This is a more residential seat than West Bromwich West. Housing varies from council-rented to Victorian terraced, to that found on private estates in the plusher suburbs of Charlemont, Great Barr and Newton. Council housing accounts for almost 40% of the total, and Labour has usually achieved big majorities on estates like Friar Park.
A new PFI-funded hospital of adult psychiatry recently opened in this seat, which will provide services for the whole West Midlands area. Elsewhere, the town centre is undergoing a £300m regeneration, the Lyng Estate is being regenerated as part of a £50m investment and Health and Education Action Zones mean plenty of government money will be spent on deprived areas in the constituency.
At general elections, it has been left to the Conservatives to challenge Labour. That they have done since the seatís creation in 1974 - in 1983 the majority here shrunk as low as 298 votes - but Labour managed a majority of 13,854 votes in 1997.