Call for cash to help as the region aims to bounce back

Ministers have been urged to plough billions of pounds into a new fund aimed at helping deprived areas bounce back after the coronavirus pandemic.

MPs want the Government to earmark £2 billion to ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, including 31 in the West Midlands, with the cash spent on local priorities decided on at a community level.

The money would be taken from dormant assets to create a new community wealth fund, used to “rebuild the social fabric of neighbourhoods”.

Among the areas targeted locally are East Park, Bilston East in Wolverhampton, Bloxwich West and Darlaston South in Walsall, and Brookside in Telford.

The Sandwell wards of Hateley Heath, Langley and Princes End have also been earmarked for funding.

A total of 41 MPs have signed a letter to Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak backing the plans, which were put forward by Conservative MP Danny Kruger in a recent report on levelling up.

Nicola Richards, the Conservative MP for West Bromwich East, said: “Creating a specific fund which empowers people to make decisions about the future of their communities would be a huge step in the right direction.

Catalyst

“I look forward to working with local communities and my colleagues in Parliament to deliver this.”

Gary Sambrook, the Conservative MP for Birmingham Northfield, said that for too long people in his constituency had been “shut out of the opportunities others have benefitted from.”

He added: “By trusting individuals and communities – and giving them the support and resources they need to achieve sustainable, long-term change – we can seize the moment, and kickstart a bright future for previously ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.”

Dame Diana Johnson, Labour co-chair of the APPG for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, said: “The Government must act to guarantee investment.

“Creating a new fund of this kind would be a catalyst for long-term change by empowering communities to act on issues that matter most to them, making them stronger and better equipped to respond to flux and uncertainty,” she added.

Mr Sunak announced a £4bn ‘levelling up’ fund in last week’s Spending Review.

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