Big-ticket projects will not solve the country’s economic dividesby Andrew Carter / August 29, 2017 / Leave a comment
Any day now, the government is expected to announce its decision on whether it will move Channel 4 operations out of London, as promised in its recent general election manifesto—with cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield all in the race to become the station’s new home.
The pledge is a key part of the government’s plans for its upcoming industrial strategy, which it hopes will address one of the longest-standing issues in British politics—how to rebalance the national economy, or build “an economy that works for everyone,” to borrow one of Theresa May’s election slogans.
One of the most direct tools politicians have to tackle this problem is the ability to move public sector jobs around the country—hence the government’s plans for Channel Four (and its parallel manifesto promise to move other senior civil servant jobs out of the capital).
And with up to 800 jobs potentially up for grabs, it’s unsurprising that cities across the country are eager to be selected. With all of them making excitable claims of the “genuinely transformative” impact that moving the station could have both culturally and economically should they be successful.
However, a recent Centre for Cities report suggests that these places should not get too carried away about the economic benefits of hosting Channel Four—and that in particular, the impact on employment is unlikely to be significant beyond the jobs that the station would bring directly.