CAMBRIDGE City Council has responded to a new report by think tank, The Centre for Cities (CfC), which has confirmed that Cambridge is the most innovative city in the UK, with five times more patents per head than the next best city.
Linked to this is the fact that Cambridge has the most highly skilled workforce in the country, and one of the fastest growing private sectors.
The report, “Cities Outlook 2016”, also shows Cambridge scoring highly for productivity, new house building rate, net tax generated for Treasury, and on scientific discovery and patents, and with good progress also on broadband coverage and reducing local carbon emissions.
Cambridge City Council has welcomed the report and the evidence it provides of the city’s continuing creativity.
However, the report identifies housing as the biggest ongoing challenge for Cambridge. Average house prices, at £469,650 in 2015 were up by 12.5%, rising faster than any other UK city. Average house prices were 15.9 times average wages in 2015, making Cambridge the third least affordable city. Key conclusions from the (CfC) analysis for last year’s data include that Cambridge:
- has a real challenge on affordable housing despite building homes faster than anywhere else. Cambridge’s housing stock grew by 2.6% in 2013/14 compared to 1.2% in the next fastest growing UK city;
- is the biggest ‘powerhouse’ for its size outside London on scientific innovation with more than five times as many new patents per person than the net best city outside London;
- is one of the country’s highest net contributors to the public purse, producing strong added value per worker while also having lowest welfare support per head, assisted by 77.5% being in work, making Cambridge the third highest city in Britain for employment; Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “The Centre for Cities report gives invaluable extra insights into our great city, with the key local message being about housing.
“If the government don’t want to damage our city and Greater Cambridge prosperity, they must act on our repeated pleas for freedom to build more affordable homes for rent.
“As the CfC analysis states, we have rapidly rising house prices and rents despite building housing at more than twice the rate of any city in Britain, adding 2.6% annually to housing stock each year recently compared to a highest of 1.2% anywhere else.
“Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire, Britain and also Treasury will all be massive losers if we don’t build more homes for rent.
“We need government policy to require developers to build them as well as market housing also on sites already given permission.
“Cambridge is generating high growth and tax takes, while too often suffering the lowest Government funding per head due to bias in national funding and that needs sorting too.
“The failure to recognise that every new home currently costs the city £1100 per year in extra service costs is another threat to sustainable growth which otherwise offers so many benefits if shared fairly.
“This data also provides further evidence of the need for the City Deal, Highways England and Network Rail to deliver vital agreed transport improvements for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.
“If there is an overall conclusion, it is that plenty has been achieved by Cambridge and its partners in the last few years, but there is still much more to do in 2016 and beyond.
“While recognising the health warnings on some of the data, including counting data for Cambridge only not Greater Cambridge, the city is also pleased to see great progress on expanding broadband and connectivity led by the county council, and evidence on shrinking carbon emissions per head.
“In the council’s view, further data is needed on some aspects as city averages do not tell the whole story, including on wealth disparity within the City, and on the numbers of people in high growth southern cities struggling on near minimum wages and spiralling local housing costs.”