Black Country recession updates

bc-recession-reportOur colleagues at the Black Country Observatory have produced the first Black Country Recession Intelligence report.

These reports are being produced on a monthly basis by the Observatory as part of  a ‘Black Country Recession Intelligence Group’ comprising of representatives from the Black Country Local Authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships. The reports aim to provide real-time evidence as a background to policy debate in the sub-region.

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Cigarettes and alcohol

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest installment of their annual General Household Survey (GHS) which provides data on smoking and drinking among adults in Great Britain, with figures available by gender, age and government office region.

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Substance misuse in the West Midlands

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse has today published its report, Getting to grips with substance misuse among young people (pdf, 54kb), which indicates that increasing numbers of teenagers in the West Midlands are receiving help for drug and alcohol problems through increased access to services in the region.

The report shows that the vast majority of the 2,447 young people helped with drug and alcohol problems in the West Midlands last year received specialist treatment such as counselling-based services to overcome harms caused by cannabis or alcohol use and reduce further risks to their health and wellbeing.

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Making information more accessible

InstantAtlas maps

InstantAtlas maps

How to make complex information available to a wider audience and how to make it more easily understand? Those were questions being considered in Coventry this week.

On Tuesday 20th January, Coventry City Council hosted a meeting designed to share ideas on how regional partners were using software to make their information more readily available.

The main focus of the event was Geowise’s InstantAtlas tool, which is used by many public sector organisations to provide a nice clear visual interpretation of the data they hold.

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Local Government Association analysis and research bulletin

Local Government Association logoThe Local Government Association publish a useful monthly analysis and research bulletin on the key issues and developments in research relating to, or impacting on, local government.

The December 2008 edition (PDF, 150kb) pulls together latest research developments, including:

The bulletin is free and you can register to get the bulletin sent to you directly.

Got something useful you’d like to share?

As part of our strategic objectives, we aim to provide effective access to intelligence to encourage higher standards of evidence-​based decision-​making. One of the ways in which we do this is by providing a resource catalogue of research, data and intelligence about the West Midlands and its sub-regions.

The catalogue is built through contributions from Observatory staff and others around the region who want to share research that they’ve produced or found useful themselves. However, we recognise that sometimes people don’t have the time to complete a full submission to the catalogue, so we’ve introduced a new quick recommend a resource form.

All you need to enter on the recommend a resource form is the title of the resource and URL where it is located, along with your email address in case we need to contact you with any queries about it.

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Secondment opportunity for a Research Assistant

Logo of West Midlands Regional ObservatoryWe currently have an opportunity for a Research Assistant to join the West Midlands Regional Observatory on a 12-​month secondment covering maternity leave.

You’ll provide technical and administrative support to the Observatory’s Research Team, and play an important part in compiling and maintaining data, preparing reports and managing enquiries.

More information and details on how to apply are available through Advantage West Midlands. [Applications for this vacancy are now closed.]

Closing date: 9th February 2009

Local information systems resource pack

InstantAtlas logoIf you’re interested in local information systems, and how mapping and data visualisation can inform planning of public services, have a look at GeoWise’s local information systems resource pack.

The resource pack pulls together lots of seminars, case studies and reference documents based on implementations of InstantAtlas, a geographic data visualisation tool, across local government and NHS organisations in England, Scotland and Wales in 2008.

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Should the Observatory keep blogging?

This Observations blog was set up in July 2008. Formally, the aim is to support one of our strategic objectives:

Provide effective access to intelligence to encourage higher standards of evidence–based decision-making

Also, as the first foray into blogging at the Observatory, it’s an experiment to see what happens when we share information in this way.

Six months on and this blog is being reviewed. At the end of January 2009, the Observatory’s management team will decide whether we will continue blogging here.

Your feedback on how we’re doing would be much appreciated. Do you find this blog useful? Are the posts relevant to your work? Is this blog providing “effective access to intelligence”?

Local names for Middle Layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs)

A member of the West Midlands Regional Data and Intelligence Network has raised a query with us about local names for Middle Layer Super Output Areas or MSOAs (find an explanation of what super output areas are below).

Each MSOA is identified by a nine character code (for example E02000001). The Office for National Statistics gave all Local Authorities the opportunity to provide “local names” to give local meaning to these MSOA codes, examples of which you will find in this document (XLS, 852KB).

From the West Midlands, only Walsall, Sandwell and Shropshire have provided these local names. Can anyone shed light on the others?

I’m looking for approved names that are in use by Local Authorities. Please email me if you can help – I’ll post updates here.

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Creative industries economic estimates

Gathering at the New Art Gallery WalsallThe annual creative industries economic estimates are now available from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Statistics are provided on:

  • Gross value added of the creative industries
  • Exports of services for the creative industries
  • Creative employment
  • Numbers of businesses within the creative industries in the UK

The figures are for 2006/2007, the latest available period.

Dave Harte has usefully pulled out the highlights from the figures.

West Midlands local development annual monitoring reports

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires local planning authorities to regularly monitor planning policies that affect the planning and development of their areas.

Each council is required to produce an Annual Monitoring Report which is published in December to assess the effectiveness of policy in the Local Development Framework.

These show whether the progress towards targets and milestones in the Local Development Framework are being met and whether council planning policies are being successfully implemented. If policies are not working as intended – or are not achieving sustainable objectives – the Annual Monitoring Report includes suggested actions.

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Job vacancy at the Cancer Intelligence Unit

Our partners at the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit are advertising the following vacancy:

Cancer Registration Information Officer

  • Band 5 £20,225 – £26,123 (1 April 2008 )
  • Full-time 37.5 hours a week
  • Fixed term 2 year post
  • Closing date:  22 January 2009
  • Interview date: 4 February 2009

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Segmentation tools – do you use them?

At the last meeting of the Observatory’s Population and Society Group, members shared how they use market segmentation tools.

These tools divide the market or population into subgroups with similar motivations, and are used for social and market research. Widely-used bases for segmenting include:

  • Geographic differences
  • Personality differences
  • Demographic differences
  • Use of product differences

Demography and Health group members use the segmentation tools to discover such things as marketing preferences, lifestyle choices and concentrations of ethnic groups. This information is then used to direct public services in the West Midlands.

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Survey of West Midlands’ businesses indicates deepening economic downturn

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and IndustryThe latest survey results from the region’s Chambers of Commerce point to a further worsening of the business environment.

The Quarterly Economic Survey results for the 3 months to December 2008 highlight the difficult trading conditions faced by businesses in the West Midlands.

The situation has deteriorated for both manufacturers and service providers. Key findings for the West Midlands are:
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