AREAS in Stockton North have been identified as some of the most ‘at risk’ communities to be impacted more severely by Covid-19, says research published by Local Trust.

According to this research, there are 56 ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods across the North East with pre-existing socio-economic deprivation prior to the pandemic, and they are at risk of suffering more from the economic, social and health impacts of Covid than other areas.

Across the North East, 10.8 per cent of working age adults are now unemployed in these North East-based wards compared to 6.4 per cent across England, with youth unemployment at 16.8 per cent compared to 9 per cent across England.

The proportion of children aged 0-15 living in families where adults are in receipt of out-of-work benefits sits at 30.6 per cent compared to the national average of 14.9 per cent.

These factors combined mean that areas in Stockton that were already worse off now risk being less well-equipped than the rest of the country to face the economic and social challenges ahead.

These neighbourhoods measured at a ward level, are places facing a combination of deprivation, a lack of social facilities and low levels of community activity and already had relatively worse health, education and employment outcomes before the pandemic

In response to this research, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has called on the Government to do more for deprived areas post-Covid.

He said: “I have served as the Member of Parliament for more than 10 years, and have dealt with thousands of cases that have been taken on by my office. I know all too well the challenges that Stockton North faces as a community, but also the individual battles that my constituents are fighting every single day.

“Pockets of Stockton North are already experiencing high levels of deprivation, with heart and lung diseases being heavily prominent as a health issue. Areas like mine already needed more support before Covid-19 hit our shores, and we will need more focused attention than ever once we can start on rebuilding. I am pleased that the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for ‘Left Behind’ Neighbourhoods is being a strong voice for communities like mine in Parliament.

“The Prime Minister has ignored my calls for focused investment in communities like Stockton North, but I will keep pushing. My constituents deserve better than a Prime Minister that dismisses the needs of the most vulnerable in this country.”

Matt Leach, chief executive of Local Trust, the secretariat for the left behind neighbourhoods APPG said: “We know from that when the crisis first struck, in many places it was local people who were the first responders, working with community groups, providing vital help to the vulnerable and getting food parcels out to those in need. We can also see that some areas – particularly those lacking places to meet and strong local community organisations to bring them together – missed out; often places already suffering from significant economic and social disadvantage.

“As we move from tackling the health crisis to the challenge of building a strong post-Covid economy, we need to ensure that all communities have the potential to play their part in contributing to that recovery.”