#economy Archives | Owen Davies Consulting

Does granting City Status have a measurable impact on economic performance?

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Announced by the Cabinet Office in June, the Civic Honours Contest will see winning towns granted City Status for the first time in ten years, during May 2022.

In total there have been three rounds of applications for city status since 2000 – one to celebrate the Millennium and two for the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees respectively. Across these three competitions, a total of 48 towns in Great Britain have applied for city status and 9 towns granted the honour.

Towns awarded City Status

Although almost all towns that apply for City Status believed becoming a city would stimulate the economy and support regeneration, there’s very little published evidence of a measurable economic boost as a consequence of becoming a city. Research undertaken by Reading University (Reading has submitted three unsuccessful City Status applications) suggests the linking of City Status to economic success is mixed. For every place that experiences growth after becoming a city, there are others that don’t see direct economic benefits.

Working alongside Hardisty Jones Associates, we have been appointed by a Local Authority to investigate the economic benefits and disbenefits of being awarded City Status and we are keen to identify the measurable benefits that have been recorded in the UK.

City Status doesn’t come with any fiscal levers like tax breaks or extra powers, and with less than decisive evidence, our study has been commissioned precisely to investigate the economic impacts.

Even though the Governments guidance lacks detail, the competition application form is clear that an award will be made in recognition of historic and current achievements, associations, and civic status with no mention of future economic growth and performance. It seems that a town’s historical importance (and Royal connections), its role as a centre of government and culture, current economic strength are more important in becoming a city than future growth.

We are interested to hear of examples you may know of measurable impact on the economic performance following the award of City Status.

Carmarthenshire’s economic recovery plan

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Plans for Carmarthenshire’s economic recovery, which aim to safeguard and create jobs, support businesses and bolster the local economy over the next two years, have been approved by Carmarthenshire County Council. The Council has also backed up the plan with a significant financial commitment in support of business and the regeneration of the local community.

Owen Davies Consulting alongside economy specialist Hardisty Jones Associates modelled the future direction of the economic and prepared the plan after detailed assessments of the short, medium and long-term impacts of the pandemic alongside Brexit.

The recovery strategy focuses efforts on 11 key themes, with emphasis on maximising opportunities for local businesses and growing the economy.

It sets out the authority’s aims to help businesses replace more than 3,000 jobs that have already been lost during the pandemic and safeguarding and replacing up to 10,000 jobs that may have been, or are at high risk of being, lost when furlough comes to an end.

The council has also planned how it will support more than 1,400 businesses that are at risk of insolvency and the creation of about 1,700 jobs that would have been generated if Carmarthenshire’s economy had stayed on its pre-pandemic growth trajectory.

Four key priorities have also been identified, including a major focus on ensuring the county has ultra-reliable digital connectivity, digital culture and skills.

The Plan is ambitious about the long-term future of the Carmarthenshire economy with a belief that the county has the right mix of business, people and places to recover and grow much stronger than before. Carmarthenshire’s underlying strength is the large number of self-employed and micro businesses and the equally important number employed in the foundational economy. The Plan will focus on supporting our SME’s to upscale, and the local knowledge and connections with small businesses in Carmarthenshire means that it is well placed to bolster support within the local economies, increase local spend and maximise the potential for a more localised growth in community wealth and wellbeing.

In the short-term, attention will be focused on the food sector and supply chains that are suffering significantly alongside hospitality sector closures.

Alongside the economic recovery plan, Carmarthenshire County Council has launched over £5m package of business and regeneration support  for businesses, people and places in response to the economic recovery.

Contact Owen Davies if you would like to discuss the regeneration and economic recover of your area. owen @owendaviesconsulting.co.uk

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If you prefer then send an email to Owen Davies at owen@owendaviesconsulting.co.uk