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Equity and Inclusion Scheme 2022-24

Social Inequality

There is significant social inequity throughout the West Midlands Metropolitan area. Almost half of households located within the region fall within the 20% most deprived areas in England. Birmingham is the most deprived local authority within the metropolitan

area, ranking 7th out of the total 317 English authorities (2019 indices of deprivation). Overall, except for Solihull, all local authorities within the WMCA area, fall within the top 100 local authorities for levels of deprivation, with Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sandwell falling within the top 25.

Unemployment across the WMCA is higher than the national average, with Birmingham having the second highest unemployment rate in the country at 7.8%. Average incomes in the West Midlands are below the national average and there is a prevalence of low value, low wage and low skill work. Youth unemployment is also a profound issue alongside qualification attainment, with approximately 30% of young people within the West Midlands Metropolitan area achieving less than 5 GCSEs, putting them at a disadvantage when getting onto the career ladder. The West Midlands Metropolitan area has the highest proportion of the working age population with no qualifications amongst all English regions, while skills shortages are also especially stark.

Both regionally and nationally poverty has shifted more towards in-work households (due to low wages, zero hour contracts and job insecurity) while the costs of housing are increasing significantly, pushing many people into poverty.

Only half of people in the region can afford to buy a home and three out of ten under 40s can only afford to live in the region if they live in social housing There has been a decline in home ownership and social renting and an increase in private renting (for many households this means poor condition private housing with high rents and little security). Around 1 in 5 neighbourhoods in the WMCA area have high levels of overcrowding and poor housing.

Digital inequalities are also stark - 13% of West Midlands residents have never sent an online message or email (compared to 7.8% nationally), with the region having the highest proportion of people who are offline across England.

The impact of deprivation is reflected in
the health and wellbeing of the region. The West Midlands has the highest percentage of obese adults in England, with almost a third of residents spending less than half an hour a week exercising – 2 hours less than the Government recommendation. By the age of 11, a quarter of children within the region are already at and increased risk of developing health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as anxiety and depression due to obesity. Those in poorer households are also much more likely to experience mental health issues.

Ethnic minorities, disabled people, young people and women are more likely to face higher rates of poverty, unemployment or poor employment, low qualification/skills levels and are less likely to hold housing wealth. They are also more likely to live in deprived areas and experience physical and mental health inequalities. Rates of poverty are as high as 50% for those who are Black and Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin and for disabled people.