There is an urgent need in the cities in the UK, especially in the north, for a new set of economic policies to kickstart local recovery.
The Treasury has no such plan. The cities themselves often believe they must wait patiently until the government, or the economic cycle, bails them out.
But a new economic agenda is emerging, borrowed often from the most successful cities in Europe and North and South America, which can effectively allow cities to take back control of their economic destiny. This is the outline of this agenda. It will vary between the places that put it into effect – that is the point – but the basic ideas are recognisable, and can be summed up in ten linked propositions:
Not all of these ideas can be organised tomorrow, at least not without central government support. Providing new kinds of quantitative easing and making it available to the regions is not something that local government can organise by itself. Getting the banks to fund a new community banking infrastructure – capable of supporting the small-medium enterprises market, as they do in the USA – depends at least on co-operation between the banks.
But the rest can all be done by imaginative and forward-looking city leaders, and can be done immediately, grasping the new powers of general competence that are being made available in the Localism Bill. All of these ideas have been put into practice somewhere. What has not happened so far is for enlightened local government to knit all these approaches together and claw their way out of recession by doing so. That is the challenge for them, and the challenge for us in the world of new economics, is how best to support them.
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