Christian joined Manchester Metropolitan University in April 2018 as a Reader in Economic Analytics, based full-time within the new Future Economies University Centre for Research & Knowledge Exchange. He is also Head of Future Economies Analytics, a dedicated unit within the research centre focused on data analysis and visualisation, forecasting and modelling to both commercial clients and to support the wider research of the centre and the university.
Before moving to academia, Christian worked in both the public and private sectors including Manchester City Council’s economic and urban policy unit and later at Core Cities UK where he worked in political engagement, successfully drafting and lobbying for amendments to the Localism Act 2011 on devolution policy.
Most recently, his previous role as head of research and policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce - the UK's largest Chamber - included the establishment of a commercial research function whose clients included DHL, Duff & Phelps, Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airports Group. Managing a team of analysts and economists, he developed innovative and accessible economic analyses and built a full commercial research unit with specialisms in primary and secondary research, sub-regional economies (including modelling and forecasting), economic impact studies, micro-economic analysis, tax policy and its effects on business growth, the role of skills within economic growth and policy consultancy, all underpinned by a deep expertise in large-scale data analytics.
In 2013 with his team he developed a ground-breaking new research methodology championed by government and industry to better understand and forecast supply-side constraints in labour and skills and more accurately modelling medium-term demand in the construction sector (including quantifying supply and demand mismatch at an individual trade level), from which HM Treasury’s Infrastructure Plan for Skills 2015 drew heavily.
His work on regional economic analysis resulted in his appointment in 2014 as one of the first Fellows of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) where he lead the research and advocacy activity of the national organisation on business rates reform and the supporting of better collection, analysis and interpretation of economic survey data across the UK.
He developed a cross-industry group of business organisations to support HM Treasury in its development of business rates reform and supported a separate group including public sector bodies and local authorities to ensure full representation in the policy design recommendations His work on regional economic analysis led to regular meetings with HM Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and the Bank of England on sub-national economic performance and analysis. He joined the BCC's National Economic Forecasting Group in 2017.
His research interests are centred on the intelligent use of rich data sources to better shape political narratives and to support the design and evaluation of sub-national economic policy strategies. He is working on a paper looking at the micro-economic effects of the theory of the capitalisation of business rates on business destruction.
In May 2019 he was invited to sit as a member of the Expert Panel for the design of the Yorkshire Local Industrial Strategy.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Regional Studies Association, and an associate member of the Institute of Place Management. He tweets at @ChristianSpence and blogs at www.christianspence.co.uk.
Words of wisdom
"All models are wrong, but some are useful." George Edward Pelham Box FRS (18 October 1919 – 28 March 2013)
2015-2018 Head of Research and Policy, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
2014-2018 Fellow, British Chambers of Commerce (Head of Business Rates Policy)
2013-2015 Head of Research and Business Intelligence, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
2011-2013 Research Manager, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
2011-2011 Political Strategy and Policy Consultant, Core Cities Group (Devolution and Localism)
2009-2011 Assistant Policy Officer, Manchester City Council (Urban and Economic Policy)
Teaching & Research Supervision
Why study ?
Data Analytics for Economics I (level 4) (from September 2020)
Data Analytics for Economics II (level 5) (from September 2021)
MSc Fiscal Policy and Economic Governance
Future Policy Challenges: Devolution and localism
Future Policy Challenges: Fiscal devolution and tax decentralisation
Economics for non-economists
Research Expertise, Publications & Grants
I specialise in regional economies, local governance, local government finance and taxation, devolution and industrial policy.
Sub-regional economies, agglomeration theory, time-series data, data analytics, data visualisation, forecasting and modelling, devolution policy, industrial strategy, local government taxation.
Chapters in books
C. Spence (2018). City-led industrial strategy. In: What we really mean when we talk about industrial strategy. Future Economies,
M. Gobey, C. Spence (2019). Local Tax Administration: Richer, Broader, Fairer. In: no. University of Central Lancashire, 9/1/2020.
M. Gobey, C. Spence Local Tax Administration: Richer, Broader, Fairer. Exeter University Business School, 11/4/2019.
Tax Administration Research Centre Conference 2019. Gobey, M., Spence, C. English Local Tax Reform: Broader, Deeper, Fairer.
Tax Research Network Conference 2019. Gobey, M., Spence, C. English Local Tax Reform: Broader, Deeper, Fairer.
Invited roundtable discussions
Spence, C. Challenges and Opportunites for Manufacturers. Making Brexit Work Conference, EEF North West. Manchester, 26 October 2018.
Spence, C. Industrial Strategy and Civic Need, Leeds, 19 November 2018.
Engagement & Knowledge Exchange
Projects and initiatives
Expert contributor to the RSA's Citizens' Economic Council 2016-2017
Consultancy and advisory roles
Member of Expert Panel, Yorkshire Local Industrial Strategy (2019- )