Shropshire

Telford and Wrekin wealth gap targeted

More needs to be done to narrow the gap between affluent and less well-off parts of Shropshire, a council said.

A report published by Telford and Wrekin Council outlines the "challenges and opportunities in the borough".

The authority has predicted about 26,000 more people will be living in the area by 2026 with a 37% increase in those aged 65 or above.

Council leader Kuldip Sahota said a priority was to address its high level of youth unemployment.

Mr Sahota said unemployment for 16 to 24-year-olds was 26.2% compared to the national average of 21%.

No 'overnight' fix

The Labour councillor said: "We face some very serious issues including the level of youth unemployment and health issues and the gap between opportunity, achievement and health between the most deprived and affluent areas of the borough.

"Our challenge is to narrow that gap down but it's not something that can be done overnight.

"We started an apprenticeship for the council [and aim to have] 100 apprentices by next March.

"Not only are we doing it, we're asking our partners to do likewise so we can bring down the youth unemployment.

"We have some real positives. Unemployment overall is falling [and] our plans are in place to stimulate economic growth in the borough.

"At the same time our educational achievement is improving."

The report will be discussed by the council's partners and independent commissioners when the authority's co-operative commission assembly meets next week.

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