Investing in cities: buy now, earn later

Guest post by Richard Blyth, RTPI.

Cranes on Liverpool skyline (credit: peterallen/CC BY-SA 2.0)

At a recent supper party I was besieged by NHS professionals. An interesting experience as it means you end up putting the world to rights. After all, everyone’s got an opinion on health, right?

Everybody was talking about 'integrated care' and how health is more than curing people in hospitals. We even got on to my favourite topic of housing. But everyone came up against the problem that in health we have such a high current level of need that it is impossible within current budgets to think about how you could invest to save in the future. Everyone is so busy pushing the bicycle downhill that they haven’t time to get on and ride.

This problem isn’t confined to health issues. Anyone in the housing field would query why we pay housing benefit to private rented sector tenants thus increasing the effective demand for homes, rather than building social rented homes to put people in housing need in. But again, you can’t stop housing benefit tomorrow.

The health professionals also discussed bringing health budgets to cities as opposed to running them at national level: many of the problems we face as a country are actually cities problems. We hear frequently that solving cities’ economies solves the country’s economy. Similarly solving cities social problems solves the country’s social problems.

My paper on 'invest to save' provides an insight into how we might go about solving the problem of funding investments now which will benefit our cities, their economies and their people in the future.

Read the full report

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Featured image by peterallen on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

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