1. Health state life expectancies
Life expectancies for both males and females in Somerset remain around a year higher than UK averages in latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
In the period 2015 to 2017, males in Somerset had a life expectancy of 80.4 years at birth while females had a life expectancy of 84.1 years. Since 2009-11, male life expectancy at birth has increased by 0.5 years, and female life expectancy has increased by 0.4 years.
Females can expect to live a greater number of years in poor health than males. In Somerset in 2015-17, healthy life expectancy (‘HLE’) at birth was 64.7 years for males and 65.6 years for females. So, males could expect to live 81% of their lives is good health, compared to 78% for females.
Somerset ranks 40th best of 150 local authority areas in terms of male HLE at birth and ranks 37th best in terms of female HLE.
For the full dataset, see: https://www.ons.gov.uk/releases/healthstatelifeexpectanciesuk2015to2017
2. Children in Poverty
An estimated 11,950 children in Somerset (aged under 16) are considered to be living in poverty according to latest figures from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This equates 12.9% of all children, or 1 in 8 of the child population. Somerset’s rate remains well below the England average rate of 17.0%.
The ‘Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure’ considers the proportion of children living in families either in receipt of out-of-work benefits or in receipt of tax credits with a reported income which is less than 60% of national median income. It presents a broad proxy for the relative low-income measure as used in the Child Poverty Act 2010. The latest dataset is a snapshot as of 31st August 2016 (the time lag being due to reconciling tax credit figures).
At a local level, Glastonbury St Benedict’s ward now has the highest proportion of children in low-income families in Somerset (26% of the child population), followed by Bridgwater Hamp (25%) and Highbridge & Burnham Marine (24%). Trull ward (in Taunton Deane) has the lowest proportion (at 2%).
For the full dataset, see: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/personal-tax-credits-children-in-low-income-families-local-measure-2016-snapshot-as-at-31-august-2016
3. Children in out-of-work benefit households
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has released its latest annual snapshot of children living in out-of-work benefit households, representing an alternative (slightly more timely) proxy indicator of child poverty.
As at 31 May 2017 there were 13,300 Somerset children (aged 0-18) living in out-of-work benefit households, an increase of 850 children on the previous year. Nationally, numbers of children in out-of-work households have continued to follow a downward trend.
At a local (ward) level, Highbridge and Burnham Marine had the highest number of children in out-of-work households (525), followed by Bridgwater Fairfax (465) and Bridgwater Hamp (430). Conversely, two wards (Blackdown and West Quantock) recorded fewer than 5 children.
The largest year-on-year increases were seen in Highbridge & Burnham Marine, North Petherton and West Monkton, likely driven by overall population growth in these areas.
4. School-age children profiles: 2018 update
Public Health England has updated its school-age profiles for 2018, bringing together a range of indicators on the health and well-being of school-aged children by local authority area:
Somerset performs better than, or similar to, national average benchmarks in respect of the majority of indicators, including levels of obesity, under 18 conceptions and road traffic casualties.
Indicators for which Somerset appears worse than national benchmarks include hospital admissions due to injuries; primary school fixed-period exclusions; and the proportion of pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. Data is based largely on the 2016/17 period.
5. Small Area Domestic Electricity and Gas usage estimates
Latest estimates from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy demonstrate wide variations in household energy consumption. The estimates are available for every LSOA (Lower-layer Super Output Area) and are aimed at supporting energy efficiency and carbon reduction schemes.
Areas with the highest average electricity usage are predominantly rural. In 2017, overall mean domestic electricity consumption was 53% higher in Somerset’s rural villages than in urban areas (5,403kWh per electricity meter compared to 3,535kWh per meter).
Similarly, mean domestic gas consumption was around 41% higher in rural villages and hamlets than in urban areas of Somerset (15,134kWh per meter compared to 10,734kWh per meter).
For the full dataset, see: www.gov.uk/government/collections/sub-national-electricity-consumption-data#lsoa/msoa-data
6. Households not on the Gas Network
West Somerset has the fourth (equal) highest rate of households with no access to mains gas of any local authority in England according to latest (2017) estimates from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Only the Isles of Scilly, Eden and Mid Suffolk have higher proportions.
The proportion of ‘non-gas’ households within Somerset ranges from 17% in Taunton Deane district to 45% in West Somerset. For Somerset as a whole, an estimated 64,000 households are not on the gas network, and are therefore reliant on alternative (generally, more expensive) sources of fuel.
7. House Price statistics
Mendip continues to have the highest median house price in Somerset, according to latest ‘small area’ figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The median price paid for a dwelling in Mendip in the year to June 2018 was £253,000. West Somerset had the next highest median price (£236,560), followed by Taunton Deane (£220,000), South Somerset (217,500) and Sedgemoor (208,000). Seven of the top ten wards in Somerset in terms of median house price were in Mendip.
Compared to the same period five years ago, median house prices in Somerset have increased by between 22% (Taunton Deane) and 38% (Mendip). Nationally, prices have increased by 27% over the period.
West Monkton ward (Taunton Deane) and Yeovil Without (South Somerset) continue to see the highest numbers of residential property sales (269 and 264 respectively in the year to June 2018), while Brendon Hills (West Somerset) and Crowcombe and Stogumber (West Somerset) continue to see the fewest sales (9 and 12 sales respectively).
8. Railway Station Usage
Passenger numbers increased in seven of Somerset’s ten railway stations in 2017/18 compared to the previous year, in estimates published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Overall, there were 3,138,494 passenger entrances and exits at Somerset stations during 2017/18, marginally higher than the figure in 2016/17 (up 0.6%). Highbridge & Burnham and Castle Cary stations saw the largest percentage increases in passenger numbers (up 3%). Declines were seen at Yeovil Pen Mill (down 3%), Yeovil Junction (down 6%) and Templecombe (down 10%).
Taunton station continues to account for nearly half of station usage in Somerset, with 1.46 million entries and exits, making it the 13th busiest station in the South West. Bristol Temple Meads (11.4 million), Bath Spa (6.4 million) and Swindon (3.6 million) have the highest usage in the region.
Overall, railway station usage in Somerset has more than doubled since 2001/02, mirroring a national upward trend.
9. Total Benefit Expenditure
Following successive years of increase, total expenditure on welfare benefits in Somerset was broadly unchanged in 2017/18, at £1,539 million, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): www.gov.uk/government/collections/benefit-expenditure-tables
The State Pension currently accounts for two-thirds (67%) of benefit expenditure in Somerset, and is followed by Housing Benefit (8%), Employment and Support Allowance (6%) and Disability Living Allowance (5%). Nationally, 55% of DWP benefit expenditure relates to the state pension.
10. Forthcoming Statistical Releases
The following are due for release at sub-regional geographies during January:
- Birth characteristics in England and Wales: 2017 (ONS)
- Local authority housing statistics: year ending March 2018 (MHCLG)
- Rough sleeping in England: autumn 2018 (ONS)
- Research Outputs: Subnational dwelling stock by tenure estimates, England, 2012 to 2017 (ONS)
- Child development outcomes at 2 to 2 and a half years 2018 to 2019: quarterly data, experimental statistics (PHE)Patients Registered at a GP Practice, January 2019 (NHS)