The 2019 Solihull People and Place report by Solihull Observatory states that “Solihull as an authority is challenged by a prosperity gap, with performance indicators in the Regeneration area, framed by the wards of Chelmsley Wood, Kingshurst & Fordbridge and Smith’s Wood to the north of Birmingham International Airport, significantly lagging the rest of the borough. Alongside below average income levels the regeneration area is notable for a relatively higher population density, less green space per head and a substantially greater proportion of socially rented housing (62% of the borough’s total). The regeneration area contains the 20 most deprived LSOA neighbourhoods in Solihull, with 23 of the areas 29 LSOAs in the bottom 25% nationally. The impacts of this are felt across a broad range of outcomes including educational attainment, employment, crime and health.
16 out of 134 LSOAs in Solihull are in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods in England of which 6 are in the bottom 5%. All of these are in North Solihull.
The 2016 – 2019 Health & Wellbeing Strategy (produced by the Solihull Health & Wellbeing Board) stated “The number of children on a protection plan has increased from 2007/08 and is now above the rate for England and our statistical neighbours. The majority are resident in the North Solihull Regeneration Zone; domestic abuse and sexual exploitation have been identified as priority issues.”
Life expectancy is 12.8 years lower for men and 11.1 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Solihull than in the least deprived areas (Public Health, 2018)
56% of socially rented households live in the three North Solihull regeneration wards, where this type of tenure represents 44% of all households, compared to the average of 8% across the rest of the borough. (Census, 2011)
In 2018 there were over 5,100 Solihull households on the Housing Register with a housing need – half of these households with a Solihull address live in the North Solihull regeneration wards.
BAME doubled to 11% from 2001 census as an average across the whole of Solihull, however the regeneration wards are less diverse with a predominantly white population.
A 2018 Place Survey asked respondents about nine specific types of ASB in the local area. For most of these types of ASB responses from North Solihull residents were less favourable than elsewhere in the borough. Rubbish & litter lying around and vehicle nuisance like joyriding and abandoned cars were both considered a problem by 45% of North Solihull respondents, with a third also citing people using or dealing drugs.
The working age (16 – 65) claimant count is twice the national average and this is nearly 3 times the national average when focusing on young people (18 – 24 year olds)
North Solihull Regeneration wards are considerably less economically developed containing just 6% of all jobs in the borough and a much lower jobs density of 187 per 1,000 residents (compared to 673 per 1,000 across the rest of the borough).
A far higher proportion of those who travel to work do so either by public transport or by walking or cycling in the North Solihull regeneration wards than elsewhere in the borough. 43% of households in Chelmsley Wood don’t own a vehicle, as opposed to 6% in Blythe in the south.
In 2016 ONS estimates show that average net annual incomes vary across the borough and are on average nearly £7,500 per year lower in North Solihull than the average across the rest of the borough.
The proportion of households in fuel poverty is higher in the North Solihull locality (11.8%) than in the rest of the borough (10.1%).
There has been a lot of investment into building new housing and schools in recent years by the local authority. This has also resulted in improved public spaces, enterprise centre new village centres and improvement to existing buildings, such as the high rise flats. The investment has been much needed and given an aesthetic boost to the area.
Significant interventions are still required to ensure local people are empowered to utilise new assets effectively and we, along with other like-minded organisations, work tirelessly to change inherent perceptions; and to tackle the ingrained effects of deprivation. This is against a backdrop of government cuts, a squeeze on local authority resources and uncertainty over the sustainability of the economy.
New school buildings do much to raise the spirits of pupils, parents and teachers alike. In an area with few natural role models and with many people not travelling outside of the local area, work continues to raise aspirations and attainment.
Locally, there exist pockets of residents who wish to help improve the area and support other local people in need. Over the years a number of constituted groups have been formed and organisations such as ours have encouraged volunteering. As a community development trust we have nurtured initiatives such as the Cars Big Local, which has brought in £1m of lottery funding to the Cars area of Smiths Wood, to be spent over 10 years. It is this community spirit which The Colebridge Trust strives to build upon, together with the determination of local partner organisations; to help make enduring positive changes to local lives – a long-term commitment.