Local Enterprise Partnerships need to act to reinvigorate the private sector

Distilling machine CERAM Stoke-on-Tent

Weaknesses in the structure of the West Midlands economy mean that it was hit particularly hard by the recent recession and is likely to see further job losses over the next five years.

Our latest briefing paper (pdf, 408kb), produced as part of our West Midlands Skills Assessment 2010, reveals that the West Midlands has a weaker private sector than other parts of the country. The West Midlands has poorer representation of higher value added activities and high growth firms with the potential to create new, skilled jobs.

As a result the West Midlands has seen its share of jobs in the public sector rise more rapidly than anywhere else in the country. It is particularly vulnerable to job losses from the spending cuts announced by the government.

We forecast that West Midlands Gross Value Added (GVA) will grow by only 8% (£8.8 billion) between 2010 and 2015 and there will be a net fall in employment of more than 38,000 people.

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What will spending cuts mean for the West Midlands?

Tomorrow sees the long awaited publication of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. It will end months of speculation by setting up where the cuts in government spending will fall and how deep they will be. But what might it all mean for the West Midlands?

To try and answer this question, the Observatory has carried out a number of pieces of work over the last few weeks. These are summarised in a new report published today.  Amongst its findings are that:

  • An estimated £43 billion as spent on public services in the West Midlands in 2008-09 and the public sector employed nearly half a million people
  • More than 80,000 public service jobs could be lost in the West Midlands by 2016
  • Up to 300,000 private sector jobs are at risk due to spending cuts, although actual job losses will be lower than that
  • The places which will be hardest hit in the short term are those with concentrations of public sector jobs, such as Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Dudley, Shrewsbury, Stafford, Wolverhampton and Worcester
  • In the longer term, some of these places are likely to recover well, but others will continue to suffer because they have weaker economies. Places most vulnerable in the longer term include Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Wyre Forest (Kidderminster)

The report draws on information from a number of other reports published by the Observatory in recent weeks. These include a briefing paper on the local impact of public sector job cuts, a series of projections based on our Policy Assessment Model and a report identifying locations vulnerable to cuts in public sector spending.

Local impact of public sector job cuts featured on BBC Politics Show

Andy Phillips interviewed for BBC Politics Show

In advance of the government’s spending review announcement on Wednesday 20 October, the BBC Politics Show West Midlands discussed the impact of public sector job losses in the West Midlands.

They interviewed Andy Phillips, Head of Skills Research at the Observatory, and featured our recent briefing paper which examines the local impact of public sector job cuts (pdf, 351kb).

The story is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for the next six days.

New ONS products to help child poverty analysis

Painting pictures of place series local profiles - centre for regional and local statistics - Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have created three products to assist understanding and analysis of child poverty in a locality, as part of  a collaborative project between the ONS East and West Midlands Regional Statisticians, and ONS Area Based Analysis.

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Equality Act 2010 comes into force 1 October – what does it mean?

The Equality Act 2010 brings together nine separate pieces of legislation into one single act simplifying the law and strengthening it in important ways to help tackle discrimination and inequality.

The coalition government announced on 3 July that the first wave of implementation of the Equality Act will take place on 1 October 2010. On this date, the vast majority of the act’s provisions will come into force. There are also some areas of the act which the government is still considering and may come into force at a later date.

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May said:

“By making the law easier to understand, the Equality Act will help business treat staff fairly and meet the needs of a diverse customer base. The law will be easier to understand and better able to protect people from discrimination.

“Implementing the Equality Act to the planned timetable makes clear our commitment to equality. A successful economy needs the full participation of all its citizens and we are committed to implementing the Act in the best way for business.”

To help people understand the new laws, the Government Equalities Office has prepared a series of summary guides: Equality Act 2010: what do I need to know?

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Policy Assessment Model (PAM)

There has always been a need for policy to be grounded in evidence, but at a time when money is becoming tighter across the public sector, that need becomes even greater. Resources must be targeted where they can make the most difference. Gaining understanding of the future impact of policy decisions is therefore invaluable.

Past experience and local knowledge can provide some of that understanding, but it can’t tell us everything about the future. That is where tools like the Observatory’s Policy Assessment Model (PAM) come in.

This short slidecast explains why the Policy Assessment Model (PAM) was developed, how it works and how it can be used.

View on viddler | Get slides (ppt,  651kb)

The Policy Assessment Model goes beyond standard forecasting tools (although it will produce forecasts). It allows the direct and indirect impacts of a wide range of policy options and scenarios to be modelled over the long-term, allowing more informed decisions. It is capable of modelling impacts on the economy, the population and the local authorities within the West Midlands.

The new optimists

Written by leading scientists from the West Midlands, The new optimists is a book detailing the reponses of over 80 scientists to the question”What are you optimistic about?”

The scientists who feature in the book are leading medics, life scientists, engineers, chemists, computer and digital media scientists, environmental and energy experts, all of whom work in the West Midlands.

The official book launch is on 14th September at a celebration dinner in Birmingham, on the evening of the first day of the 2010 British Science Festival which is being held in the city.