More cash will be diverted to white working class communities in the West Midlands in an effort to counter the belief they have been ignored, Communities Secretary John Denham has announced.
The money will be spent on improving facilities in what the Government calls “traditional working class communities”.
Wards including Birchills in Walsall, Bilston East in Wolverhampton and Friar Park, Tibbington Estate and Princes End in Sandwell will receive a share of £12 million. The Government also announced a second round of funding for Shard End, in the Hodge Hill constituency in Birmingham, which was awarded cash in October.
The scheme, called Connecting Communities, is a reaction to complaints that councils and government agencies have concentrated resources on ethnic minority communities and neglected white communities in deprived areas, contributing to support for extremist groups like the BNP.
Party leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons became the BNP’s first MEPs this year.
Without mentioning the far-right party by name, Mr Denham made it clear he hoped the cash would discourage residents from backing the far-right party.
He said: “Substantial investment has transformed communities across the country – but there are still communities who don’t seem to feel that benefit. They feel they work hard, pay taxes and follow the rules but others seem to have a better deal.
“The Government is determined to do everything we can to support all communities during the downturn. Getting it right means working with and listening to the people based in those communities who see the challenge close up and know what is needed to make a difference.
“The expansion of the programme means nearly one hundred communities are now getting targeted help in addressing local issues. The package of support will enable local people to influence, shape and change policies on issues which really matter in their community. It will help to make sure that those people who are feeling the pressure the most are getting bigger say and a fair deal.
“And if we fail, the danger is that extremists will try to exploit dissatisfaction and insecurity in ways which will pull communities apart.”
The cash could be used to fund job centres, provide voluntary work for unemployed young people or subsidise community associations.
Around £2 million is being used to train community association leaders, council staff and councillors in how to improve living conditions in the areas involved.
Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has admitted that the government may have avoided talking about immigration in the past.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics earlier this month showed that 11 per cent of the British population, more than one in ten, was born abroad.
And a quarter of babies in England and Wales were born to foreign mothers.
The figures also showed that, if current trends continue unchanged, the UK population will reach 70 million in 20 years. Ministers have insisted this will not happen.