Smarter, Stronger Cities: UK Urban Policy Innovations and Lessons for the United States

June 12, 2008

Executive Summary

A decade of policy innovation in the UK has stimulated population and economic growth in many of its cities and urban areas, helping them outpace the performance of most U.S. counterparts. The combination of active leadership from the UK’s central government on issues like making work pay and reducing poverty, greater flexibilities for cities and regions on issues like regeneration and transportation, and a national “bully pulpit” strongly supportive of urban areas, stands in contrast to the lack of bold, strategic thinking at the U.S. federal level that could unleash the potential of American cities and metropolitan areas.

Yet despite the governmental and cultural differences between the two nations, the past several years of U.S. policy “exports” adapted and improved in the UK suggest the potential for enhanced transatlantic exchange. This brief points to several areas in which U.S. federal policymakers might now import lessons from the UK’s efforts to build smarter, stronger cities.