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Digest: UK cities lag behind continental counterparts

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UK cities must act urgently on their low levels of skills, productivity and innovation compared with their European neighbours.

That warning has from the Centre for Cities think-tank which looked at 330 cities in 17 countries.

In its Competing with the Continent report, Centre for Cities found the UK economy was notably urbanised with its cities accounting for 60% of the UK’s economic output, against only 36% and 32% for Germany and Italy respectively.

Most cities though fell below the European urban average for skills, productivity and innovation - the worst performance being in productivity, where 90% of UK cities were below average.

Out of 63 UK cities examined, 39 were in the least productive quartile of cities across the continent.

The report said 48 UK cities had a lower proportion of high-skilled residents than the European average, while only Cambridge and Oxford were in the European top 20 for innovation.

The UK economy was also centralised relying heavily on a few cities for growth, with London accounting for 25% of its economic output.

This exceeded Paris’ 20% contribution to the French economy and was vastly greater than Berlin’s 4% of the German economy.

Centre for Cities chief executive Alexandra Jones said: “No other economy in Europe is so dependent on the performance of its cities, yet too many of the UK’s urban areas are failing to realise their potential.

“For the country to thrive in the years to come, it’s vital that the government works with cities to address the skills and productivity gaps holding most places back.”

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