Talking trade-offs

Deliberations on a higher-productivity future in the Birmingham and Greater Manchester urban areas


The cities of Manchester and Birmingham may have illustrious economic histories, but today both underperform the national average on a number of key economic measures. This is especially the case when it comes to productivity growth. Accelerating productivity in each city region would require radical reforms trade-offs to be made, but these changes cannot be … Continued

The Big Brexit

An assessment of the scale of change to come from Brexit


Leaving the EU represents the largest change in the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world in nearly half a century. It is a profound change in economic governance, that will reorient production away from trade with the EU and towards the domestic market, impacting people, places and firms across the UK. Understanding the … Continued

Right Where You Left Me?

Analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on local economies in the UK


Now that the Covid-19 pandemic is largely behind us, this report, part of the Economy 2030 Inquiry, considers what might be the long-term impacts of Covid-19 on spatial inequalities across the UK in key economic outcomes.  In contrast to the initial fears that Covid could permanently damage our cities (by removing office workers, with the … Continued

All over the place

Perspectives on local economic prosperity


The place where one is born, educated and works can have a profound bearing on one’s living standards. But how do people who live in different types of places experience their local area and want it to change? In April 2022, we ran four focus groups in Yorkshire and the Humber to explore this question. … Continued

Local differences

Responding to the local economic impact of coronavirus


Britain’s jobs crisis has hit every part of the country hard. At a headline regional level, job loss and furloughing has been fairly evenly spread. But increases in unemployment-related benefit claims have been larger in areas that started out with higher claimant rates, with this especially true when we focus at a more local level. … Continued

Living standards
Inequality & poverty
Cities and regions
Political parties and elections

Painting the towns blue

Demography, economy and living standards in the political geographies emerging from the 2019 General Election


This report provides an audit of the demography, economy and living standards of what we term the ‘Blue Wall’: the 50 seats that were gained by the Conservatives from Labour in the North East and West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East and West Midlands, and Wales. We explore whether simplistic characterisations of the Blue … Continued

The long and winding road

The introduction and impact of Universal Credit in Liverpool City Region and the UK


Universal Credit (UC) – the fundamental re-design of Britain’s welfare system involving merging six benefits into one – is an enormous undertaking. This report reviews both the national UC picture and the experience in Liverpool City Region in particular.

Mapping gaps

Geographic inequality in productivity and living standards


Regional inequality is a hot topic, particularly since the EU referendum exposed huge voting divides between London, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the rest of the UK. This report examines the relative economic performance of UK regions and nations since the 1960s, and the extent to which this has driven differences in household living standards.

London Stalling: Half a century of living standards in London


London’s post-crisis recovery has been similar to that of the rest of the country, in good and bad terms.The city now has an employment rate in line with the UK average but productivity and pay growth have both been sluggish. Where London is unique is that it has a number of looming problems – demographic change, high living costs and inequality – which make the city a particularly challenging place for those on low-incomes.

A rising tide lifts all boats? Advanced industries and their impact upon living standards


Policy makers in Westminster, devolved administrations, cities and local authorities struggle with many of the same challenges. Encouraging economic growth is vital but so too is ensuring the prosperity created is evenly shared. After a long absence, industrial strategy is back on the agenda as a way of providing this inclusive growth. The cornerstone of … Continued

A western union: living standards and devolution in the West of England


This May, voters in the West of England elect a Metro Mayor, with new powers over transport, skills and welfare-to-work policies, as well as the chance to bring economic leadership to their area. The area – comprising Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire – has outperformed most other city regions on a … Continued

Forging ahead or falling behind? Devolution and the future of living standards in the Sheffield City Region


This report outlines some of the key living standards facing the Sheffield City Region. Worryingly the delay to devolution means that local leaders will have fewer powers than their counterparts elsewhere to address these. As a result it is important for the current impasse in the devolution process to be resolved. Assuming that that the shape … Continued

Midlands engine trouble: The challenges facing the West Midlands Combined Authority


In May 2017, residents of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will go to the polls to elect its first ‘Metro Mayor’. The WMCA – comprising Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils – is also at the heart of the government’s wider ‘Midlands Engine’, which aims to boost the economy of this … Continued

New Order: devolution and the future of living standards in Greater Manchester


In May 2017 Greater Manchester will go to the polls to elect the region’s first ‘Metro Mayor’. Greater Manchester has been at the forefront of the current programme of devolution and the new mayor will wield more power than any other city leader. However, it will be on the results of how this power is … Continued

City living: devolution and the living standards challenge


Significant devolution is planned for Britain’s major city regions. The powers that may soon be devolved are, in terms of recent history if not international comparisons, unprecedented in scope. In May 2017 some cities will elect a region-wide Mayor which will provide fresh political impetus. Furthermore, Theresa May’s new government has signalled her support for … Continued

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