We're launching our annual index today - Cities Outlook shows that the recession has widened the gap between our most prosperous cities (e.g. Cambridge) and struggling cities like Hull. Basically, those cities that were doing badly pre-recession have been hit the hardest.
The UK is just about moving out of recession now. But the recovery is going to be very uneven. Private sector jobs growth will be the key - with less public cash around, cities will need to generate more of their own jobs.
Cities like Brighton and Milton Keynes will bounce back quite well - because they have a strong business base and high-skilled workers. But Burnley and Stoke face a much tougher outlook - they were losing private sector jobs, even in the good times before the recession, and have far too many low-skilled adults. It will still feel like a recession in these cities, for a long time yet.
Today, we're calling on all three party leaders to focus on these struggling cities. The next Government will need a credible plan to support Burnley, Stoke, Barnsley, etc over the next Parliament (at least). That means fixing the basics - ensuring that school performance is improving, adult skills training is right, and public transport is in place to link people to jobs.
We're getting loads of coverage today:
- The Independent compares Hull with Brighton - and the Indie Editorial calls for "a serious strategy to correct Britain's uneven pattern of regional economic development".
And BBC News.
Off to the launch now, at City Hall in London - where I'll be interviewing Vince Cable. More on that later.