Huge swathes of the West Midlands are still grindingly poor, suffering needless mental health issues and dying much younger. Andy Street just hasn’t changed this – I will give these people the attention they deserve.
When the WMCA was formed in 2016 it was assumed that devolution would result in growth – but over five years on, there is still little evidence that this is the case. Growth in the region is modest and productivity is around 11.8% below average. There is also an assumption that when (or if) we see more abundant growth, everyone will benefit – again, there is no evidence to say so.
A whole generation of working young people are unable to even consider the possibility of owning their own home or having a stable job that pays a decent wage. At the moment, more than half of all West Midlands adults have less than £100 in savings. They are just a broken washing machine or winter coat away from disaster. Over half of all children in the West Midlands now live in households that don’t receive enough money to achieve a lifestyle most people would say is the minimum acceptable in our society (the ‘minimum income standard’). If we can change that, everyone will benefit.
Too often, politicians talk about poverty and deprivation in vague terms, rather than understanding how it blights and hinders the lives of whole communities every day. As Mayor, I will strive towards a West Midlands where no one is destitute and there are no more than 10% of people living in poverty at any one time, and none for more than two years.