Economic impact of moving Channel 4 to Liverpool may be overestimated, says leading think tank

Brookside and Hollyoaks creator Phil Redmond is leading the drive to bring the TV station to Merseyside off the back of a Government manifesto pledge to move it out of central London. Tony McDonough reports

The Government says it wants to move Channel 4 out of central London

 

Moving Channel 4 to Liverpool may not offer the jobs bonanza those pushing the plan would hope for, a leading think tank claims today.

Brookside and Hollyoaks creator Phil Redmond is leading the drive to bring the state-owned TV station to Merseyside off the back of a Government manifesto pledge to move it out of central London.

Mr Redmond says the move could see the creation of 800 new jobs in Liverpool and his idea is backed by Liverpool John Moores University and the city council.

New study

However, in a study published today think tank Centre for Cities said the BBC’s relocation of some national operations to Salford in 2011 showed how the economic impact of such a move could be overestimated.

It had been claimed the BBC’s move to the MediaCity development would bring up to 15,000 jobs to Greater Manchester.

Centre for Cities’ report reveals MediaCity gained 4,600 new jobs between 2011 and 2016 following the BBC relocation – a 43% increase in employment in the area.

Out of these new roles, nearly 4,000 were in the media, including 2,000 jobs in BBC national operations which moved to MediaCity from other parts of the country as part of the relocation.

The BBC relocated a number of national functions to Salford’s MediaCity in 2011

 

However, more than 1,200 of those jobs were in businesses already based in Greater Manchester which had relocated to the site. These included around 640 BBC jobs relocated from central Manchester.

Only 145 jobs were created in MediaCity by firms which moved all their operations from elsewhere in the country before 2011, showing that very few firms followed the BBC’s lead in relocating to Salford.

‘Negligible impact’

The report goes on to claim that the impact of the BBC relocation on employment across Greater Manchester was “negligible”.

The BBC’s move brought around 4,420 new jobs to the wider city region – equivalent to only 0.3% of total employment in Greater Manchester.

Other location interested in attracting Channel 4 include Manchester, the West Midlands, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, York, Hull and West Yorkshire.

Lesson for Liverpool

Paul Swinney, principal economist of Centre for Cities, said: “The impact of the BBC’s relocation shows that the Government and city leaders should not overestimate the economic benefits of moving public sector jobs from London to other parts of the country.

“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.

“The lesson for Liverpool and other cities bidding to be the new home of Channel 4 is that if they are successful, they should not expect to see a major boost to their economies beyond the jobs that the relocation would directly bring.

“More broadly, cities need to weigh up the costs of efforts to attract public bodies and jobs, as these resources might be better used to address skills-gaps or improve transport infrastructure instead.”

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