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New report stresses links between cities and towns

Struggling cities can have a negative effect on nearby towns and villages, according to a new study.

The study by the think tank Centre for Cities, entitled Talk of the Town, claims the economies of cities and towns are intrinsically linked and when a city prospers, nearby towns are more likely to be successful.

In particular, it argues that towns close to highly productive cities perform better in terms of attracting high-skilled business investment, jobs and firms.

These towns also have lower unemployment rates, according to the report.

‘This is good news for those towns located close to successful cities which benefit from their success,’ the report states.

‘But this research shows that the underperformance of a number of cities is bad news not just for that city’s residents and the national economy overall, but for the residents in towns around them too,’

‘This poor performance restricts the employment opportunities cities are able to offer the residents of their neighbouring towns, and it reduces the town’s chances of attracting in higher-skilled, better-paid work,’ it adds.

The report also states that cities are home to 55% of businesses and 60% of jobs, which has a number of implications for people who do not live in a city.

It adds that cities provided jobs for more than one in five working residents living outside cities in 2011.

And due to their larger markets, cities are able to support specialisms in health, education, arts and entertainment activities that people living in nearby towns and rural areas are able to benefit from.

In order to help rural and urban economies develop and prevent some towns from becoming ‘left behind’, the report calls for a focus on improving skills across the country.

It adds cities need to recognise the role they play in their wider local economies and national economy and there needs to be more devolution, so cities and their surrounding areas can respond to their specific needs.

‘For many struggling towns, their problems are linked to the underperformance of their closest city,’ the report adds.

‘A response to the problems of towns cannot just be town focused, nor can it ignore the causes of the underperformance of their nearest cities.’

The full report is available to read on the Centre for Cities website.

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