West Midlands particularly vulnerable to public sector job cuts

Public sector employment has grown significantly in recent years across the UK and has been the key driver of the economy’s expansion. But proposals announced by the government to make £83bn worth of cuts in public sector spending are forecast to lead to the loss of up to 600,000 public sector jobs across the UK over the next 6 years, according to a study1 by Oxford Economics.

The West Midlands economy is particularly vulnerable to the impact of the cuts. Between 1998 and 2008 (latest available figures), the West Midlands saw the most significant increase in dependence on public sector employment in the country2.

The share of jobs accounted for by the public sector increased from 22% in 1998 to 27% in 2008, a rise of 5 percentage points, bringing total public sector employment to some 637,000.

We forecast that between 2010 and 2016 there will be a net loss of nearly 50,000 jobs across the West Midlands and, based on the ratio of the number of private sector jobs dependent on public sector spending and the associated supply chain nationally, a further 310,000 jobs are at risk at private sector firms directly or indirectly reliant on public sector spending3.

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Local enterprise partnership proposals announced

56 proposals for local enterprise partnerships across the country have been submitted, the government has confirmed, following the closing day for submissions.

There are seven proposals from the West Midlands:

Three distinct responses in respect to cross boundary working arrangements have also been received from Peak District, South East England and West Leicestershire and Northern Warwickshire.

Here’s the full list of proposals.

Inward investment into the West Midlands 2009/10 – a local analysis

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Although these 88 investments represented the lowest number of jobs created or safeguarded since 1992/93, they also represented the 7th highest total number of projects since 1991.

Pie chart shows 38 inward investments in West Midlands metropolitan areas and 49 inward investments in the shire counties over 2009 to 2010Inward investment is usually spread reasonably evenly between the West Midlands metropolitan areas and the shire counties. In 2009/10 the shire counties attracted the majority of inward investment projects (55%). See left.

However, the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have attracted perhaps just over half of the projects over the years – see below. The number of jobs created and safeguarded also generally follows a similar pattern.

Stacked bar chart shows percentage of inward investments into West Midlands metropolitan areas versus shire counties between 1991 and 2010

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Government awards grant to boost town centres

Erdington artspace exhibitionThe government is making £3 million available to help areas hardest hit by the recession find creative ways to reduce the negative impact empty shops are having on the high street.

Coventry, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall councils are each being given a grant of £52, 632.

The councils will use the grants as they see fit to boost town centres and transform empty shops into a variety of places including learning centres, meeting places or a showroom for artists.

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Inward investment: record high for West Midlands

In the period 2008 to 2009 the West Midlands region received 117 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, a record high since records began in 1991 (shown by the blue line in the graph below).

Bar chart shows increase in foreign direct investment into the West Midlands between 1991 and 2009

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Tracking a plant disease across Cannock Chase using GISlp

GIS (Geographical Information Systems) is helping to track and treat a plant disease, previously unknown in the United Kingdom, which is infecting and killing bilberry across the northern part of Cannock Chase Country Park.

Bilberry plant showing symptoms of PhytophthoraStaffordshire County Council’s Environment and Countryside team, with help from many volunteers, have been surveying the outbreak of Phytophthora pseudosyringae in the bilberry on Cannock Chase.

This alga-like fungus can cause the rotting of roots of some deciduous trees in Europe, and is associated with the condition known as oak decline.

It is rare in the United Kingdom. Few previous records on the infection of bilberry seem to exist.

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Latest gross disposable household income estimates indicate metropolitan West Midlands is UK’s poorest sub-region

Office for National Statistics logoThe 2007 Regional Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) (Word, 411KB) estimates are released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Indexed GDHI per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2007 was 90, stable in comparison to the revised 2006 index value of 90.

GDHI per head in the West Midlands rose from £12,700 in 2006 to £12,900 in 2007, an increase of 1.9%, 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.

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