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A bad Brexit deal for financial services could hit regional cities hardest

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A report from the think tank Centre for Cities – supported by the City of London Corporation – ‘London Links: the geography of financial services in the capital and beyond’ looked at how much individual cities across the UK export in services and what proportion comes from the financial sector.

It discovered that Cardiff, at 81%, Northampton, 76%, Leeds, 71% and Edinburgh, 69%, rely heavily on finance as their major services exporter. In comparison the financial sector makes up just 41% of London’s entire services exports.

Financial services accounted for at least a quarter of total exports in nine of the 63 cities evaluated, including Ipswich, Bristol and Swindon. A third of all UK financial services exports go to the European Union, followed by the US, Japan and Canada.

“Financial and professional services play an important role in city economies across the UK, so a bad Brexit deal for services will be a bad deal for many cities too,” warned Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities. “London is well-placed to bounce back from any post-Brexit downturn thanks to its vast labour-market and business base. However, the worry is that many other cities – especially those outside the Greater South East – will struggle to adapt to the potential shocks that might lie ahead.”

Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation Catherine McGuinness added: “The UK’s financial services sector is often associated with London’s iconic skyscrapers, but its reach extends well beyond the Square Mile’s borders. This data makes clear that some of the UK’s major cities rely heavily on financial services, and that a detrimental Brexit deal for the UK’s financial sector will be felt nationwide – not just in the capital.”

It’s estimated that there are 1.1 million financial services jobs in the UK – two-thirds of these are based outside London.

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