BCP COUNCIL aims to be on the starting blocks for the next round of Government ‘levelling up’ funding.

The council says that some local areas are equally deserving as those in the north – although admits also has some of the wealthiest places in the country.

The new White Paper will focus on challenges including “improving living standards, growing the private sector and increasing and spreading opportunity.”

BCP’s Cabinet heard this week the council was already collating the evidence it needed to make a case when the time came both to the White Paper and any other funding opportunities which might arise.

The tactic of having bids ready to take off the shelf has already proved successful for neighbouring Dorset Council which last year won £19million in Government grants to help ‘green’ public buildings.

Leading the BCP process is Cllr Toby Johnson who told the Cabinet meeting that despite widely held views that the area was wealthy there were pockets which were less well off and could do with additional help.

A report to councillors said that 16,000 people (4 per cent of the BCP population) live in the 10 per cent most deprived areas in England, which increases to 45,400 people (12 per cent of the BCP population) when looking at the number of people living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas.

In contrast, 82,800 (21 per cent of the BCP population) live in the 20 per cent least deprived areas in England.

The area also has wages slightly below the national average and house prices higher at an average of £302,700 in the 12 months to March 2021 and is likely to have risen again since then – around 22 per cent of local households rent privately.

Nearly 46 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 in the area are employed in the distribution, hotel and restaurant sector compared with 24 per cent of all in employment aged 16 and over.

Said the report: “Some areas, such as Sandbanks, Canford Cliffs, Christchurch and Broadstone fall within the least deprived areas nationally. In contrast, there are communities experiencing some of the highest levels of deprivation in Turlin Moor, Alderney, Turbary Common and West Howe, Boscombe and Somerford.”

It points out that deprivation is linked to health with inequalities in life expectancy with just under 10 years difference in life expectancy for women in West Highcliffe at 87.5 years, compared to women in Boscombe West at 77.9 years.

A report from the independent Southern Policy Centre published a report in July concluded: ”parts of Bournemouth, Gosport, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton faced the same challenges as urban areas in the Midlands and North, with life expectancy, levels of skills and income all below the national average”.

Pic – Cllr Toby Johnson