There has been a clear shift in government policy towards greater devolution of powers to cities and city regions, sparked by George Osborne’s June 2014 speech in Manchester, calling for a Northern Powerhouse: “Not one city, but a collection of northern cities—sufficiently close to each other that combined they can take on the world.”
A series of “city deals” between the government and local authorities has followed as the devolution agenda has rolled on. Alongside, the Government Office for Science had run a Foresight Project (including a series of events last year in Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol and Cambridge, jointly hosted with Prospect), intended to look 50 years into the future and ask what the cities of the future will be like and what conditions they will need to prosper. In order to discuss progress so far and look at the issues that lie ahead for the UK’s cities, Prospect recently assembled a group of experts from academia, public policy, politics, consultancy, industry and the financial sector for a wide-ranging round-table discussion.
A series of factors has conspired to bring devolution to regional cities to the forefront. Within England, London’s growth has left the national economy looking increasingly unbalanced. Seven of the eight leading English cities outside London now h…