CAMBRIDGE City Council has welcomed the launch today of a report by the Centre for Cities think tank which illustrates the economic impact coronavirus has had on UK cities, and which proposes actions Government needs to take to ensure a strong recovery.
The report, ‘Cities Outlook 2021’ identifies how coronavirus has in many cases increased the economic challenges faced by cities, and increased inequality within and between those cities. As a consequence, the report suggests that the Government’s ambition to ‘level up’ the economy will be four times harder than before Covid-19.
Whilst acknowledging Cambridge’s continuing strengths in skills, innovation and housing delivery, the report makes recommendations on what needs to happen to ensure economic recovery both in the short term and longer term.
This includes extending the furlough payment scheme for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place; keeping the £20 universal credit increase and a proposal for a new voucher scheme to help the high street once it is safe to lift restrictions.
In the longer term the report suggests more investment in further education and job creation, particularly in low carbon skills; investment in transport infrastructure within urban areas and help to make cities attractive to businesses.
Welcoming the report, Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council said: “This report and the data that goes with it shines a powerful spotlight on the impact of coronavirus on our economy. Unemployment has more than doubled in Cambridge in the last year, from 1.6% to 4.1%, meaning around 3,500 people are out of work, while the number of Cambridge residents claiming Universal Benefit has also more than doubled, increasing by 2,100 compared to a year ago.
“This is likely to have had a worse impact on women, younger people and people in low paid or temporary work, the people who were already struggling the most.
“Businesses in Cambridge in the worst-affected sectors, such as hospitality and retail, have been innovative in finding new ways to do business online or via delivery. But we know many employees are still reliant on furlough and will need that to continue for as long as those businesses cannot safely re-open.
“Supporting the recovery of our city centre hospitality and tourism-based businesses will be a focus in Cambridge in 2022-24. And we strongly support the Centre for Cities’ call for skills funding to be directed to help young people learn the skills to deliver a green recovery and transformation, for instance in retrofitting existing buildings to be more energy efficient, or in generating new clean energy.
“We also agree with the report’s call for sustained investment in clean, sustainable transport in city areas, including public transport, walking and cycling and infrastructure such as Cambridge South Station and East-West rail.”
The Centre for Cities is also working on a new report which will focus particularly on Cambridge and its partner Fast Growing Cities (Norwich, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Swindon and Peterborough), due to be launched in February. This will give even more detail on the strengths of these cities’ economies, the challenges facing them and what can be done to ensure sustainable growth.
Read the full Centre for Cities report 'Cities Outlook 2021' at https://www.centreforcities.org/publication/cities-outlook-2021/