Many expect the Coronavirus pandemic to bring about a working from home revolution. But while technology means that some work can be done anywhere, cities remain the setting for allowing the face-to-face economy to function.

What is it about face-to-face interaction that means firms are willing to pay eye-watering rents to locate in city centres? What aspects behaviour cannot be replicated online? And will the initial decision by some firms to allow more home-working last beyond the pandemic?

This week, Andrew Carter is joined by Jonathan Reades, Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography at King's College London and Martin Crooktson, strategic planning consultant and former member of the Urban Task Force, to discuss face-to-face interaction and why cities still matter in the information age.

The economy now faces its most difficult period in living memory and one in five jobs in large cities and towns could be lost or furloughed. This puts people with higher levels of household debt in particularly precarious situations.

Latest research by Kanishka Narayan, Associate at Centre for Cities, found that people in large cities and towns in Northern England and Wales have the most household debt and will be hit hardest in the economic downturn.

Kanishka joins Chief Executive Andrew Carter for a ten minute debrief to talk about the recent analysis that looked at where problem debt is concentrated geographically and the implications for policy.

The pandemic and lockdown has left millions unemployed or furloughed on the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. Unemployment levels are widely expected to rise to historic highs and at a rate not seen for at least a generation.

Many have lauded the Government’s response so far, but how long will it take for the economy to recover, given the imperfections of the UK’s labour market going into this recession?

Tony Wilson, Director at the Institute for Employment Studies, joins Andrew Carter to discuss the state of the labour market, the government response to the immediate crisis, and how to move to the next phase of the recovery.

As people become more used to working from home, many employers are now reconsidering their established working practices and potentially shifting towards a future where the traditional office plays a less central role.

But is this shift feasible in the long-term?

To discuss this, Andrew Carter is joined by Dr Neil Lee, Associate Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics. Neil draws on his extensive research looking at the relationship between science, creativity and innovation to examine the interplay between the creative and non-creative sectors and how they foster innovation.

They also discuss the present Coronavirus pandemic. Neil concludes that while is will change how we use cities, face-to-face working still matters as a means to foster innovation.

He acknowledges support from the AHRC Policy and Evidence Centre for the Creative Industries for this.

The Covid-19 pandemic has completely altered urban life. From San Francisco to Seoul hundreds of millions of city dwellers have faced restrictions to their day-to-day lives, with huge economic and social consequences.

In this episode of City Talks Andrew Carter is joined by Professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to discuss what the future holds for cities after the immediate effects of Coronavirus have passed, including:

  • How will professional and social life in cities change in the near future?
  • Will the virus exacerbate existing socioeconomic divides?
  • What are the prospects for more devolution now central government has grown significantly in many countries?

Further resources:

Although the housing crisis has spurred great efforts from central and local government to end the shortage and build more homes, housing remains unaffordable in many cities and large towns. While there is now a good understanding of which cities and towns build the most – and the fewest – homes, much less attention is given to exactly where in cities new homes are being built, and why.

Andrew Carter is joined by Anthony Breach, Analyst at Centre for Cities, and Ivan Tennant, Associate Planning Director at GL Hearn, to discuss a new report looking at the role of suburbs in solving the housing crisis.

As cities across the world struggle to respond to the the coronavirus outbreak, how might they strengthen their resilience in the face of this deadly pandemic, and other long-term social and economic disruptions?

Lina Liakou is Managing Director for EMEA for Global Resilient Cities Network and a former Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki – Greece’s second largest city. She joins Chief Executive Andrew Carter to discuss the concept of urban resilience and shares expert insights into how cities are beginning to respond to Covid-19.

The underperformance of big cities is at the heart of the North-South divide. If the Government is to ‘level up’ the economy then it needs to tackle this major economic problem.

Director of Policy and Research Paul Swinney joins Andrew Carter to discuss findings from Centre for Cities research into productivity in UK cities and the role that they should play in levelling up the UK.

After years of speculation and debate, the Government has given the go-ahead to HS2 — Britain’s biggest infrastructure project for a generation that promises to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and level up towns and cities across the UK.

Professor Tony Travers, Director of LSE London was a member of the influential Oakervee Review that advised the Government on whether to proceed with the project or scrap it.

He joins Andrew Carter to discuss his experience on the panel and the challenge of conducting an objective cost-benefit analysis for such a controversial project.

Clusters such as Silicon Valley are liked by policymakers for many reasons. They are visible, often prestigious, and are effectively cities in miniature. They take the things that make urban economies work and amplify and concentrate them in a particular place.
London's Tech City programme was launched in 2010 to accelerate its tech cluster in Shoreditch and, by 2014, the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson was hailing it a huge success.
But did the policy have any effect? And how might you approach evaluation when there are no like-for-like comparators?
For this episode of City Talks, Dr Max Nathan joins Andrew Carter to discuss his recent paper 'Does light touch cluster policy work? Evaluating the Tech City programme'.

Centre for Cities
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