Cities have been epicenters of the global Covid-19 pandemic. While life for the public has changed immeasurably in just a few short months, urban authorities have also had to quickly respond to new challenges and responsibilities to keep their residents safe – often bringing them into conflict with national and state governments.

To discuss how the public and policymakers across the globe have adapted to the pressures of the pandemic, Andrew Carter is joined by resident experts from three cities:

  • CityMetric’s Editor Sommer Mathis, in New York City, USA
  • Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Salvador Adriana Campelo, in Salvador, Brazil
  • Centre for Cities’ Senior Analyst Kathrin Enenkel, in Berlin, Germany

Together they reflect on their own experiences in lockdown in cities across the world, and provide insight into how their city, state and national governments have handled the crisis.

The housing crisis remains one of the biggest challenges the UK faces. While many young people in high demand cities and towns struggle to afford decent accommodation, homeowners in parts of the Greater South East have gained vast amounts of housing wealth in recent years.

For this episode of City Minutes, Centre for Cities’ Housing Analyst Anthony Breach joins Andrew Carter to discuss his latest report Planning for the future: How flexible zoning will end the housing crisis.

Drawing concerning comparisons with the ‘shortage economies’ of the former Eastern Bloc, he argues that our discretionary, case-by-case planning system rations land, restricts the supply of new homes and decreases affordability. He calls for the UK to scrap this approach and adopt a flexible zoning system, as seen in countries such as Japan and parts of the USA.

While the representation (or lack) of women in the House of Commons is often discussed, female involvement at senior levels of local government and devolved urban authorities is rarely discussed. Perhaps as a result, there are currently no female metro mayors and just 21% of local authority leaders are female – often meaning that women and gender issues are frozen out of the local policy making process.

This week, Andrew Carter is joined by Professor Francesca Gains, Professor of Public Policy and Academic Co-Director of Policy@Manchester at the University of Manchester to discuss how having women in decision making positions and robust equalities legislation in place affects policymaking for the better.

Francesca highlights areas where there is significant under-representation of women, ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities, and explains how this plays out when forming the policy response, particularly in times of crisis.


Nowhere is feeling the economic and social impact of Coronavirus more than UK’s cities and largest towns. In under ten minutes, Senior Analysts Elena Magrini and Kathrin Enenkel explain why the economic impact of the pandemic will be bigger in some places than others.

Kathrin reveals the geographic spread of the jobs predicted to be the most and least affected, while Elena highlights where has seen the biggest increase in unemployment since lockdown began.

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.

Centre for Cities
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