, around a fortification, government or religious institution, or as an industry developed.

‘Over time communities change and diversify, industries rise and fall and demographics alter. If we ignore the scale and pace of this change and fail to shape it, the risk of places and their residents being “left behind”, with all the economic and social cost that brings to the UK, can only increase.’

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