Townscapes: Wales



Benjamin Goodair, Research Assistant, Bennett Institute for Public Policy
Professor Michael Kenny, Director, Bennett Institute for Public Policy


January 2020

About this report

This is the third in a series of papers analysing the fortunes of towns across Britain. The analysis draws upon data relating to public service provision, economic outcomes and demographic changes.

This report examines towns in Wales.

Key Findings

  • Wales has, on average, more deprivation in its towns than any other region in England or Scotland.
  • Seven towns in Wales have twice as much ‘severe deprivation’ than the average British town.
  • Eight out of the ten most deprived towns in Wales are located in the South Wales Valleys.
  • No Welsh town features in Britain’s 40 most economically improving towns.
  • Welsh towns are mostly small with dense public service provision – they provide more schools, doctor’s surgeries and bus stops than towns elsewhere.

About Townscapes

The declining economic fortunes of many towns, and the chasm that divides the experiences and outlooks of many of their inhabitants from the metropolitan centres where wealth and power have become concentrated, are issues of growing interest in political life and public policy.

In the UK, the preponderance of support for Brexit among town-dwellers, and the countervailing values of many young urbanites, has sparked a deep debate about how and why towns are locked out of the circuits of growth in the modern economy, and how the inequalities associated with economic geography can be more effectively tackled.

Our Townscapes project offers a deeper analysis of how towns are faring across the regions of Britain and elsewhere. It aims to step away from the generalisations and dogmas that infuse much of the contemporary policy debate and offer instead a more finely grained picture of how different towns relate to their wider regions and nations, as well as to their nearest cities. It showcases the merits of a more granular and regionally rooted perspective for our understanding of geographical inequalities and the kinds of policy needed to address them.


  • About the author

    Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Director, Bennett Institute for Public Policy

    Professor Kenny directs the Institute’s place and public policy programme.   Learn more

    Mike Kenny