Call to action on climate change

Becky GillDue to popular demand, we’re sharing the opening presentation from our state of the region climate change event held back on 20th April 2009.

Becky Gill, Head of Sustainable Development at Government Office West Midlands, spoke on the region’s Climate Change Action Plan.

The Action Plan’s vision is of a sustainable, low carbon West Midlands that is well-adapted to the impacts of climate change and supported by a low carbon economy.

Becky called on the whole region to get behind the vision, and for focussed action to achieve it.

Continue reading

Seminars at Herefordshire Information and Research Network

Herefordshire PartnershipThe Herefordshire Information and Research Network are hosting a series of seminars over 2009–2010.

Each seminar includes a presentation on a specific topic, updates by participants on their own research activities and opportunities for networking.

Seminars planned for later this year include the State of Herefordshire Report 2009 and results of the Herefordshire quality of life survey.

Continue reading

Association of Regional Observatories launches new website

Association of Regional ObservatoriesThe Association of Regional Observatories have launched their new website at

Features on the the new site include the Association’s news feed, an aggregated news feed from all regional observatories, newsletter and reading room.

Continue reading

ONS seminars on improvements to 2008 population statistics

Office for National Statistics logoThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) are holding seminars across four locations in June 2009 to explain the forthcoming improvements to the mid-2008 population estimates, sub-national population projections and migration statistics.

The seminars will provide information on adjusting internal (within UK) migration using data on students. They will also cover modelling the geographical distribution of long-term international migration and short-term internal migration at the local authority level, together with other improvements that are being made.

Continue reading

Interactive map of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants

We’ve produced an interactive map to show how Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant rates are changing across the region in response to the recession.

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is the main unemployment benefit for working age people who are out of work.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

Open the interactive map (requires Adobe Flash Player)
Download the dataset (XLS, 25kb)
Source: Office for National Statistics, claimant count (not seasonally adjusted)

Continue reading

How the Observatory is monitoring the recession

Up and down arrows on wood chippingsThese are difficult times for the West Midlands. The recession is having a major impact on our people and our businesses.

In response, we have been involved in a range of analysis of current conditions and trends to inform the West Midlands Taskforce and other regional partners.

At the moment, we are producing a series of regular monitoring reports. These include contributions to the monthly economic briefings for the Taskforce, quarterly bulletins on the impact of the recession on the region’s population, skills and the labour market and the cultural sector.

We’ve also started publishing a regional analysis of the latest monthly unemployment figures. Continue reading

Economic contribution of the Third sector

Economic footprint coverRegional Action West Midlands have just released a piece of research mapping the economic footprint of the voluntary and community sector in the West Midlands.

According to the research:

  • The West Midlands’ voluntary and community sector brings an income of £3.3 billion into the region, totaling £512 for every person in the region.
  • Over 51,000 people are employed in the voluntary and community sector in the West Midlands across 14,430 organisations.
  • Just over half of the sector’s workforce is involved in social care and development.
  • Over 45 per cent of paid employees in the sector work in professional, technical and managerial positions, a similar profile to the private sector.

Unemployment in the West Midlands climbs again to almost a quarter of a million

Office for National Statistics logoLatest data released by the Office for National Statistics (pdf, 311kb) yesterday showed that the recession continues to hit the West Midlands particularly hard.

The official ILO measure of unemployment has now reached 9.3%, up from 6.3% a year ago. This is a full percentage point higher than any other English region and is two percentage points higher than the average rate for England.

The number unemployed in the West Midlands rose by 42,000 over the last quarter.

There are now 80,000 more unemployed people in the region than there were a year ago, taking the total close to a quarter of a million unemployed (246,000).

Continue reading

Medical technologies sector optimistic

My M-link, a Medilink West Midlands companyMedical and healthcare business opportunity organisation My M-Link recently polled its members about their business in this challenging economic time.

The results are a bit surprising and definitely worth considering in conversations around business support and government intervention. Hopefully, they can provide a more positive outlook for the media.

Continue reading

Latest recession research highlights contrasting fortunes of cultural organisations in the West Midlands

Curving celing at NEC BirminghamConsumers are behaving in unusual ways and this is having a conflicting impact on our region’s cultural venues.

While our visitor attractions are bucking the national trend and attracting more visitors, there continues to be cause for concern amongst architectural, advertising, arts and business tourism professionals, many of whom are battling against a tide of reduced business and cash availability.

According to new recession research (doc, 284kb) published this week by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory, regional visitor attractions may be benefitting from an increasing tendency for people to enjoy leisure pursuits closer to home.

Continue reading

Association of Research Observatories launch newsletter

Association of Regional ObservatoriesThe Association of Research Observatories published their first newsletter (pdf, 344kb) this month.

The May 2009 newsletter features news on how Regional Observatories across England are supporting policy making with better evidence.

Features include what the West Midlands might look like after the recession, and the launch of Insight East, the new economic intelligence centre for the East of England.

Continue reading

Guidance for local authorities undertaking research into culture

Stratford Royal Shakespeare theatre at nightEver read through a research report and wished that you could have the same types of information for the geographical area that you live and work in?

With this in mind, the West Midlands Cultural Observatory has just published a guidance paper (Word, 226KB) aimed at local authorities in the West Midlands who want to replicate the research presented in the two recent evidence papers:

This includes, for example, research into:

  • Numbers of people employed by cultural and creative industries.
  • Rates of participation in cultural pursuits such as visits to museums and art galleries and participation in sport.
  • Cultural attractions based in the area.

Continue reading