There’s More to Britain than London: Focus on Regions, Advises Think-Tank

Low investment in the UK’s regional cities is hindering economic growth and the country’s G7 status, report warns.

A lack of investment in regional British cities has hampered economic growth, resulting in lower living standards than in the US, France, or Germany.

London

That’s according to a report released ahead of the 50th G7 summit in Fasano, southern Italy. The Centre of Cities think-tank found that the primary difference between the UK and its peers was low productivity in cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Cities of a similar size outside Paris and Berlin fare far better when measured by output per worker, per hour. Investment is more evenly distributed across the US, too, where cities thrive thanks to targeted financial support and initiatives.

Lyon and Frankfurt rank higher than Birmingham and Manchester by these metrics , affecting the UK’s standing among G7 economies. Britain remains a “middle-ranking” country — but is still ahead of Canada, Italy, and Japan in terms of output per hour.

Reaching the Summit

The pre-G7 report said London is “no longer consistent” in terms of source-of-income and wealth for the rest of the country — increasing the vulnerability of regional areas. The British government has been urged to adopt a broader investment strategy to improve digital strengths.

Laura Lodwick, chief of hub operations for development organisation AND Digital said regional investment was vital for national economic prosperity. “Technology, in particular, can open up new opportunities to help distribute wealth and help local communities to thrive,” she said. “A major contributor to the regional gap is that many digitally skilled people move away from their local communities to London to pursue a career. The incoming government, local councils, and regional businesses need a strategy to retain talent.”

Digital skills in burgeoning areas such as generative AI play a crucial role in empowerment of citizens, says Lodwick. “Education and local training are important to reskill and upskill the regions. Skills training should form part of retention strategies for local businesses, offering constant opportunities that lead towards career progression.

“Technology has no boundaries, it’s not just restricted to London. It’s time to show off what the rest of the UK has to offer.”


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