Metropolitan West Midlands remains the UK’s poorest sub-region in latest gross disposable household income estimates

Office for National StatisticsThe 2008 Regional Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) (pdf, 113kb) estimates are released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Indexed GDHI per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2008 was 90, stable in comparison to the revised 2007 index value of 90.

GDHI per head in the West Midlands rose from £12,800 in 2007 to £13,300 in 2008, an increase of 3.8 per cent, in line with the increase seen in England and the UK.

Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head is preferred to Gross Value Added (GVA) per head as a measure of economic welfare.

In the 2008 data, the West Midlands in regards to GDHI per head was ranked seventh amongst the nine English regions. London is the strongest performer at £19,000 and the North East is the least strong at £12,500.

In total, regional GDHI for the West Midlands region in 2008 was £72.2bn, an increase of £3.0bn on the revised figures for 2007.

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Breaking into the Low Carbon Economy

Car breakers and recyclers, along with the construction industry, could benefit significantly from existing and future low carbon legislation according to research from the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

The low carbon agenda is gaining pace as the West Midlands seeks a way out of recession, because of the range of opportunities that it provides.

In a low carbon economy businesses deliver products and services, while reducing their level of carbon emissions. We tend to link the low carbon economy with high-tech industry and high levels of innovation, technology and investment. However, the Observatory’s research has found that the opportunities stretch well beyond hydrogen cells, solar panels, electric cars and science parks. There are a number of opportunities for the rest of the region’s economy.

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Continuing professional development company uses Regional Skills Assessments to inform their research

Recently, I interviewed Kim White, a member of our Economy & Labour Force topic group, about his use of the Regional Skills Assessment to direct the work of his organisation.

In October 2008, Kim, Chief Executive of Intelligent Career Development Limited (also known as i-CD) and was given the task by the Vice Chancellor of Wolverhampton University to set up a company specialising in Continuing Professional and Personal Development (CPPD).

i-CD is the result of a project conducted to identify the most effective way for the University to provide support to businesses in the area of CPPD. i-CD specifically works to develop courses and schedules which students and employers, in the workplace, find useful and relevant.

Kim used a variety of sources to help inform his research into the needs of employers and students, and to identify potential gaps within the CPPD marketplace.

The Regional Skills Assessment 2007 (pdf, 714kb), published by the West Midlands Regional Observatory, was one such source.

Kim said that the Regional Skills Assessment 2007 helped him to identify:

  • The need to train and upskill more employees to NVQ level 4 and above
  • The barriers to engagement in employment and learning (such as encouraging more students and graduates to remain in the West Midlands after graduation)

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Implications of 2009 research and development scoreboard for West Midlands

The 2009 R&D Scoreboard, produced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, examines the research and development spending of 1,000 UK companies. Dubbed the UK1000, these are the businesses which invested the largest amounts in R&D.

The Scoreboard does not measure total research and development spending, merely the biggest investors, so some substantial businesses (not to mention the wider business population) are not captured in the figures.

The Scoreboard also considers the top 1,000 companies globally (G1000), which includes only a subset of the UK1000, in order to make international comparisons.

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Better Evidence… Better Funding Bids event roundup

The Observatory and Regional Action West Midlands jointly organised Better Evidence… Better Funding Bids, an event held in Birmingham on 19th March.

The aim of the event was to highlight the importance of evidence in funding applications. 50 delegates from a range of voluntary and public sector organisations attended the day.

This post rounds up videos, presentation slides, links and reaction to the event.

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New report sheds more light on West Midlands geography

In the public sector, many of our policies, strategies and services follow administrative boundaries such as regions, local authorities, police force areas, primary care trusts or even wards.

But out there in the real world, people don’t live their lives as neatly as that. Many people live in one place and work, learn or shop in others. Businesses too have customers and suppliers from many different places.

Whilst every person, and every business is different, understanding the patterns in these kinds of links between places is important.

For example, when analysing the local labour market it is no good just looking at the people who live locally if many local workers come from elsewhere.

Understanding “functional geographies” has always been important but the issue’s profile has been raised in recent times as government has sought to devolve more responsibility for economic development to sub-regional and local areas.

Over the next year all upper tier and unitary local authorities will need to produce Local Economic Assessments. Government guidance says that these will need to “identify the economic linkages within the area assessed and between it and the wider economy.”

In preparation for this, the Observatory has just published a report looking at some of the key sub-regional links between places in the West Midlands.

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Evidencing third sector funding bids

This is a guest post by Sian McClure, Information & Communications Manager at Regional Action West Midlands.

Regional Action West Midlands was pleased to be involved in hosting the Better Evidence… Better Funding Bids event with the West Midlands Regional Observatory last Friday.

As well as including a great group of delegates, the event meant we could promote our recent research to some new faces. We’ve published some important research over the last 12 months, which includes The economic footprint of the voluntary and community sector in the West Midlands, and a series of briefings on the impact of the recession on the sector.

Securing funding is a perennial issue for the third sector, and forthcoming public sector cuts will only make it more difficult. This makes the use of relevant, timely and appropriate evidence critical to funding applications.

As Manisha Patel and Laura Moore from the Big Lottery Fund, and Pete Cunnison from Lloyds TSB Foundation were clear, evidence needs to match the funders’ priorities. Right now, being clear about funders’ priorities and having the evidence to show how and why your organisation can meet them is more important than ever. In other words, none of us can afford to ‘wing it.’

After Easter, Regional Action West Midlands will publish a seventh briefing under the banner ‘Responding to the Downturn’, which will provide some of this much-needed clarity to third sector organisations.

For more information about Regional Action West Midlands and the work we do to support the third sector in the West Midlands visit or email sianm [at]


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