In last year's Budget the Chancellor placed a large wager on our cities being able to deliver the growth he needs. His commitment to local growth was framed within a package of support for cities and city-regions and had an explicit purpose; to “increase the productivity of the five biggest city regions outside of London so that they matched UK average productivity", in turn leading to an apparent growth in UK GDP of £31 billion a year.
We should be careful not to bet the house purely on our cities. This is especially true in the light of an EU Referendum which saw our towns vote to Leave whilst cities voted to Remain. Economic models which fail to compute the social implications of such an approach should expect to continue to marginalise and anger the excluded. By the excluded, we of course mean the people of our towns. It’s a trend which we see regularly in our work, with our towns routinely described as left-behind or backward; its residents implicitly framed as ignorant or part of the problem.