West Midlands rural areas hit particularly hard by recession

Aerial shot of rural WorcestershireThe Observatory’s Skills Team are working on an assessment of skills and labour market issues in the rural areas of the West Midlands on behalf of the Regional Skills Partnership and the Rural Affairs Forum.

While we expect to publish in April 2009, we can report now on emerging findings relating to the impact of the recession.

Rural areas of the West Midlands have out-performed the rest of the region in recent years in terms of business growth, new business formation and employment growth.

However, there remains a significant dependence on lower value added sectors and industries such as agriculture, manufacturing industries such as food and drink, construction, hotels and catering, and transport.

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Impact of economic downturn on Herefordshire

Herefordshire PartnershipJust over a week ago, the Herefordshire Information and Research Network held a seminar on the effect of the current economic downturn on Herefordshire.

Presenters at the seminar included Gill Swaithes of Herefordshire Council’s Research Team and Phil Vallely from JobCentre Plus.

For those not at the seminar, the presentations are available from Herefordshire’s website. The presentations provide a useful insight into how the developing downturn is impacting employment, housing, tourism and crime.

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West Midlands local development annual monitoring reports

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires local planning authorities to regularly monitor planning policies that affect the planning and development of their areas.

Each council is required to produce an Annual Monitoring Report which is published in December to assess the effectiveness of policy in the Local Development Framework.

These show whether the progress towards targets and milestones in the Local Development Framework are being met and whether council planning policies are being successfully implemented. If policies are not working as intended – or are not achieving sustainable objectives – the Annual Monitoring Report includes suggested actions.

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West Midlands produced 3rd strongest regional growth in England, according to latest GVA per head figures

Land Rover production lineThe 2007 Regional and 2006 Sub-Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) data are released today by the Office for National Statistics. Indexed GVA per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2007 was 86.0, a marginal decrease from the revised 2006 index value of 86.1. GVA per head in the West Midlands rose from £16,300 in 2006 to £17,200 in 2007, an increase of 5.3% compared to a 5.3% increase in GVA per head across the UK, and a 5.4% increase in England.

In the latest data for 2007 the West Midlands in regards to GVA per head is ranked seventh amongst the nine English regions, where London is the strongest performer at £30,400 and the North East is the least strong at £15,700. In total, regional GVA for the West Midlands in 2007 was £92.4bn, an increase of £4.9bn on the revised figures for 2006.

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Questionnaire on benefits of local information systems

Chart showing upward trendThis questionnaire is part of a research project, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, to investigate the way users of local information systems benefit from the data and statistics the systems provide. The aim of the questionnaire is to obtain information about how you use the system and the way it helps you.

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West Midlands Regional Integrated Economic Assessment published

Map of West Midlands regionThe West Midlands is the first English region to produce a Regional Integrated Economic Assessment. The aim of the project is to provide an assessment of the performance of the West Midlands’ economy and of the factors which contribute to it. It also assesses the relative position of the different parts of the region.

The Assessment is made up of:

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Local Area Agreements: The next generation

In June 2008, 150 new Local Area Agreements (LAA) were signed off by central government. A Local Area Agreement is a three year agreement, based on local Sustainable Community Strategies, that sets out the priorities for a local area.

The 14 strategic authorities in the West Midlands each have a Local Area Agreement.

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