New report sheds more light on West Midlands geography

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.

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Feeling SNUG?

upward-trend-3d-chart-web-res_v10_image_gw2Do you regularly use statistics and data for analysis at sub-national level? Do you have trouble finding or accessing the right information? Does the data you need exist at the geography you need it?

The Statistics User Forum, Association of Regional Observatories (ARO) and Office for National Statistics are exploring the interest in setting up a Sub-National data User Group (SNUG) to represent users of data at regional, sub-regional and local level. The group would be a place to share issues, put questions to data providers, and have a say on what works and what needs improving.

The Association of Regional Observatories are looking for volunteers to attend a brief meeting, to look at the issues that the group might address, and to shape a programme of meetings (perhaps 2 or 3 a year) which would be open to all.

So, if you have valuable experience you’d like to share, which could help highlight the issues and improve matters, they would like to hear from you.

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