New issue of Local Government Association analysis and research bulletin

Local Government AssocationThe December 2010 issue of the Local Government Association’s analysis and research bulletin (pdf, 328kb) is now available.

The bulletin highlights new research and statistics on:

  • Employment, pay and workforce trends
  • Transport
  • Housing
  • Education and children’s services
  • Environment
  • Health and social care
  • Local government
  • Europe
  • Population and migration
  • Culture, tourism and sport
  • Crime and disorder
  • Communities and place shaping

The current and previous issues are available on the Local Government Association’s website.

Participating in culture and sport equivalent to a pay rise?

Research funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has suggested that the boost to individuals’ wellbeing achieved through weekly participation in sport is equivalent to £11,000 per year in household income. Cinema (c.£9,000) and concert (c.£9,000) attendance are not far behind in terms of annual ‘value’.

The research, Understanding the value of engagement in culture and sport (pdf, 291kb), which is based on a statistical analysis of the British Household Panel Survey, estimates the equivalent boost in household income required to achieve the same boost in wellbeing generated by cultural participation.

The work is something of a departure from previous estimates (such as those which calculate the monetary value of sport by referring to the cost of physical inactivity to the NHS) in that it factors in other influences on wellbeing such as socioeconomic status, thereby isolating the effect of culture.

As the authors note, the findings have the potential to guide policymakers, indicating the level of investment that may be warranted in interventions aimed at increasing participation in culture and sport.

Related links

Making the CASE for culture

Last month saw the culmination of a Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) project to bring together a range of statistics and figures on the impact of culture at local, regional and national level. In addition to individual summary reports for each English region, you can download recent data on:

  • Economic impact (xls, 6.7mb) – employment, turnover etc. within cultural organisations.
  • Investment data – levels of public/private investment in capital (xls, 1.8mb) and non-capital (xls, 7.9mb) cultural projects.
  • Tourism data (xls, 613kb) – overnight visits by domestic tourists, visits to visitor attractions etc.
  • Education data (xls, 4.9mb) – number of Higher Education students for cultural subjects etc.
  • Engagement data (xls, 915kb) – levels of participation in cultural activity.
  • Physical assets data (xls, 1.3mb) – count, percentage and density of cultural assets.

Notably, some of the spreadsheets also contain wider demographic data that gives a useful hint as to the kind of analyses users could undertake.

For example, the working age population data for each local authority and region (contained in the investment spreadsheets) allows users to calculate investment per head of working age population (or per 10,000 of working age population as in the summary reports) without having to hunt high and low for the population data separately!

For further advice on how to use the data contact CASE (case [at] culture.gsi.gov.uk). Alternatively, feel free to contact us here at the Cultural Observatory (lauren.amery [at] artscouncil.org.uk / tel 0121 631 5705).

Related links

Notes

‘CASE’ is a joint DCMS research programme involving Sport England, Arts Council England, English Heritage and Museums, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA).

The definition of ‘culture’ used in the research focuses on those sectors most relevant to the CASE partnership, consisting of Arts Council England, English Heritage, Museums, Librarires and Archives Council and Sport England. So, for example, while data on tourism can be downloaded separately, tourism sector organisations such as hotels and restaurants have not been factored into ‘CASE sector’ analyses.

Office for National Statistics West Midlands newsletter July-August 2010

Office for National StatisticsThis newsletter contains information on statistical consultations together with recent and planned ONS publications that might be of interest to you.
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West Midlands skills performance falters

The Observatory has published this year’s review of West Midlands skills performance .

Our summary skills index based on a range of measures (such as GVA per employee, investment in training, and qualification attainment amongst young people and adults) reveals the West Midlands skills performance has begun to widen again, from 1.1 points in 2007 to 2.3 points in 2009. As a result the West Midlands has dropped from 5th to 6th place in the league table of regions.

Skills performance index for West Midlands and England between 2005 and 2009

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West Midlands monthly economic update report August 2010

The August 2010 economic update report (pdf, 482kb) from Advantage West Midlands is now available.

The report includes headlines and statistics, both national and from the West Midlands, on the state of the economy, inflation, the labour market, house prices, manufacturing, automotive, services sectors, construction, and retail.

The updates are published monthly here.

Thousands of visits generated by West Midlands Open Weekend 2010 celebrations

People photographing self-portraits at New Art Gallery in Walsall

A report launched today by the Cultural Observatory (in association with Arts Council England) has found that local events held in July as part of the London 2012 Open Weekend celebrations generated in excess of 10,000 visits and attracted a total audience of over 46,000.

Our report, London 2012 Open Weekend 2010 in the West Midlands: post-event survey summary report (pdf, 211kb) contains the results of survey research with a sample of event attendees.

Surveys asked whether people were visiting local areas specifically to attend events (as opposed to visiting areas for other primary reasons such as shopping, or visiting friends). Based on the results of this question, we estimated over 10,000 visits were directly generated by events.

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The generation gap: BME participation in culture found to be significantly influenced by age

New research funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport has helped to increase understanding of the factors influencing participation in culture.

Based on a statistical analysis of Taking Part 2007/08, the study, Understanding the drivers, impact and value of engagement in culture and sport (pdf, 575kb) suggests, for example, that:

  • In the cases of visiting a heritage site, attending an arts event, or visiting a museum, young people from BME and non-BME groups were found to have a similar probability of engaging in culture, while among older people those from a BME group were less likely to engage in culture. For example, older ethnic minorities were found to be around half as likely to attend arts events as older people not from ethnic minorities.
  • Households scoring ‘low’ on socio-economic measures were found to be 4 times less likely to engage in culture than those scoring high.
  • Females were found to be 3 times less likely to participate in sport than males.
  • Probability of participation in culture during adulthood is positively correlated with childhood participation levels.

While some of the trends highlighted in the study are familiar (and the subject of past research), the methodological approach taken by authors provides us with authoritative percentages and figures against known trends.

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Sport England Active People Survey analysis tool updated and ready to be interrogated!

For those who haven’t tried it yet, the Sport England Active People Diagnostic is a website for viewing and investigating the results of the Active People Survey: an annual survey which captures levels of participation in sport (and culture) amongst over 16s at local, regional and national geographies.

The tool has recently been updated to include Active People Survey 3 (2008/09) data, which means is it possible to run analyses comparing sports participation trends over time (since 2005/06).

It’s worth noting that it’s also now possible to access the results of the (non-sport) cultural national indicators — NI 9 (library participation), NI 10 (museum/gallery participation) and NI 11 (art participation) — via the tool for the year 2008, but, as yet, the tool does not contain comparative data for these cultural indicators.

Once you’ve registered to use the tool, a good place to start is ‘cross-tabulations’ (via the ‘Interactive’ tab), which allows you to select which data you are interested in viewing / downloading.

Visit the Sport England Active People Diagnostic

Local tourism industries generate over 6% of the region’s total economic output

According to an analysis by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at Office for National Statistics, the economic output (‘GVA’) generated by West Midlands-based tourism businesses accounts for a relatively small proportion of overall regional GVA (6.2%) compared to other parts of the UK such as the South West (8.9%) and the North West (8.3%). However, given that under some definitions of the tourism sector (such as the narrower, DCMS definition used in our Culture & Prosperity report), tourism industries appear less important to West Midlands economic output, this new paper may cause a shift in perception to a certain extent.

Boeing 777 on runway at Birmingham AirportIndeed, the paper (and its definition of the tourism sector) may trigger a reassessment of the importance of tourism to the national economy generally. For example, the finding that tourism contributes 7.1% of all GVA in the UK contrasts with a recent study commissioned by VisitBritain, which suggests the visitor economy directly generates 4.0% of UK GDP.

Notes: GVA and GDP measures are different and therefore not directly comparable, but in this instance, it was deemed useful to compare the two studies to explore different assessments of tourism contribution to the overall economy.

Download the full article

Photo by Martin O’Connell

New report confirms growth in local creative workforce

Recent work by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found a national and regional growth in the level of creative industries employment between 2006 – 2008. According to data sourced from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), employment in creative firms across England increased by 11% (compared to a 2% average growth in employment for all sectors). The level of creative industry employment growth in the West Midlands region (+19%) was relatively high compared to other regions and, in line with national trends, was more marked than the average increase for all sectors within the region.  

These findings confirm trends reported last year in our Culture & Prosperity: the economic role of culture in the West Midlands. Although the methodology and timeframe differed slightly across the two papers, the conclusion is the same: a regional growth in creative industry employment compared to the national creative industry average and compared to the average for all regional firms.

Unfortunately, as the author of the paper points out, there are continued issues around getting hold of more recent creative industries data. Both mainstream definitions of the creative sectors (DCMS evidence toolkit & Frontier Economics) use 2003 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes – rather than the newer 2007 codes.

From 2009, the data for the IDBR has been collected based on the current SIC 2007 codes, something which poses problems for cultural researchers in that the process of converting 2003 codes to 2007 codes leads to data that is not exactly comparable with pre-2009 data. This situation could be seen as problematic during the aftermath of a recession when a clear picture of the economic situation is particularly helpful.

Download the report and accompanying dataset

Notes: The ‘official’ definition of the creative industries sectors used by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) remains that documented in the DCMS Evidence Toolkit. The Frontier Economics definition, although widely known, remains experiential at this time. 

Photo by Dean Terry

A tough year for inward investment in the West Midlands

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Of these 88 successes, Advantage West Midlands were involved with just under half but this assistance helped create over 60% of the new jobs.

Some of these inward investments were high-profile including Kraft’s acquisition of Cadbury in Bournville, Birmingham affecting nearly 3,000 employees at their head office as well many more around the country.

Other investments in the news included the acquisition of Birmingham City Football Club by Far Eastern businessman Carson Yeung’s Grandtop International, the continued expansion of the ex-Longbridge car plant by SAIC of China where a new engine test facility is to be built and the taking on 50 skilled engineers by Indian Tata Group’s Jaguar Land Rover.

Some other notable inward investments included:

  • Expansion of Japanese tool-maker Makita‘s manufacturing facility in Telford, which created 70 jobs
  • Expansion of TK Maxx‘s distribution depot in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, which created 100 jobs
  • FourStar from the Netherlands is to open a new UK headquarters in Birmingham employing over 250 people to provide employment and skills training to the unemployed

Two other investments from the United States also catch the eye. Remotec in Coventry, a subsidiary of Northrup Grumman, expanded its facility designing and manufacturing robotic bomb disposal units.

But it’s the opening of a new computer games design studio in Digbeth, Birmingham by Microsoft-owned Rare Games that’s hoped will give a boost to games design in the Midlands. 90 new games designers will be employed there.

Analysis of West Midland inward investment

Further analysis of the inward investment figures show that, with 88 investments, 2009/10 saw the fewest number of investments in the  West Midlands since 2005/06 when investment numbers were still recovering from the falls in global investment since 2001. This highlights the fact that the global economic crisis began to seriously affect investment decisions.

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Updated resource guide for Local Economic Assessments

Understanding local factors in a local area’s economic development, how these have developed, how they’re predicted to develop, and which factors are (or have potential to be) particularly significant — will be essential in informing developing Local Enterpise Partnerships (LEPs) and economic strategies. Equally, the functional relationships between local areas is likely to become more important in policy-making.

With regions no longer the focus of evidence-gathering and policy-making, and an increased emphasis on local decision-making, Local Economic Assessments are an opportunity to focus the collection of evidence to understand the impact of new national policies and to develop local economic ‘stories of place.’

The intelligence in a Local Economic Assessment can also highlight where resources can most productively be targeted to improve local economic development.

To help Local Authorities prepare their Assessments, we’ve created a new web-based resource guide, building on an earlier version circulated in May. This addition to the Observatory’s resource catalogue signposts resources relevant to Local Economic Assessments produced by a range of organisations, as well as the Observatory’s own research.

The resources are grouped into six areas, based on the themes set out in LEA guidance published in March 2010. While that guidance is no longer statutory, it’s still a useful framework to draw on.

The themes you can search by are:

Within each theme, you can search for:

  • Data sources: datasets and primary research
  • Analysis: interpretation of data and other evidence in the West Midlands and local authorities
  • Guidance documents: examples and methodologies for you to follow if you wish
  • Other resources: examples of research from outside the West Midlands, and useful links to other websites and research networks

We hope you find this resource guide useful. You can be notified when new resources are added via this RSS feed or email alert. If you have resources you think others would find useful, please submit them to our Resource Catalogue (requires login) or contact stephen.howarth@wmro.org.

Office for National Statistics West Midlands newsletter May/June 2010

Office for National StatisticsThis newsletter contains information on statistical consultations together with recent and planned ONS publications that might be of interest to you.

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Tweets, whistles and gold: an overview of the Cultural Research Conference 2010

The first Cultural Research & Intelligence Network (CRAIN) conference took place on 2nd June 2010 at Birmingham City University (School of Art) in central Birmingham.

The conference was well attended, attracting 41 delegates who between them represented 26 different organisations (including five local authorities and four local universities).

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