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Flawed report ignores creative, digital revolution sparked by BBC relocation

10/08/2017

Greater Manchester has rejected a flawed report from the London-based Centre for Cities which claims the BBC’s move to Salford has had a “negligible” impact on the city region’s economy.

Greater Manchester has rejected a flawed report from the London-based Centre for Cities which claims the BBC’s move to Salford has had a “negligible” impact on the city region’s economy.

The city region is home to a huge, thriving and booming creative and digital sector, which has grown massively over the past few years. The BBC relocation has been central to this stunning success.

Sean Anstee, Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead for employment and skills, and leader of Trafford Council, said:

“The BBC’s move to Salford has benefited not just Salford, but Greater Manchester as a whole and indeed the entire North West. As well as the direct benefits of the thousands of people that are now employed across Greater Manchester as a result of the BBC’s relocation, the move North has been instrumental in sparking a creative and digital revolution in the city region

“Central government recognises the need for specialist sector-specific clusters of excellence to drive forward an industrial strategy which works for all of the UK. As a result of Greater Manchester’s lobbying, this place-based approach to excellence formed a key plank of the government’s recent green paper on the UK’s industrial strategy.

“We have seen phenomenal growth in our creative and digital sectors in Greater Manchester, making a compelling case for industrial clusters of excellence. The sector is worth £3.1bn to Greater Manchester’s economy – that’s double what it was in 2010. There are 55,000 thousand people employed in the sector. We are producing some of the most highly skilled graduates in the sector and are now in the top 20 European digital cities.

“This is a British success story, and the BBC’s move here has been a central part of that. It’s a cause for real celebration, and critical for the rebalancing of the nation’s economy to ensure that all of the nations and regions – and not just the capital – benefit from our amazing creative and digital talent.

“It is precisely because the BBC and ITV have a strong presence in our city region that we are such an attractive proposition for others, from Channel 4 to the 1,600 start-ups formed in Greater Manchester in the past year."

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett added:

“The BBC’s move north has been a significant catalyst for the continued development and regeneration of Salford and Greater Manchester.  With Greater Manchester boasting significant industrial strengths in creative industries and tech, increasingly characterising our skilled workforce it’s clear that global brands such as the BBC and ITV have been instrumental in Salford’s and Greater Manchester’s industrial renaissance.

“The BBC’s relocation to Salford has resulted in the clustering of 250 digital companies, providing 7,000 jobs at MediaCityUK, with the BBC’s spend in the north more than doubling between 2010/11 – 2015/16 to almost £420m and production spend tripling over the same period.

“Only in May this year, Salford was ranked as one of the top five hot-spots for start-ups, out-ranking London, with 1,393 new companies launching in the city between January and March.

“MediaCityUK is much more than just the BBC.  The co-location of educational institutions such as the UTC, City College and the University of Salford helps create a real industrial collaboration zone that places skills, talent, our young people and the needs of businesses at the heart of the city’s approach to development and regeneration.

“The success of MediaCityUK is a genuine example of how moving public sector jobs and global brands such as the BBC out of London is critical if we’re to genuinely re-balance the economy, create opportunities and realise the government’s aspirations for an industrial strategy."

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Greater Manchester LEP said: 

“Quite frankly a report that says the BBC has not had a positive impact on Greater Manchester is ridiculous. 

"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. 

“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.”

Dan Storer, Director, MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, said:

“The BBC move to Salford has had a catalytic impact on the Manchester creative, digital and tech industry, further underpinning what has become a world-class industry cluster.” 

“According to a recent national report, the economic value (GVA) associated with the sector grew by 92% since 2010, creating thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly.  This high-profile, fast growth cluster is a now national asset, which continues to attract investment from around the world, further contributing to Manchester’s position as the UK’s second biggest recipient of foreign direct investment after London.

Case study: Dublin-based animators Brown Bag Films opened a second office at The Sharp Project with 65 staff and plans for further expansion. Other specialists in content creation, virtual reality, digital and cyber security, continue to use Greater Manchester as a base, due to its strong skills base, eco-system and local market for output.

A robust report from KPMG, which outlines in detail the economic benefit of the BBC’s relocation can be read here or below. There is also this fact sheet from MIDAS on the creative, digital and tech sector in Manchester.