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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Jobseekers allowance claimant statistics give cause for concern in Birmingham

Four of Birmingham’s parliamentary constituencies are listed amongst the five worst in the UK in terms of the proportion of the resident working-age population claiming Jobseekers allowance, according to figures for December 2008 released by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The constituencies are Birmingham Ladywood (9.9% up 1% year-on-year), Birmingham Hodge Hill (8.3% up 1.5%), Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath (8.1% up 0.9%), and Birmingham Erdington (7.4% up 1.8%).

The only constituency listed in the worst five not in Birmingham was Liverpool Walton, with a Jobseekers claimant rate of 7.4%. Wolverhampton South East was listed as having the sixth worst claimant rate of the 660 parliamentary constituencies at 7% (up 1.7%).

The BBC recession tracker provides a map of the UK illustrating these statistics, in which Birmingham can easily be seen as a Jobseekers allowance claimant ‘hot spot’.

Download the full list of statistics for all constituencies (XLS, 86kb).