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Enhancing Productivity in UK Core Cities: Connecting Local and Regional Growth, calls for a suite of wide-ranging policy measures that will boost productivity in both towns and cities, linking their economies to create business, jobs and wage growth. 

The report shows that despite recent progress, the UK has a highly centralised fiscal system, which limits the ability of Core Cities to reach their full economic potential.

It also makes clear that towns and cities are mutually reliant, not economic islands, and that strengthening the links between them will further boost growth, particularly across city regions.

OECD Policy Highlights Document  


Core Cities Response




Among the OECD’s recommendations to Government are:

  • Continue devolution to local authorities across the UK, allowing them to plan spending more strategically over longer periods.
  • Grow and attract more high productive business sectors by raising skills levels, investing in transport, housing and other infrastructure. 
  • Increase the number of people in work by connecting health and employment programmes, and reducing childcare costs – the UK has some of the highest     in the OECD.
  • Regulate public transport giving city regions the powers to set bus fares and timetables.

This report’s recommendations represent a once in a generation chance to make the UK a more prosperous and more productive place.


Core Cities UK Cabinet member and Leader of Newcastle City Council Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “This report’s recommendations represent a once in a generation chance to make the UK a more prosperous and more productive place.

"As the report makes clear, our city regions and their networks of towns and cities have unusually low levels of productivity by international standards. Our economy is missing out on billions of pounds every year that could change the lives of millions living outside of London.

"But this report is about more than just big numbers and big cities. It is about how we can produce a prosperous and fair economy for our citizens regardless of where they live. Decentralising the UK will help raise productivity. We must continue our devolution journey and accelerate the pace.”


Among the report's findings are:

  • Productivity in Core Cities city regions is low by national and international standards. Larger cities in other large OECD countries have productivity levels that are as high as or higher than the national average, but in the UK the gross value added per worker of Core Cities is only 86 per cent of the UK average.



  • Given their size, location and assets, such as high-quality universities and excellent digital infrastructure, Core Cities city regions have the potential to drive the UK economy forward.
  • Beter integrating towns and cities through networked economies is a ‘win-win’ for the UK. Towns and villages can reap the productivity benefits of bigger cities and cities can experience productivity gains because of the economic weight that surrounding places can bring. 
  • Core Cities has made significant progress over recent years as hubs for innovation and excellence, despite a challenging economic environment and reductions to funding.
  • Cities can deliver more and that more effective devolution is key to the UK’s future success, adding that fiscal decentralisation needs to go hand-in-hand with administrative decentralisation, for example in areas like transport and skills.