Back to top

A new commission has been launched to unlock the potential of people and businesses in the UK’s major cities and the role they could play in Levelling Up.

The UK Urban Future Commission has been created by Core Cities UK and the Royal Society for Arts (RSA). It will produce practical policy recommendations for enhancing the success of the UK’s cities in improving the wealth, health and happiness of residents and the surrounding city region and becoming globally competitive with cities around the world.

The RSA is a global network of more than 30,000 entrepreneurs, educators and innovators who have been working together for over 260 years to advance society, the economy, and the environment.

Core Cities UK is an alliance of 11 cities - Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. Its mission is to unlock the full potential of city regions to create a stronger, fairer economy and society.

Speaking at the Commission's launch in London, Chair of Core Cities UK, Mayor of Bristol and co-chair of the Commission Marvin Rees will say:

"We live in an era of increasing urbanisation, and it is becoming clear that cities hold the keys to the problems that national governments struggle with. The UK is an international outlier. It is one of the most centralised countries in the developed world when it comes to transport, housing, skills, education, and business policy, with major decisions taken hundreds of miles away from the people whose lives they affect.

“As we face multiple, competing and interlocked crises, now is the time for us to seize the potential of UK cities, giving them greater local control when it comes to making sure they are fairer, safer and more sustainable. The Government knows that urban areas are a vital part of Levelling Up the country - this commission will show how the right policies can make a huge difference.

“The commission will also ask what cities are, what do we need them to be and how do we get them there?”

The UK Urban Future Commission will be co-chaired by The RSA’s CEO, Andy Haldane, who also chairs the Government’s Levelling Up Advisory Council.

Andy Haldane will say: "We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Core Cities UK to launch this commission at this crucial moment. The UK’s main cities have flourished over recent years. But first Covid and now the cost-of-living crises have darkened economic prospects for many cities. There are huge amounts of pent-up energy still to be released. So, what better time to release those energies to stimulate growth and jobs, locally and nationally, at this difficult moment, while at the same time hitting our net zero commitments.  With the launch of today’s commission, we aim to provide an action plan for doing just that. We will engage across the length and breadth of the UK to move UK cities from good to great, making them green, prosperous and globally competitive places to live and work.”

The UK Urban Future Commission team has already begun gathering evidence from senior figures across the UK economic landscape and will hold a series of evidence sessions and run closer analysis of activities in specific cities. The commission will also have a strong focus on citizen engagement, making sure people who live in the eleven Core Cities have a strong voice.

The year-long commission will hold further evidence gathering sessions across the UK before publishing a short Action Plan in the Autumn of 2023.

Core Cities UK and the RSA plan to ensure that the UK Urban Future Commission will lead to decisive action – nationally by governments in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont and locally by citizens, cities and their partners, to deliver change on some of the biggest challenges they face