Level Up Bristol: The challenge faced in our city

The extent of equality divide between neighbourhoods in Bristol has been revealed in a city council report which highlights the future challenges faced in in tackling the issue.

<p>BristolWorld has launched a campaign called Level Up Bristol</p>

BristolWorld has launched a campaign called Level Up Bristol

In 2018 , the council launched its five-year equality and inclusion policy and strategy with the ambition of creating an ‘inclusive city where nobody is left behind’.

Among the objectives was the provision of services to address inequality and enable residents to realise their potential and to be able to live in safety.

Millions of pounds have also been invested into services helping those in deprived areas in the city.

But an update report on the strategy this year has highlighted the challenges still faced.

The city council’s Key Facts 2021 publication shows:

►15 per cent of residents - some 71,000 people - live in the top 10 per cent deprived areas in England.

►28 per cent of children have been in care, adopted or eligible for free school meals in the past six years

►7 per cent of teenagers aged 16-17 were not in education, employment or training

►13 per cent of those in the most deprived areas in Bristol experienced moderate to severe ‘food insecurity’, compared to 4 per cent across the city

►33 per cent of people living in the most deprived areas say their lives are affected by fear of crime, compared to 16 per cent across the city

As we, BristolWorld, launch a campaign called Level Up Bristol, we want to reveal the extent of the problem, while exploring what is being done to tackle it at all levels.

MPs in Bristol have backed the campaign.

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, said: “I support the Level Up Bristol campaign because it’s obvious we need to take ‘levelling up’ into our own hands.”

What Bristol City Council says

Bristol City Council said its foremost ambition since the current administration took to office in 2016 was to create an inclusive city where no-one is left behind.

To achieve this, the council said it had to address interconnected challenges while delivering services for a population predicted to grow by 20 per cent in the next 30 years.

A spokesperson added: “It’s the challenge of supporting and delivering homes for the 15,000 people on the housing register and the 1,100 families in temporary accommodation.

“And it’s the need to deliver opportunity in places where only 1 in 12 teenagers progress to university and to ensure that the colour of your skin is not an indicator of your education or job prospects.

The divisions in our city along lines of wealth, health and prosperity must be tackled if we’re ever to meet our ambitions.”

The council said it was not down to one organisation or individual to tackle inequality - but was a challenge which required a ‘whole-city approach’.

The spokesperson said: “Our answer is to bring together partners from across sectors in Bristol to agree common goals and pool our resources to plan pathways towards tackling these challenges, tackling inequality in the process.

“We call it the One City Approach and from this partnership the city has produced the One City Plan – an ambitious, evolving vision for the city through to 2050.”

The One City Plan sets out a series of goals for Bristol spread across six themes, every year to 2050, and is aligned to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which form a blueprint for building a city that can overcome the interconnected challenges of poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

The spokesperson added: “Although we remain in the early years of our 30-year journey, you can see the roots of action across the city already.

“They exist in the holiday clubs helping families feed their children, the multi-million pound investments in flood defences, the web of heat networks bringing sustainable solutions to heating our homes, our drive to build affordable homes, sustainable food programmes and more.”

What the Government says

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been created as part of a Government pledge to level up every part of the UK.

It said£13.7 million has been provided to the West of England Combined Authority, through a Getting Building Fund, to kick-start building projects to bring jobs and support economic recovery in the region.

A further £800,000 has been allocated to Bristol as part of a Welcome Back Fund to promote the reopening of the local economy.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “We are leading efforts to level up across the UK, including Bristol, by empowering local leaders, boosting living standards, spreading opportunity, improving public services, and regenerating our town centres and high streets.”