Birmingham is being urged to make a special case for extra government cash to tackle high unemployment and social deprivation.

Deputy city council leader Paul Tilsley warned that savage spending cuts expected next year could mean the end of the £37 million Working Neighbourhoods Fund.

WNF money is being used for a huge range of projects to give people new skills, get them back into work and combat poverty.

Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem Sheldon) told a cabinet meeting that the WNF budget was the equivalent of 12 per cent of the entire amount of money Birmingham raises from council tax in a single year.

If, as is expected, the government scraps the programme in 2011, the money could not be found from other sources.

Coun Tilsley is urging representatives from all of the main political parties to make a special case for Birmingham, where unemployment in some wards is among the highest anywhere in the country.

He added: “We can only hope that Birmingham will be recognised as needing special help to address the very big issues that we have.

“It’s not a case of getting the begging bowl out and doing the old Liverpool trick of ‘give us a few bob guvnor’. But we do have to deal with some serious structural issues in Birmingham and the only way this will be tackled is through additional government support.”

Poverty was not confined to inner city wards, he added. Long-term unemployment in the suburbs meant that generations of families had never worked, he added.

The cabinet agreed the latest WNF projects – a £2 million onslaught on child poverty and a £1.7 million scheme to offer work placements to 170 apprentices.

But Coun Tilsley warned the likely end of the Working Neighbourhood Fund next April could result in many projects being withdrawn, unless the government came forward with more money.

Cabinet children’s member Les Lawrence warned: “If we don’t deal with child poverty we will be condemmning more young people to live in a cycle of decline. This is a problem that has bedevilled us for years.”