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.
The report shows that there is no one definitive forumulation of a map of the sub-regions within the West Midlands, but rather a series of sub-regional geographies emerge based on the range of different issues and datasets considered.
The research will also be of use to those working on Local Economic Assessments and in sub-regional partnerships to identify relevant geographies for aspects of their work. It will help staff in local authorities and sub-regional partnerships to identify where they have relationships with neighbours and to inform them over issues where they may need to work together.
More work may be needed to understand local relationships and government has recent published guidance. Further ideas can be found in the Observatory’s State of the Region thematic report, Refreshing the Regional Evidence Base.
Download the research reports
Published 23rd March 2010
- Analysis of sub-regional dynamics in the West Midlands (pdf, 4.1mb)
- Methodological supplementary report (pdf, 193kb)
- Defining the West Midlands functional geographies: leisure and retail - report (pdf, 1.7mb)
- Defining the West Midlands functional geographies: leisure and retail - appendices (pdf, 1.5mb)
Filed under: Economy & Labour Force, Geographical Information, Maps, Research, West Midlands, West Midlands Regional Observatory Tagged: | economic research, evidence base, functional geographies, geography, local economic assessments, mapping, sub-regional, West Midlands