Request for help from hyperlocals

I’m on secondment with Big Lottery Fund’s West Midlands team at the moment, helping them with their BIG Local work. If you know of any hyperlocal blogs or social media surgeries serving the following areas, please could you leave me a comment below, tweet to @thewmro or email me oliver.nicholls [at] wmro.org

  • Bromford & Firs Estate (Birmingham)
  • East Coseley (Dudley)
  • Horsefair, Broadwaters, Greenhill (Kidderminster)
  • Tividale  – Grace Mary to Lion Farm (Sandwell)
  • Gobowen, St. Martins, Chell Heath (Shropshire)
  • Chell Heath & Fegg Hays (Stoke on Trent)

Thank you

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West Midlands particularly vulnerable to public sector job cuts

Public sector employment has grown significantly in recent years across the UK and has been the key driver of the economy’s expansion. But proposals announced by the government to make £83bn worth of cuts in public sector spending are forecast to lead to the loss of up to 600,000 public sector jobs across the UK over the next 6 years, according to a study1 by Oxford Economics.

The West Midlands economy is particularly vulnerable to the impact of the cuts. Between 1998 and 2008 (latest available figures), the West Midlands saw the most significant increase in dependence on public sector employment in the country2.

The share of jobs accounted for by the public sector increased from 22% in 1998 to 27% in 2008, a rise of 5 percentage points, bringing total public sector employment to some 637,000.

We forecast that between 2010 and 2016 there will be a net loss of nearly 50,000 jobs across the West Midlands and, based on the ratio of the number of private sector jobs dependent on public sector spending and the associated supply chain nationally, a further 310,000 jobs are at risk at private sector firms directly or indirectly reliant on public sector spending3.

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Local enterprise partnership proposals announced

56 proposals for local enterprise partnerships across the country have been submitted, the government has confirmed, following the closing day for submissions.

There are seven proposals from the West Midlands:

Three distinct responses in respect to cross boundary working arrangements have also been received from Peak District, South East England and West Leicestershire and Northern Warwickshire.

Here’s the full list of proposals.

Inward investment into the West Midlands 2009/10 – a local analysis

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Although these 88 investments represented the lowest number of jobs created or safeguarded since 1992/93, they also represented the 7th highest total number of projects since 1991.

Pie chart shows 38 inward investments in West Midlands metropolitan areas and 49 inward investments in the shire counties over 2009 to 2010Inward investment is usually spread reasonably evenly between the West Midlands metropolitan areas and the shire counties. In 2009/10 the shire counties attracted the majority of inward investment projects (55%). See left.

However, the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have attracted perhaps just over half of the projects over the years – see below. The number of jobs created and safeguarded also generally follows a similar pattern.

Stacked bar chart shows percentage of inward investments into West Midlands metropolitan areas versus shire counties between 1991 and 2010

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Community and voluntary sector organisations receive grants to help deprived communities

Real help for communities logoTwo voluntary sector organisations located in Telford and Wrekin and Stoke-on-Trent have been awarded part of a £15 million grant to assist communities hardest hit by the recession.

The targeted support fund, part of the government’s action plan for real communities, is providing 558 voluntary and community sector organisations with grants between £10,000 and £40,000. The grants are to help organisations assist those communities that have been severely impacted by the recession through a range of services related to information and guidance, health and wellbeing and employment.

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Government awards grant to boost town centres

Erdington artspace exhibitionThe government is making £3 million available to help areas hardest hit by the recession find creative ways to reduce the negative impact empty shops are having on the high street.

Coventry, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall councils are each being given a grant of £52, 632.

The councils will use the grants as they see fit to boost town centres and transform empty shops into a variety of places including learning centres, meeting places or a showroom for artists.

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Using height layers and aerial photography to visualise developments and land use

Infoterra an EADS Astrium companyMembers of the Pan Government Agreement (PGA2) including Advantage West Midlands and other Regional Development Agencies, DEFRA, Natural England and Communities and Local Government have signed up for access to national layers of aerial photography and height layers from The Next Perspectives Consortium led by Infoterra UK Ltd.

Available to download (and for PGA licensed organisations), these layers can be used for a whole host of applications in supporting the work of the organisations. We hope this brief article exemplifies how other government departments are using the information and will provide some ideas on how to best exploit the data.
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