Supply upgrade as PCO Board prepares for government funding

BCP COUNCIL aims to be on the starting blocks for the government’s next “race to the top” funding round.

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

The new white paper will focus on challenges such as “improving living standards, growing the private sector and increasing and spreading opportunity”.

The BCP Cabinet learned this week that the board is already gathering the evidence it needs to make the case when the time comes for both the White Paper and any other funding opportunity that may arise.

The tactic of having bids ready to take off has already proven successful for neighboring Dorset Council which last year won £19million in government grants to help ‘green’ public buildings.

Cllr Toby Johnson leads the BCP process, who told the Cabinet meeting that despite the widely held view that the region was wealthy, there were pockets that were worse off and would need a boost additional help.

A report to councilors said 16,000 people (4% of the BCP population) live in the 10% most deprived areas of England, rising to 45,400 people (12% of the BCP population) in looking at the number of people living in the 20% most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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

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

Nearly 46% of 16-24 year olds in the area are employed in the distribution, hotel and restaurant sector, compared to 24% of all employed 16-year-olds and over.

According to the report: “Some areas, such as Sandbanks, Canford Cliffs, Christchurch and Broadstone, are among the least deprived areas nationally. In contrast, some communities experience some of the highest levels of deprivation in Turlin Moor, Alderney, Turbary Common and West Howe, Boscombe and Somerford.

He 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, compared to women in Boscombe West at 77.9.

A report by the independent Southern Policy Center published a report in July concluding: “Parts of Bournemouth, Gosport, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton faced the same challenges as urban areas in the Midlands and North, with the life expectancy, skill levels and income below the national average.

Photo – Clr Toby Johnson

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