Edinburgh celebrated for 'high wage, low welfare' economy

Edinburgh named one of the UK's 'high salary, low welfare' cities.

Cities Outlook 2016, the Centre’s annual health-check on the economies of the UK’s 63 largest cities, focuses this year on the Chancellor George Osborne’s vow to build a “higher wage, low-welfare” economy in Britain, as set out in the Summer Budget 2015.

The report reveals that more than 980,000 new jobs were created in UK cities between 2010-14, but that urban wages fell by 5% in the same period. Edinburgh appears to be bucking this trend and is witnessing both an upturn in jobs and higher than national average salaries.  

Councillor Frank Ross, Economy Convener, responded to the news. He said: “These figures highlight how Edinburgh’s skilled workforce is driving the performance of our local economy. Our jobs market is being boosted by enterprising business and high levels of investment and development in the city, but also schemes which ensure all of our young people have the opportunity of a job, further training or education. This is helping our unemployment rate to fall to a record low.

“In Edinburgh, the Council is a firm promoter of the Living Wage which is being adopted by firms across the Capital. Currently, 74% of the city’s working age population are currently in jobs and at just 1.1%, claimant rates for Job Seekers Allowance are lower than the national average.”

Commenting on the findings of Cities Outlook 2016, Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Cities Outlook 2016 highlights the size of the challenge facing the Government in building a high-wage, low-welfare economy, and the importance of supporting and empowering UK cities in order to make that vision a reality.

“One of the most pressing issues is the need to tackle skills-gaps and improve schools attainment, especially in low-wage cities, to help those places attract businesses and jobs, and support more people to move into work, particularly in high-skill sectors. This should be a key part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative alongside investment in infrastructure, and a top priority for local leaders. For cities which have seen strong growth in wages and jobs, the focus should be on addressing housing shortages, to ensure that their success isn’t derailed by a lack of affordable homes.

“Cities also need more powers and incentives to boost jobs and wages. Giving places control over skills and welfare budgets, and allowing them to keep any savings made by reducing the welfare bill, would incentivise local leaders to invest in employment programmes that, if successful, would reduce people’s need for benefits payments. Further devolution would also enable local leaders to make spending decisions which better meet the needs of their communities and give them more incentives to drive economic growth.” 

Find out more at Centre for Cities.  

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