More than £500 million of Government money ploughed into inner city job creation and training schemes since 1997 has failed to improve ingrained unemployment and poverty in Birmingham, new figures show.
With the recession beginning to take its toll, 37 per cent of adults of working age in the city do not have jobs.
This is in stark contrast to the government’s official figures, which suggest the average unemployment rate for Birmingham is 10 per cent.
Deputy city council leader Paul Tilsley said the 37 per cent figure, which he described as shocking, included all adults of working age including those claiming disability benefit and single parent benefit.
It means that only 63 per cent of working age adults are in employment – a figure which is expected to slump even further over the next year. In some of the poorest parts of the city, unemployment is approaching 40 per cent.
The statistics are included in a performance report by BeBirmingham – the city strategic partnership consisting of the council, public bodies including health trusts and the police, the universities and business representatives.
Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem, Sheldon), who chairs BeBirmingham, is facing criticism that the partnership is little more than a high-ranking talking shop.
Tory city councillor Len Clark described BeBirmingham as “a load of local worthies who think they know more about the economy than they really do”.
Coun Clark (Con, Quinton) pointed out that, 30 years ago, 38 per cent of wealth in the West Midlands was created through the public sector and 62 per cent through the private sector. Today, the figures are 49 per cent for the public sector and 51 per cent for the private sector.
He added: “The West Midlands is about to join seven other UK regions where more than half of their economy is in the public sector. We will soon have more people in Birmingham employed in the public sector than was the case in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.”
Coun Tilsley accepted that progress in combating social deprivation has not been fast enough.
According to BeBirmingham’s report, more than 30 per cent of adults in the poorest wards are claiming jobseekers’ allowance, while the proportion of children in poverty across Birmingham is said to be 31.5 per cent.
Although standards in schools have improved, fewer than half of children attain five or more A*-C grades at GCSE including maths and English.
BeBirmingham director Jackie Mould admitted there was a chance the city would not hit some government performance improvement targets because of the recession. She added: “We are worried about the rise in violent crime and alcohol-related crime. The overall trend is still going in the wrong direction.”