City Growth Commission hopes to enable Birmingham to succeed in the global race for urban growth


At the end of October, a City Growth Commissionsupported by Core Cities – was launched by the Royal Society (see video), aimed at recommending policies to boost economic growth and offer ideas for political parties to consider as part of their plans for the post-2015 government.

 

jim o'neillManchester-born economist Jim O’Neill, its chair, is the retiring chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Group. Business Desk reports at length that CGC is to develop a practical plan for enabling cities to succeed in the global race for urban growth.

He notes in the Financial Times that many ‘successful’ countries – he lists China, Germany and the US – have a number of vibrant cities but the UK is dominated by London. Research he values finds that cities are at the centre of their countries’ economic fortunes and his yardstick for success appears to be the amount of building taking place – he feels encouraged by an 89% increase in building outside London.

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Previous ideas to stimulate regional economic growth – special incentives for business and advantageous tax rates – are set aside in favour of other policies, including:

 

  • improved infrastructure – though not planning to take a stance on the merits of the High Speed 2 north-south rail link
  • ominously – labour market flexibility,
  • better education (as in London)
  • and greater involvement of local citizens – a nod to localism?

 

Brummie Bonds?

Part of CGC’s research will look at the pros and cons of giving core cities powers to determine and activate their own funding needs for growth through financing initiatives such as local authority bond issuance.

Signs of change include calls for substantial devolution, and the government’s “city deals”, beginning to deliver more freedom for cities.

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