Major study calls for tax powers to be devolved to Scotland’s biggest cities Image

Major study calls for tax powers to be devolved to Scotland’s biggest cities

24 May 2022

Major study calls for tax powers to be devolved to Scotland’s biggest cities

24 May 2022

Scotland's biggest cities need tax-raising and immigration powers, an overhaul of business rates and major investment in connectivity to succeed in the future. This is one of the findings of the recently launched report Scotland's Urban AGE 2022, led by Prof Brian Evans of Glasgow School of Art and co-authored by Ryden's Managing Partner Dr Mark Robertson.

The major academic study of the AGE cities – Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh – has found that the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and Brexit have combined to create a potentially “toxic” cocktail of change for urban Scotland.

Scotland’s Urban AGE 2022 calls on businesses and all levels of government to collaborate to ensure these cities overcome the challenges they face in this period of rapid and profound change.

The project - commissioned by Brodies LLP, Anderson Anderson & Brown and Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh Chambers of Commerce – is a sequel to a 2018 report and outlines what has changed (and what has not) in light of the pandemic and the accelerating net zero carbon agenda.

Professor Brian Evans, Head of Urbanism at the Glasgow School of Art and an advisor to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, led the research team and estimates that city inhabitants will soon outnumber rural dwellers for the first time in human history.

He said that Scotland needs the AGE city regions “at the top of their game” if it is to remain globally competitive. “Cities need to be dynamic, or they decline,” he warns.

Despite accounting for just 22% of Scotland’s landmass, these city regions house 68% of the population and account for 73% of the country’s GVA.

However, a consequence of this centripetal position is that these cities have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, which hollowed out shared spaces, devastated high streets and accelerated societal change. Together they lost 124 weeks of sales, more than any city in neighbouring England, due to our stricter pandemic measures.

Dr Mark Robertson, Ryden's Managing Partner and co-author of Scotland's Urban AGE 2022 added: "It has been a privilege to work on Scotland's Urban AGE for a second time. While many of the opportunities and challenges are already known, the SUA project focuses on the scale of ongoing change required for our city property markets to remain competitive in the post-pandemic context.

"City centre office requirements are adapting with occupiers demanding smaller but better commercial real estate. In addition, the de-carbonisation and retrofitting of commercial real estate on an industrial scale, presents the major challenge of when and at what pace this could be achieved."

Download the full report here

Download the Executive Summary and recommendations report here.