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Hot off the back of CPP's Local Economy Tracker 2023 findings, this blog is dedicated to looking at the issues voters really care about leading up to the 2024 general election including affordable housing, the cost of living and the availability of good jobs.

Today saw both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition launch the New Year with speeches focusing on their plans for Britain ahead of the much anticipated 2024 general election. In the East Midlands, Rishi Sunak used the speech to stress his desire to “...keep going, managing the economy well and cutting people’s taxes.” Meanwhile in the South West, Keir Starmer used his speech to promise a project of hope, aimed at restoring the UK economy. Just four days into the year and the stage is being set for an election fought on the state, and future of the UK economy.

Across the UK, there is broad pessimism about the future of local economies. The Centre for Progressive Policy’s (CPP) recent Local Economy Tracker revealed widespread pessimism about it. More people (39%) think the economy in the place that they live will get worse over the next five years than think it will get better (28%), especially outside of London:

A lack of affordable housing

A lack of affordable housing was mentioned by 31% of respondents as the most pressing economic challenge facing people in their area. This is unsurprising. Among developed countries, the UK has amongst the highest proportion of renters who spend more than 40% of their income on housing costs. These costs prevent households from spending on other essential and non-essential goods, which has a knock-on effect on the wider local economy.

Interestingly, very few respondents (1%) indicated that overbuilding or an influx of new households represented the greatest economic challenge to their local area. At the same time, some respondents chose to highlight that homes are becoming more unaffordable because of market pressures and a lack of public policy interventions to deliver a more affordable housing stock:

Despite this, the Government last year was forced to scrap housebuilding targets following opposition from backbench MPs. With Labour promising to “get Britain building again”, this could become a key policy question as we move towards the election.

Cost of Living

The cost of living crisis was cited by 30% of respondents as the most pressing economic concern in their local area. Following the reopening of the global economy and subsequent shocks, soaring costs have constrained economic activity and prevented people from getting the most out of life.

CPP’s report on the cost of living from 2023 can be found here.

While this concern is widespread, there were a couple of outliers. When correcting for other factors, “Cosmopolitan London” (inner London) and Northern Ireland saw significantly higher proportion of people saying that the cost of living crisis is the most pressing issue facing their local area.

34% highlighted the issue in “Cosmopolitan London”, compared to 30% nationally. This particular supergroup area is different from the rest of the country in a few ways. It has a far lower median age than the rest of the UK (32), as well as having a larger proportion of people living in flats and renting than in the rest of the country.

These findings are troubling and highlight that people are wary of what the future holds where they live. As parties prepare for the next election, it is important that economic policy proposals go further than previous efforts to boost national GDP or to prop up the service economy of London and the South East. Ahead of the 2024 general election, politicians should seek to demonstrate how they will deliver a more inclusive model of growth, which benefits local economies and people across the UK.

Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) have used our annual Local Economy Tracker to ask people what, in their own words, is the most pressing economic challenge in their local area. While political discourse over the first week of the new year has focused overwhelmingly on calls for fresh tax cuts with the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Reform UK all pushing out low tax messaging in the past week, just 1% of respondents said that high taxes were the most pressing economic concern in their local area.

Our results show the three biggest economic challenges for voters across the UK are: a lack of affordable housing (31%); the cost of living crisis (30%); and poor wages or a lack of good jobs (25%).

Elsewhere, 43% of respondents highlighted the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland. As my colleague Ross Mudie highlighted earlier this year, there is a clear need to provide cost of living support through local government, in order to better target support to local needs. For instance, Northern Ireland has a different characteristics to the rest of the UK with a largely off-grid home heating system.

While the cost of living crisis is now getting fewer headlines than a year ago, in part due to falling inflation, our research shows that this living standards remains a pressing concern.

Poor wages and a lack of good jobs

The past year has seen consistently low unemployment, a point that the Government will likely seek to make use of in the run up to the 2024 general election. But as our results make clear, poor wages and a limited availability of good jobs remains a key issue for people.

This is an important point, as it draws a distinction between the availability of any jobs and the ability of workers to get good jobs, that offer fulfilment and a decent standard of living. Highlighting the relationship of good work to productivity and public health has been a key part of efforts by Inclusive Growth Network members to “build back better” following the economic shocks of recent years.

When correcting for other factors in our findings, there is a notable outlier in the East Midlands, where just 16% of respondents mentioned poor wages or a limited availability of good jobs, contrasting it with other UK regions:

Jobs in the East Midlands are more focused on sectors like manufacturing, which has seen higher than average productivity growth. CPP has previously argued that manufacturing could deliver inclusive growth in rural and coastal economies. This would be particularly beneficial in areas categorised by the ONS as "Service and Industrial Legacy areas”, where 31% of respondents highlighted a lack of good, well paid jobs in their response.


CPP’s Local Economy Tracker indicated that people are broadly pessimistic about the future of their local economy. While tax cuts have dominated headlines politicians will need to address the issues people really care about such as affordable housing, the cost of living and the availability of good jobs to address voter concerns.

In November, CPP published Funding Fair Growth: How to transform the UK economy. Key proposals include reforming the UK tax system, to invest in the UK’s fundamental economy, including in adult skills to equip the UK workforce and economy to benefit from the net-zero transition. We also propose handing 2% of income tax to local authorities, to drive place based growth aimed at ensuring people have good opportunities in all local economies across the UK.


1. CPP commissioned Ipsos to interview a representative sample of adults aged 18+ across the UK. Interviews were conducted through the Ipsos UK KnowledgePanel, a random probability online panel.

2. All respondents were asked the questions:

“What would you say is the most pressing economic challenge facing people in your area?”

3. There were 2,018 interviews completed and fieldwork was undertaken between 26th October - 1st November 2023. Data was weighted to the profile of the UK population.