The broadcaster’s move had a 'fairly small' economic impact? Nonsense, say officials.

City leaders have hit back at a ‘flawed’ report from the London-based Centre for Cities which claims the BBC’s relocation to Salford has had a ‘fairly small’ impact on Greater Manchester’s economy.

The study states that the economic benefits of relocating highly skilled publicly-funded jobs out of London should not be ‘overplayed’, and that much of employment growth in the area was due to ‘displacement’ of jobs, rather than new job creation.

According to the report, the BBC’s move created 4,600 new jobs in MediaCityUK between 2011 and 2016, while employment in the media industry elsewhere in the region declined.

The report’s principal economist Paul Swinney said: “While the BBC’s move has been positive for Greater Manchester in other ways, it has done little to create new jobs across the city region, or to encourage new businesses to set up in the area.”

However, Swinney’s comments appear to contradict figures revealed later in the report, which state that in addition to the jobs created in MediaCityUK, the BBC’s move brought ‘around 4,420 new jobs to the city region’.

“Quite frankly a report that says the BBC has not had a positive impact on Greater Manchester is ridiculous,” said Mike Blackburn, chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

"The BBC move to Greater Manchester has been extraordinary, transformational and was the catalyst for a media and creative boom, creating the second largest cluster of digital and creative business in Europe,” he continued.

“The report is flawed, is far too narrow and fails to calculate the wider economic impact of jobs and the GVA of direct and non-direct BBC employees and their families and the benefit to the wider economy.”

BBC MediaCityUK
BBC offices in MediaCityUK

The criticism was backed by a number of local leaders, including Salford mayor Paul Dennett, who said the BBC’s relocation had resulted in the "clustering of 250 digital companies", providing 7000 jobs, while the BBC’s spend in the north had "more than doubled" between 2010 and 2016.

Sean Anstee, Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead for employment and skills, said the region’s creative and digital sector was now worth £3.1 billion - "double what it was in 2010".

The study was also challenged by the BBC itself, which cited a KPMG study highlighting the positive effects of the move.

The Centre for Cities' report comes as a number of cities, including Manchester, prepare bids to become the new home of Channel 4 following government pressure on the broadcaster to relocate.