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City growth restricted by outdated infrastructure

Outdated infrastructure and over-centralised decision making is restricting city growth, particularly in the north of England, and costing the UK billions of pounds, a new report from the RSA City Growth Commission has claimed.

In its third report, the Commission has called for a revamp of transport, housing and broadband provision, with the priority on connections between northern cities.

The Connected Cities: The Link to Growth study concludes that UK has chronically underinvested in infrastructure, trailing that of other leading global economies.

The City Growth Commission suggests that the government should give freedom to individual cities to operate as “whole systems” so they can have more say in making decisions in the best interests of their areas, rather than relying on central decision-making on infrastructure investment.

Commission Chair Jim O Neill said: “We recommend the government considers making two bold decisions regarding its infrastructure policy. The first is to provide metros with a strong, powerful voice that can influence and guide decision making at a national level.

“For too long, our cities have not had a seat at the table, and this has been to the detriment of northern metros in particular, as well as the economic growth of the UK economy as a whole. The second is to place connectivity between metros at the heart of any infrastructure investment, in particular via multiple transport links between cities and better broadband technology.

“Whilst the UK is starting to move in the right direction – with the creation of Infrastructure UK and the Chancellor’s recent proposal for a connected ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – there is still some way to go.”

As well as looking at its plans for physical infrastructure, the Commission has recommended that the government should commission a comprehensive review on how the country’s current and future needs for digital infrastructure can be met, especially in the face of strict EU State Aid rules and a highly concentrated high-speed broadband market.

To view the full report, click here.

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