How is the Rural Regeneration Zone doing?

This post shares key findings from our annual monitoring report on the Rural Regeneration Zone (RRZ) carried out over 2009 and 2010.  The final report will be published shortly.

Impact of project work

Since the RRZ was set up, the area has improved in many ways.  So far 1,400 new jobs have been created and 800 existing jobs have been safeguarded.  More jobs are expected to be created (1,500) and safeguarded (200) by 2015.

RRZ investment in multi-use facilities has also improved access to services.  The main improvements have been around:

  • Childcare provision – 845 more places each week
  • Volunteering opportunities – 165 more places
  • Library services – 37,700 more library projects
  • Development of new services – 98 new or enhanced services in towns and villages

Projects such as Connections to Opportunities, Rethink and Care Farming are delivering further improvements in the RRZ.  More details are included in the report.

Earnings and income

Excluding Malvern Hills, RRZ employment pays less than the regional average (by between £12 and £121 each week).  RRZ residents tend to be well paid though, which indicates they’re commuting for work.  Residence-based pay was at least £18 more a week in each RRZ authority than workplace pay.

GVA continues to increase across the RRZ, but lags behind the national and regional averages.  GVA per head is at least £2,000 lower than the regional average in the RRZ and £5,000 less than the national average in each county.

Over half the households in the RRZ had a low income in 2009.  Some concentrations of low income households were greater than in inner city areas and other rural areas.  Poorer households were mostly concentrated in Shropshire.

Employment in technology and knowledge intensive industries

Employment in knowledge-intensive and high and medium-high technology continues to increase in the RRZ and is growing at a faster rate (6.2% between 2006 and 2009) than the region (0.26%).

Skills levels

RRZ residents tend to be better qualified than residents elsewhere in the West Midlands.

For example 19.5% held a degree in the RRZ compared to 17.2% in the region in 2008/09.

The proportion of residents with no qualifications in the RRZ was also much lower (9.7%) than in the region (14.7%).

Further education and higher education

Nearly 19,000 adults took part in some form of adult learning in 2008/09 – this is 1,000 more adults than in 2005/06. This increase in learning was driven by an increase in Train to Gain enrolments.

Participation in higher education remained similar between 2005/06 and 2008/09 (2,199 people in 2008/09).

Economic inclusion

The RRZ is more economically included than the region.

For example, in May 2009, only 9.4% of residents were workless in the RRZ compared to 15.2% in the region.  However, pockets of the RRZ are less economically included.

Incapacity Benefit claiming is the biggest economic inclusion issue in the RRZ.  Claimant rates in some wards were nearly double the regional claimant rate.  These were mostly based in Shropshire.

Worklessness rates were higher for women than men. This is most likely because women with childcare responsibilities are counted as workless.

Economic downturn

The worst effects of the recession have bottomed out and the RRZ has avoided many of these.

The RRZ’s claimant rate (2.9% in February 2010) remains lower than the region (5.6% in February 2010). However, the claimant rate rose this year in both the RRZ and the region by 0.3 percentage points.

The effects of the recession are still being felt and it will take time for the economy to recover.

One Response

  1. The final report monitoring progress towards the strategic aims of the Rural Regeneration Zone’s implementation plan for 2009-2012 is now available:

    http://bit.ly/bwZqU5 (pdf, 3.08mb)

    In this report, we provided an assessment of the Rural Regeneration Zone’s performance four of nine key indicators of change, including: increase in average earnings; increase in employment in technology and knowledge-intensive industries; increase in the working age population with higher skill levels; increase in learners accessing further education or higher education provision within the regeneration zone.

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