The All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods was set up to be the voice at Westminster, for those deprived communities that for far too long have missed out on many of the things that most of us take for granted.
Things like accessible places and spaces in the community for people to meet and interact, neighbourhood shops and facilities that serve the needs of local residents, active and vibrant community groups, organisations and institutions that strengthen local civic, social and cultural life, and good connectivity, both digital and physical.
Investment in the building blocks of social infrastructure of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods will not only help to deliver long-term improvements in the lives, livelihoods and the opportunities of residents, it will also save money.
Over the years, many ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods have seen vital social infrastructure such as this decline and disappear. As MPs representing constituencies with areas of multiple deprivation and high levels of unmet community needs, we know that such areas experience poorer outcomes across a range of indicators when compared to others similarly deprived. From low levels of educational attainment and participation in higher education to fewer job opportunities and significantly adverse health outcomes, the evidence shows that ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods are worse off.
Earlier research for our APPG exposed just how vulnerable the residents of these neighbourhoods are to the damaging effects of COVID-19, the impact of which is likely to exacerbate existing social and economic problems. It also showed how low levels of social infrastructure in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods leaves them less well equipped to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic, lacking the funding and support necessary to as easily and effectively harness the community spirit mobilised to such effect in other parts of the country.
These communities must be at the forefront of the levelling up agenda, with investment in education and skills, transport and broadband. As we have seen from past regeneration programmes, however, sustainable improvement in local outcomes needs targeted investment in people as well as places. To secure transformational and enduring change, we must also provide the capacity building resources for communities themselves to act on the issues that matter most to local people.
As we emerge from the damage wrought by the virus and seek to build back better, it is vital that levelling up involves targeted investment into those neighbourhoods that need it most
Investment in the building blocks of social infrastructure of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods will not only help to deliver long-term improvements in the lives, livelihoods and the opportunities of residents, it will also save money. As a prudent intervention upstream, it will avoid increased demand on more costly public services later, as well as serving to grow the economy and increase tax revenues.
As we emerge from the damage wrought by the virus and seek to build back better, it is vital that levelling up involves targeted investment into those neighbourhoods that need it most and that that investment includes significant support for social infrastructure.
That is why as an APPG we are endorsing the proposals for a Community Wealth or Levelling Up Communities Fund, using the next wave of dormant assets to invest in foundational social infrastructure for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. This is a once in a generation opportunity, and it is essential that we seize it.