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New research finds that deprived cities are falling further behind

British towns and cities given urban policy funding to bring them up to the national economic standard are actually declining relative to the national average when judged by a whole range of indices.

That is the conclusion of Cities limited, a report by the thinktank Policy Exchange, led by Dr Tim Leunig, lecturer in economic history at LSE.

The report calls into question the value of the large number of urban regeneration schemes delivered by a host of different agencies. Spending on the 14 core urban regeneration schemes in the last decade totals £30bn of public money.

The research team examined the overall impact of urban policy funding on a representative sample of 18 British towns and cities including Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Southampton, Coventry, Leicester and Glasgow which have been in receipt of substantial urban renewal funding streams over the last decade. These 'urban policy towns' were judged against the national average and a smaller sample set of successful towns - Edinburgh, Windsor-Maidenhead, Peterborough, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Swindon.

Key findings:

  • Urban policy cities have become economically worse off relative to the national average
  • Urban policy cities offer fewer opportunities
  • People are leaving urban policy cities and moving to successful cities
  • Education, health and entrepreneurship levels have not improved

Dr Leunig said: 'Over the past decade struggling towns have fallen further behind the nation as a whole. Regeneration just isn't happening. Only if we face up to this reality can we hope to devise policies that will work.'

Professor Paul Cheshire, professor of economic geography at LSE, commented on the paper, stating: 'They persuasively argue that recent urban policy has had no real impact.'

The research team also found that urban policy towns are showing no signs of improvement in terms of other indicators such as house prices, business start-ups, life expectancy or educational attainment relative to the national levels.



Dr Tim Leunig, by calling 0207 7955 7857 or by emailing t.leunig@lse.ac.uk|

Dr Steven King, External Relations Director, Policy Exchange on 07774 276783 or by emailing steven.king@policyexchange.org.uk| 

8 November 2007