Moving out of London could create 7,500 jobs in Salford
A RECENT report by independent think tank, The ResPublica Trust, has suggested that the UK Government should encourage Channel 4 to move to Salford in order to support further investment in the North and break away from London’s gravitational pull.
MediaCityUK on Salford Quays is making a hugely significant contribution to the regional economy, particularly in the areas of innovation and digital skills. Between 2007 and 2014, over £1 billion was invested into the immediate site and the 30,000 jobs in Salford Quays, across all sectors, represent a quarter of all employment in Salford.
“The cluster on the Quays remains vulnerable to multiple forces"
There are around 250 creative, digital and technology businesses in MediaCityUK, employing approximately 7,000 people, with another 600 businesses in Salford’s wider digital and creative cluster, bringing total employment in the sector up to 9,000 - around 5% of total employment in Salford.
In 'Escape Velocity: Growing Salford’s Digital and Creative Economy', ResPublica recommends a set of radical steps to grow and maintain the cluster, a model that can be adopted in other industries and regions.
Despite billions of pounds worth of investment and an impressive employment growth forecast of 22%, the report highlights the need to ensure that Salford’s success is safeguarded by making it the new ‘default option’ when it comes to investment in the digital and creative industries.
“The cluster on the Quays remains vulnerable to multiple forces that – if not actively checked by local, regional and central government – threaten its continued growth and success” says ResPublica. This is partly due to “London’s abiding ability to drain talent and capital” from the rest of the country, which is only likely to increase given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
In light of Ministers threatening to use legislation to force Channel 4 to move out of London, the report argues that relocating Channel 4’s operations to Salford, at least in part, would build on this prosperity. Analysis for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport estimates that the economic benefit created would range between £90m and £240m depending on the scale of relocation.
Moving out of London could create 7,500 jobs in Salford, adding to the 15,100 new jobs that have already been forecast to exist by 2025. Channel 4, as an additional anchor institution, would add to the existing ecosystem of firms and skills, creating a platform for greater success and boosting local growth.
Investing in the Quays has also reversed the fortunes of the Greater Manchester area as whole. Placing key anchor institutions such as the BBC and ITV in the area, has led to a high concentration of jobs in the broadcasting and television programming activities, and employment levels over 2.5 times the national average.
The report also highlights the importance of clusters like Salford’s for the UK’s broader industrial strategy. A sector and place-based framework for growth ensures that regions reap the benefits of creative mass.