SCDI submitted a response in May 2017 to the Scottish Parliament's Committee for Local Government & Communities - Call for Evidence on City Region Deals.

The financial crash widened the view that the UK needed to be rebalanced economically and sectorally. The UK is unusual in that its largest city is far larger than its next largest city regions and nearly all of its second tier cities have lower GDP per capita than the national average. This relatively weak performance was understood to be related to the relatively high levels of centralisation within the UK, which SCDI first raised as an issue in the late 1960s but which became ever more pronounced from the 1980s. Following devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, attempts at decentralisation within England from the late 1990s had, generally, been unsuccessful in gaining public support.

Around the world, cities have increasingly been recognised as key drivers of economic growth. Therefore, for the UK to raise its national growth and as well as spread economic and social prosperity, action to increase growth in its cities outwith London was believed to be essential. Manchester had shown the potential for a city region to work together turn around its economic prospects through a long-term vision and public and private sector leadership and partnerships. This was the basis of the City Deal programme. In Scotland, there was concern about post-devolution centralisation and a lack of a cities policy for intracity and regional travel-to-work priorities. For instance, feedback to SCDI has suggested that opportunities to promote the diverse strengths of Scotland's city regions to national and international investors are being missed - although the development by the Scottish Cities Alliance of the City Investment Plans and investment prospectus has enabled Scottish Development International to raise the profile of this work.

As they have evolved, City Region Deals typically seek to utilise the power that cities hold in attracting global and national innovative and productive firms, highly skilled and entrepreneurial people and investment in order to strengthen the competitiveness of a particular area. The city region approach gives additional focus to stakeholders and partners within a defined geographic area to draw together vision and policies aimed at improving productivity, creating investment incentives and generating an internal competitive tension that can positively impact service delivery and economic performance. They can also target the specific needs of an area brought about by historical deficits in infrastructure that may have limited economic growth.

You can read SCDI's full Response via the right hand menu.