Voters in the so-called red wall marginal battleground have said a lack of “places to meet” each other is their top priority.
A Local Trust/Survation poll surveyed 225 neighbourhoods in England which fall into the 10% most deprived regions.
The poll covered areas in the north of England which deserted Labour in favour of the Conservatives at the 2016 general election.
Boris Johnson promised those voters who helped deliver his crushing election victory in December he would “repay your trust”.
People in the areas surveyed were asked if they feel they are getting their fair share of resources, compared to other nearby communities.
The poll, shared exclusively with HuffPost UK, revealed over four in ten (42%) responded saying they were getting less, with 38% saying it was “about the same”. Just 4% felt they received more.
Of those saying they got less, “places to meet” was cited most as the biggest area where people were not getting their fair share (57%).
This was closely followed by community projects such as leisure and sports facilities (55%).
They were both seen as more important than investment in job opportunities and tackling unemployment – the third highest priority at 53%.
The findings come as large swathes of the north of England have seen the imposition of stricter local coronavirus lockdown restrictions following a surge in infections.
Matt Leach, the CEO of Local Trust, said the survey showed if the prime minister’s commitment to “levelling up” areas of the country was to succeed, the government had to “balance creating new economic opportunities with investment in improving the social and civic infrastructure”.
“This includes supporting investment in new community hubs, recreational and leisure facilities, libraries, and community owned pubs and cafes in areas that cannot sustain free market alternatives,” he said.
“These are vital and foundational community assets, which once in place, allow local people to organise, gain confidence, and contribute to levelling up the neighbourhoods they live in.”
Carl Shoben, director of strategic communications for Survation said: “This research needs to be read and understood by both political parties, in relation to their perceptions of what so called red wall voters care about the most.
“They are far more optimistic and happy with where they live and come from than the political class acknowledges, and the polling suggests it is improvements to their place, through better parks and leisure facilities that is the priority, over and above the large infrastructure projects that politicians obsess most with.
He added: “They want more control over their lives, not necessarily unrecognisable change.”
The poll also showed that if more money was made available for these areas what people wanted investment to tackle mental and physical health issues (79%).
People also wanted projects for young people (76%), support for small businesses (72%), supporting good job opportunities for residents (70%), and supporting community activities (66%).