Birmingham’s political leaders call on new Prime Minister to back Levelling Up plans

Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflects on the launch of the Levelling-Up Birmingham All Party Parliamentary Group.

As the contest to become the new Prime Minister continues, Birmingham has a clear and united message for whoever succeeds Boris Johnson: Stay committed to levelling up and we will work with you to improve the lives and life chances of people across this city.

Yesterday saw the launch of the new Levelling-Up Birmingham All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) - a cross-party group of MPs and Lords committed to securing the best possible deal for this city, and indeed the wider city region.

Birmingham City Council has played an important role in setting up the APPG - which is co-chaired by the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Preet Gill MP - and yesterday we joined forces with the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street to make the case for Birmingham’s ambitious Levelling Up Strategy.

We made it clear that it is not possible to Level-Up the UK without Levelling-Up Birmingham and, in particular, East Birmingham. The east of our city is home to 250,000 people - roughly the same population as the cities of Derby or Southampton and more than half the size of Liverpool. With stark health inequalities, high unemployment and high levels of relative poverty, East Birmingham is one of the most deprived places in the country.

That’s why Birmingham City Council is working with our city’s MPs, the Mayor, and our neighbours in Solihull to develop a whole-place approach to East Birmingham, building on the city’s East Birmingham Inclusive Growth Strategy, and asking for powers to be devolved from central government.

Birmingham, Solihull and the Combined Authority are all pulling together to Level-Up for the people of East Birmingham. But of course, that still leaves one vital piece of the jigsaw – the Government.

I must declare an interest here, because I was born and brought up in East Birmingham, but it is a young, vibrant and economically diverse area of huge untapped potential. That is why East Birmingham provides the Government with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that it truly wants to Level-Up for the UK.

So I will be writing on day one, urging the new PM to work with the Levelling-Up Birmingham APPG, the Council and our partners in the region to deliver real change to our city. Through devolution and new funding, we can transform lives and ensure that the people of East Birmingham reap the rewards of Birmingham’s golden decade.

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