Skip to main content

West Midlands Levelling Up Growth Prospectus

Local Focus: Birmingham & Solihull

The Challenge 

Birmingham and Solihull are two of the UK’s key growth centres, but are also home to communities experiencing some of the highest levels of deprivation and exclusion. Some of the key challenges residents face are: 

  • 72% of wards in East Birmingham and North Solihull (EBNS) are in the top 10% in England for deprivation; 
  • 55% of Birmingham’s most deprived wards Are in East Birmingham, the highest concentration of deprivation outside London; 
  • There is a decade of difference between the life expectancy of the poorest areas of East Birmingham and the most affluent areas; 
  • Average household income is more than 30% lower in North Solihull than the rest of Solihull; 
  • 35% of East Birmingham residents are economically inactive against 23% nationally; 
  • East Birmingham has some of the country’s highest unemployment – two East Birmingham constituencies comprise nearly 1% of the total UK claimant count; 
  • Unemployment is consistently high in North Solihull across generations; 
  • Transport connectivity is poor, with some young people facing a 2-hour journey to college by public transport; 
  • Much of the existing housing stock is poor quality and have low energy efficiency ratings; 
  • Fuel poverty in East Birmingham is among the highest in the country; 
  • Access to high quality green space is limited. 


The Prize 

If communities have good transport connections, the right skills, and early years and childcare (to reduce maternal unemployment), the major employment sites can offer large numbers of locally accessible jobs. 

Transport connections will increase business growth, and at the same time, investing in public services, green spaces, and improving housing quality and sustainability will improve citizen outcomes and increase pride in place. 

We also have an opportunity to invest in community infrastructure to improve multi-disciplinary teams working across health and social care. 


Progress So Far… 

Birmingham City Council and Solihull Council have already made significant strides towards levelling up in EBNS, on which the Trailblazer Devolution Deal would build. This includes: 

East Birmingham 

  • Birmingham has published a leading Levelling Up Strategy and East Birmingham Inclusive Growth Strategy, setting out five ‘Levelling Up Accelerators’; 
  • Programmes are supporting the strategies including on health and wellbeing, skills, early intervention, early years, business support, housing, and transport; 
  • A youth employment support service with training and mentoring for school leavers; 
  • The Tyseley Energy Park in East Birmingham is delivering solutions for low and zero carbon transport infrastructure and power, heat, waste, and recycling. 


North Solihull 

  • Solihull’s 2022 Council Plan refresh prioritised investment to tackle inequalities in North Solihull, along with an inclusive growth outcomes framework to target future interventions; 
  • All primary schools in North Solihull have been rebuilt or extensively refurbished.; 
  • There’s outline planning application for Kingshurst Village Centre following previous schemes at Chelmund’s Cross and Smith’s Wood; 
  • The regeneration focuses on buildings and infrastructure as well as the community hub and services; 
  • There are also developing plans to regenerate Chelmsley Wood town centre. 


Our Proposal 

Devolving powers will enable EBNS, an area which faces some of the highest levels of deep-seated inequalities in the country, to benefit at pace and scale from levelling up. 

To combat inequalities quickly we must learn from and build on past success, as well as avoid known pitfalls. We need to think about the area in its entirety, joining up services and intervention between providers and effective place-making. 

The proposal for EBNS is a Levelling Up Investment Zone that joins up a single pot for delivery of infrastructure and physical development. We’ll also adopt a whole place approach to integrated public services through multi-year and devolved funding, and pooled budgets. 

Our public services proposal is to develop multi-year whole place funding and integration of service in EBNS as a pilot area. This would bring together multiple existing funding streams and pool them from across the public sector, and services would work to improve early intervention and prevention and reverse long-term trends. 

Investment would be centred on Enterprise Zone measures and an innovative tax increment financing (TIF) mechanism that will support the necessary infrastructure investment across the area. We’d address the transport connectivity issues, harnessing the benefit of HS2 stations to make a transformational whole place impact.