1. Governance
July 18, 2017

Here are five things our cities can do to make the UK a fairer, stronger place

By Judith Blake

Now is a crucial time for our nation. While national politicians at Westminster are distracted by in-fighting and Brexit, it is cities that need to get on with the job, creating a fairer and stronger UK.

That’s why Core Cities UK has just launched a Green Paper setting out a raft of radical, but practical policy proposals designed to make our economy and society work for everyone. The Green Paper, launched in Manchester this morning at a roundtable featuring business leaders and industry bodies from across the UK, calls for government to let cities and their people raise UK productivity and make sure economic growth benefits everyone.

To achieve a positive Brexit and address social and economic challenges, the UK needs its cities to perform like never before: to raise living standards, productivity and create high quality places that foster strong communities.

This Green Paper is a demonstration of our commitment and our leadership to create a stronger, fairer Britain. We call on Government to back us, work with us and unlock the potential of city economies and their greatest assets, their people.

Key to our document is our strong belief that one-size fits all policy solutions simply don’t deal with the complexities of 21st century Britain. We need a place-based approach that looks at challenges and solutions in a different way, leaving behind the false divide between economic and social policy.

We also need to invest in our public services, particularly proactive ones that prevent later problems and costs; reform our state so it concentrates more on local issues; and trust cities and the people within them to deliver for our nation.

Our Green paper contains several big ideas. Here are five:

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  • Shortages of decent, affordable housing is a problem across our cities. We need bespoke city housing deals to increase supply and quality of homes.
  • Our employers often can’t find the right people to fill vacancies. We need a ‘whole system’ approach to skills, education and employment, with greater involvement from local democratic and business leadership.
  • Our cities have great products and ideas that could be doing more for Britain. Core Cities should be involved in more international trade missions and government should push an urban trade and investment programme to possible investors.
  • We have some great job creating projects that are ready to go, but need that last bit of key investment. We want government to provide funding for ‘shovel ready’ key infrastructure projects across regeneration, transport, office and retail.
  • Students are a fantastic asset to our cities, but we think it’s unfair that cities are often left with the bill. We need an open debate between cities, universities and government on how the costs of high student populations can be met.

This is a Green Paper, so we would welcome your views. Visit our website to contribute.

Cllr Judith Blake is leader of Leeds City Council.

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