South Tyneside constituencies named 'priority' areas for Government's levelling up programme

South Shields has been marked out as a ‘high priority’ area to be addressed by Number 10’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, according to a new study.

South Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall

The research, published by public affairs and communications body, WPI Strategy, found a large proportion of constituencies in the North East were ‘priorities’ for the Government’s much-discussed ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Of the more than 500 parliamentary constituencies assessed by WPI across the UK, South Shields was considered to be the thirteenth-most-in-need area requiring economic support.

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The exercise examined indicators of deprivation and economic disparity, looking at barometers and by-products of long-running under-investment including health outcomes and financial dependency rates.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

As opposed to the ‘achiever’ and ‘borderline’ categories assigned to other parts of the country, constituencies like South Shields and Jarrow were classed as ‘priority’ areas that are most in need of economic regeneration nationally.

According to WPI: “These places have historically suffered structural weaknesses through industrial decline and are often disadvantaged through Government spending.

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"These seats, disproportionately in the North and Midlands of England and in Wales, should be the priorities of the levelling up agenda.”

Jarrow, also classed as a ‘priority’ constituency, along with a number of other constituencies in the North East, was ranked 130th on the WPI index.

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Newcastle Central came in at 22nd on the WPI index, while Sunderland ranked 24th and Gateshead was classified as the 28th most in need area nationwide.

The only constituencies in the region found to be more in need of economic support were Hartlepool – which was ranked sixth – and Middlesborough, which was considered to be the second-most in need area.

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However, South Tyneside MPs were skeptical of the Government’s commitment to meaningful economic redress across the borough and the region.

Commenting on the findings of the study, South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, said: “I wouldn’t be banking on them to make sure a levelling up agenda delivers for areas like ours.”

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Jarrow MP Kate Osborne said: “The Tories have been talking about levelling up in areas such as those I represent in Jarrow constituency for over a decade now. When in reality, the gap between wealthy and poorer areas throughout the UK is widening at a pace.

“Consecutive Governments have been full of empty words when we need proper investment, however I cannot see it coming from this Government who only care about looking after their own.

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“I hope over time I am proven wrong.”

The Department of Communities, Housing and Local Government was contacted for comment.

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