The prospects for a positive message emerging from the Scottish Government’s budget statement in December look especially bleak this year. There is no more money, we are told, with worrying signals for public services as important as education, skills and economic development. Developing the capacity of Scotland’s cities to attract private investment is becoming an ever more critical component of their growth plans.

A recent report from the Royal Society of Arts and Core Cities UK, an alliance of 11 cities including Glasgow, summarises the conclusions of a year’s work of their UK Urban Futures Commission. Practical mechanisms for empowering our cities make up the bulk of their recommendations and I would argue that Glasgow is well placed to respond.

The report makes a strong case for the outsize contribution cities can make to a basket of economic, social and environmental goals in a balanced model it describes as "regenerative". PwC has taken a similar approach in its annual urban "Good Growth" analysis.

That cities are so important lies in their density, clustering people and activity into a tight physical space. Cities house over half of the UK’s population in less than nine per cent of the land surface. That gives them the potential to be efficient, innovative, socially interactive and net zero effective with a lower net carbon footprint per head.

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But potential is the key word because outside London our major cities are underperforming. All are less productive than the national average. Their populations are less skilled than in London - although Glasgow is closer than most - and their transportation systems less effective than European cities. The challenges of social deprivation are well known but UK cities also tend to be less dense than their European counterparts - an issue especially true of Glasgow - and that reflects a shortage of good housing.

The report provides OECD data showing the UK to be amongst the more centralised governments in the world. The regions simply don’t have the tools available to invest in their potential. It also points out that annual UK private business investment at £212bn is nearly three and a half times greater than local and central government investment put together. And it makes the argument that "many of the UK’s cities do not have the in-house capacity and capability to serve up a portfolio of local projects that would unlock private capital". New special-purpose vehicles and joint ventures are essential.

The policy priorities needed to deliver better "regenerative" cities include the densifying and upgrading of housing for energy efficiency, expanding public transport, strong rates of innovation, business creation and growth in productive sectors and robust programmes of reskilling and upskilling. The Clyde Metro and the city region’s three Innovation Districts would be relevant local examples. Delivering on those priorities for all core cities and closing the gap on London could deliver an extra £100 billion per year to the UK economy but needs investment of £40bn per annum, with Glasgow being around 10% of that figure.

The report recommendations emphasise the importance of a local plan and a "City Coalition" of business, academia and government to deliver it. There is a suggestion for a Cities Investment Compact asking all major UK financial institutions collectively to invest up to £200bn in local projects and a redirection of the remits of national public investment agencies such as the UK Infrastructure Bank and Innovate UK to focus more on supporting cities. And much more besides.

A recent decision by the Scottish Government to transfer the Clyde Mission regeneration project to the Glasgow City Region and declare Glasgow a "Metro" region shows how Glasgow can exploit the drift of the Commission’s report. The Glasgow City Region Cabinet comprising the city’s eight local authorities already has the bones of a plan and an evolving coalition. It has a growing track record in securing funds and delivering projects. It should be supported further in developing new special-purpose vehicles to help attract at least some of the private investment the Commission believes is needed to make our cities as successful as they should be.

Stuart Patrick is CEO of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce