The Government wants to create ‘great places to live and work’. How much of the West Midlands can we define as being great places to live and work and what damage has COVID-19 left in its wake? What is holding back our region’s communities achieving their full potential? What is preventing the private sector from creating the outstanding developments, in terms of quantity and quality, that the region needs to prosper? 215,000 new homes by 2030-31 is a huge target for the region to deliver, but substantial progress has been made. What else can be done to make sure the target is reached – can we/should we be aiming for more as a region?
If there were significant challenges facing the region BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic, what will these challenges ‘when’ the region emerges from the lockdown? How can a region prosper when in 2019 knife crime rose by 13% across the West Midlands – nearly double the national figure of a 7% increase? How can a city such as Birmingham respond to the challenges post pandemic when in 2019, 41.3% of its neighbourhoods were in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods nationally.
What if the region, emerging from the lockdown, fails to bring the economy even back to what we recognised in 2019? COVID-19 has already delivered many shattering blows to our communities, but how do we rebuild the region’s economic and social structures in the Great Recovery?
What about our high streets which were already going through a period of substantial change pre pandemic? In 2018, there was a net closure of 188 high street stores across the region – the largest fall in the West Midlands over the last five years. Is COVID-19 the final nail in the coffin for the ‘high street’ – or even the ‘store’ as we understand it currently? What could the future really look like for retail and the leisure industry – and is it sustainable?
And what about the broader health of the region? Last year, 37.1% of Year 6 children were recorded as being overweight or obese, compared to 31.1% nationally. The West Midlands ranks number 3 for the worst performing regions for childhood obesity. There is huge potential for both the UK City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games to improve these statistics through both their activities and specifically with regard to their legacy programmes, but there are worrying trends in the region’s health. Just 58.1% of West Midlands’ citizens (1.9 million people) are ‘physically’ active, which is below the UK average of 62.6% (as of November 2017). The region has to reverse these statistics.
Key Challenges for the Region:
87.2 recorded crimes per 1,000 population – an increase of 10.9% across the region over the past year versus 7% increase in England.
37.1% of Year 6 children are overweight or obese
compared to 31.1% nationally. The West Midlands ranks number 3 for worst performing regions for childhood obesity.
58.1% (1.9m people) are Physically Active – below UK average of 62.6% (as of Nov 2017)
20% of the WMCA population lived in the top 10% most deprived areas (2015)
475 high street stores closed in the West Midlands region in 2018. 287 new stores opened, resulting in a net closure of 188 – the largest fall in the region over the last five years.
There were 46 days of poor air quality last year – an increase of 21 days more than previous year (rated 4 or higher on the Daily Air Quality Index)
14,491 net increase of homes
More houses are being built resulting in housing stock continuing to rise to 1,719,094 homes – a net increase of 14,491 homes from the previous year
Our Areas of Interest
Please visit the links below to learn more about our specific areas of interest within ‘Housing and Communities’.