1. Birth Rates
The number of live births in Somerset declined for the second successive year in 2017, to a total of 5,367, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Numbers of births are currently at their lowest level for at least a decade, mirroring a national trend. Numbers of births peaked in Somerset in 2011, at 5,764.
In 2017, Somerset had a General Fertility Rate (GFR) of 62.1 live births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, above the England and Wales average of 61.0 per 1,000. At a district level the General Fertility Rate was highest in South Somerset (64.6) and lowest in West Somerset (55.6).
At a ward level, North Petherton (in Sedgemoor) and West Monkton (in Taunton Deane) saw the highest numbers of live births in 2017 (with 134 and 121 respectively), while West Quantock and Greater Exmoor saw the fewest births (numbering 4 and 5 respectively).
Meanwhile, the average age of mothers in England and Wales has now risen to 30.5 years, having increased each year since 1976.
2. Local Authority Health Profiles
Public Health England has published its latest annual assessment of health and well-being at a local (county and district) level, at:
Data is based largely on the 2016/17 period. Indicators for which Somerset county performs significantly better than the England average include: child obesity; breastfeeding initiation; physical activity in adults; and life expectancy (nevertheless, life expectancy is 5.5 years lower for men and 4.9 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of the county than in the least deprived areas.)
Indicators for which Somerset appears significantly worse than the England average include: hospital stays for self-harm; under 18s alcohol-specific hospital stays; and dementia diagnoses (of those aged 65+).
3. Living Longer – How our population is changing and why it matters
The Office for National Statistics has published an overview of population ageing in the UK, looking at some of the implications for the economy, public services, society and the individual:
The analysis identifies ageing as a cross-cutting issue with multiple economic, public service and societal impacts, for example, on pensions, social care, housing and well-being.
It also highlights how an ageing population can present opportunities both at a societal and individual level, for example, emergence of new markets, increased involvement in volunteering and community activism, longer working lives, and spending more time with family and friends.
4. Volunteering statistics
An estimated 25% of adults (aged 16+) in the South West take part in formal volunteering at least once a month, according to the latest annual ‘Community Life’ Survey from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Applying this proportion to Somerset’s population demographic would equate to around 115,000 adult volunteers.
Formal volunteering is defined as those giving unpaid help through an organisation or club. When looking at all volunteering (formal and informal), 71% of adults in the South West engaged at least once in the last year (up from 70% in 2016/17). This was the highest proportion of any English region.
For further details, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-life-survey-2017-18
5. Working and Workless Households
There are estimated to be 21,000 ‘workless’ households in Somerset in latest annual (2017) figures published by the Office for National Statistics. This represents 12.5% of all households. A workless household is defined as one containing at least one person aged 16 to 64 and where no-one aged 16 or over is in employment.
Somerset ranks 147th of 201 county and unitary authorities in Great Britain in terms of proportions of workless households. Somerset ranks 6th out of 15 authorities within the South West of England.
An estimated 8,000 children (aged under 16) in Somerset live in workless households, representing 9% of the child population. 31,000 children live in ‘mixed’ households (where at least one person works and one person is unemployed or inactive) and 49,000 children live in ‘working’ households (where all individuals are in employment). It should be noted that estimates are based on survey data and in some cases are not considered reliable for practical purposes.
For the full dataset, see: www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment/bulletins
6. Service Families Attitude Survey results
Latest annual results of the national Tri-service Families Continuous Attitude Survey have been released by the Ministry of Defence. The survey monitors the views of spouses and civil partners of armed forces personnel in areas such as childcare, employment, family life, housing and the Armed Forces Covenant.
Findings from the latest survey include:
- Awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant continues to improve amongst Service families: 67% had heard of the Covenant in 2018, compared to 66% in 2017.
- Half of Service families feel disadvantaged about family life in comparison to the general public; just one in ten feel advantaged
- 76% of spouses are in employment, with 9% also serving in the Regular Armed Forces.
- 52% of all families have at least one child of school age.
7. Armed Forces Veterans statistics
As at 31 March 2018, there were 7,366 Somerset residents in receipt of a pension under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS), an ongoing war pension under the War Pensions Scheme (WPS) and /or compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). Of these, 6,866 were veterans.
The data, published by the Ministry of Defence, indicates that almost half of Somerset veterans live in South Somerset (3,348 veterans), with Taunton Deane the next most common local authority area (1,243 veterans). This is followed by Sedgemoor (975), Mendip (972) and West Somerset (347).
The number of veterans living in the county continues to increase marginally year-on-year, with a 1% increase between 2017 and 2018.
8. English Housing Survey results
The results of the latest English Housing Survey have been published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The national survey, first run in 2008/09, aims to assess the ongoing circumstances and condition of housing in England.
Key findings from the 2016/17 survey include:
- The proportion of social renters who expect to buy a property has continued to increase. No such increase has been observed among private renters.
- Rates of overcrowding have not changed but remain higher in the rented sectors.
- Meanwhile, about half of owner occupied households are under-occupied.
- The energy efficiency of homes has increased considerably in the last 20 years, but did not increase between 2015 and 2016.
9. Personal Insolvency statistics
There were a total of 1,064 new cases of individual insolvency in Somerset in 2017, up from 959 cases during 2016, according to figures from The Insolvency Service. This represented a rate of 23.9 per 10,000 adult population, which was above the national average of 21.3 per 10,000. The figures combine Bankruptcy orders, Debt Relief orders and Individual Voluntary arrangements (IVAs).
At a district level, insolvency rates ranged from 21.0 per 10,000 adult population in West Somerset to 26.9 per 10,000 in South Somerset.
Numbers of individual insolvencies peaked in Somerset at 1,490 in 2009, at the time of economic recession.
10. Forthcoming Statistical Releases
The following are due for release at sub-regional geographies during August:
- Fire statistics incident level datasets (Home Office)
- Local area migration indicators, UK: 2017 (ONS)
- Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England April 2017 to March 2018 (NHS)
- Benefit sanctions statistics to April 2018 (DWP)
- Civil partnership statistics in England and Wales: 2017 (ONS)