Resolution Foundation

Talking trade-offs

Deliberations on a higher-productivity future in the Birmingham and Greater Manchester urban areas

The cities of Manchester and Birmingham may have illustrious economic histories, but today both underperform the national average on a number of key economic measures. This is especially the case when it comes to productivity growth. Accelerating productivity in each city region would require radical reforms trade-offs to be made, but these changes cannot be imposed without consent. Without popular engagement and support, local leaders will likely find implementing a long-term vision for growth a very tough gig indeed.

To explore this further, in the June and July of 2023 we ran deliberative public engagement processes with residents of Greater Manchester and Birmingham urban area, bringing together a broadly representative group of 30 residents from each city region to discuss and debate what they think is needed if their areas are to truly prosper. This report presents the results of these workshops.

We found that the vast majority of participants understood the case for change, and agreed that growth is a necessary condition for widespread improvement in living standards. However, they also agreed that growth must go alongside a need to ensure that work is well paid and working conditions are good; providing an adequate safety net for those on the lowest incomes; and building enough homes at the right price point. The participants’ deliberations also demonstrated that there is a critical job to be done to repair the social contract that promises we will all gain as the national economy grows.

Ultimately, they made it clear that the public will only get behind a strategy for productivity growth if their trust is gained and retained along the way.

What our participants said

In June and July 2023, we ran deliberative workshops with residents of Greater Manchester and Birmingham to explore whether there is a programme of wholesale change that could drive up productivity that the public feel happy to endorse. This is what they said.

For all research queries about this report, please contact Lindsay Judge. For press queries, please contact the Resolution Foundation press office.

Lindsay Judge
Research Director,
Resolution Foundation
Email Lindsay