1. Road Traffic Volume statistics
The volume of traffic on Somerset’s roads declined marginally in 2018 according to estimates from the Department for Transport. This followed five successive year-on-year increases.
A total of 4,310 million vehicle miles were travelled in Somerset during 2018, compared to 4,321 million vehicle miles in 2017. The South West region also experienced a marginal year-on-year decline, while nationally there was a slight increase in volume.
Historically, traffic volumes in Somerset rose steadily between 1993 and 2008, before declining through to 2012, then rising again. Overall volumes are currently 8% higher than a decade ago and 30% higher than 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, additional data from the Department for Transport indicates that there are now 4,225.4 miles of road in Somerset, representing the 13th longest network of any local authority area in Great Britain. This comprises 32.6 miles of motorway, 445.0 miles of ‘A’ roads and 3,747.8 miles of minor roads.
2. Dwelling Stock statistics
The number of domestic dwellings in Somerset increased by 2,640 to a total of 256,490 in the year to April 2018, according to figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (HMCLG). The largest annual growth was seen in Taunton Deane (870 dwellings), followed by Mendip (680), South Somerset (570), Sedgemoor (430) and West Somerset (100).
Approximately 86% of dwellings in Somerset are currently in the private sector and 14% in the public sector.
It may be noted that a count of ‘dwellings’ is not the same as a count of ‘households’, in that at any point in time some dwellings will be empty.
3. Population by Country of Birth and Nationality
There are approximately 43,000 non-UK born people resident in Somerset, according to latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This represents 8% of the county’s population, well below the national average of 14%.
An estimated 28,000 Somerset residents were born in a European Union member state, of which the large majority (8 out of 10) are of working age (aged 16 to 64).
In terms of national identity, an estimated 35,000 Somerset residents identify themselves as non-British, representing 6% of the county’s population. This compares to 9% of the population nationally.
For the full dataset, see: www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration
4. Internet User and Non-User estimates
An estimated 93% of adults in Somerset have used the internet in the last three months according to latest annual figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on the period January to March 2019.
Nevertheless, an estimated 32,000 adults (aged 16 and over) in Somerset have never used the internet or have not used it in the last three months.
National analysis continues to identify key non-users as people aged 75 or over (of which 47% have never used the internet) and people with a disability (of which 18% have never used the internet).
5. Health Inequalities analysis
Life expectancy for males in Somerset is 4.9 years lower in the most deprived fifth of areas compared with the least deprived fifth of areas, while life expectancy for females is 3.9 lower, according to latest estimates from Public Health England’s health inequalities segment tool. Nationally, average gaps are wider, at 7.7 year and 6.1 years respectively. Information is based on the period 2015-17.
For both sexes, more than half of the gap in life expectancy in Somerset was due to higher mortality rates from circulatory disease, cancer and respiratory disease in the most deprived fifth of areas.
For males, a quarter of the gap (25.6%) was due to higher mortality rates from circulatory disease in the most deprived fifth of areas. For females, higher mortality rates from cancer in the most deprived fifth of areas made the largest contribution to the gap (29.5%)
6. Coroners Statistics
A total of 2,826 deaths were reported to the coroner in Somerset in 2018, an increase of 5% compared to 2017, according to figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Nationally, there was a 4% decline in deaths reported to coroners.
A total of 261 inquests were opened in Somerset in 2018, 5% fewer than in 2017. The MoJ attributes declines in numbers of inquests to the removal of the requirement to report Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DoLS) deaths to coroners.
Male deaths accounted for 69% of all inquest conclusions recorded in Somerset in 2018, suggesting that males are more likely to die in circumstances that lead to an inquest. Road traffic collisions had the highest ratio of males to females (82% v 18%), followed by industrial disease (79% v 21%) and suicide (76% v 24%).
7. Military Personnel Statistics
The number of Regular Forces personnel based in Somerset has declined marginally to 3,230 in the latest count published by the Ministry of Defence (as of 1st April 2019). This represents a fall of approximately 130 personnel on the figure a year earlier.
Meanwhile, numbers of MOD civilian personnel in Somerset have remained broadly consistent. On 1st April 2019, there were 1,420 civilian personnel located in the county, based on Full Time Equivalents (FTEs).
These trends in personnel numbers are consistent with the national picture.
8. Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey results
Latest annual results of the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey have been released by the Ministry of Defence, monitoring the views of armed forces personnel in areas such as childcare, employment, family life, accommodation and the Armed Forces Covenant.
Findings from the latest survey include:
- 77% of armed forces personnel have heard of the Armed Forces Covenant (unchanged from the previous survey in 2018)
- The proportion of personnel who agree members of the Armed Forces are valued by society remains at a historic low.
- 54% of service personnel are married and a further 21% are in long-term relationships.
For the full report, see: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/armed-forces-continuous-attitude-survey-2019
9. Foodbank Usage statistics
The Trussell Trust has reported a 10% increase in the number of food parcels it distributed in the South West region in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18. During 2018/19, the Trust distributed a total of 132,510 three-day emergency food supplies to people in the region, of which 63% went to adults and 37% to children.
The Trussell Trust operates four foodbanks within Somerset. Locally, the Taunton Foodbank distributed 4,759 emergency food supplies during 2018/19, representing a decline of 2.9% on the previous year’s figure. The fall was attributed to a reduction in the number of ‘school holiday boxes’ distributed. Statistics for other foodbanks in the county are as yet unpublished.
The Trussell Trust estimates that their network of foodbanks accounts for approximately two-thirds of all foodbank provision in the country.
10. Development of a New Measure of Poverty
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced plans for a new statistical measure of poverty, with the aim of better understanding the nature and experience of poverty that families in the UK have. The DWP currently publishes annual ‘Households Below Average Income’ (HBAI) statistics as a proxy measure.
The new metric, developed by the Social Metrics Commission, accounts for the negative impact on people’s weekly income of inescapable costs such as childcare and the impact that disability has on people’s needs; and includes the positive impacts of being able to access liquid assets such as savings, to alleviate immediate poverty.
The Commission’s metric also takes the first steps to including groups of people previously omitted from poverty statistics, such as the homeless and those in overcrowded housing. The first statistics are due to be published in 2020.
11. Personal and Economic Well-being research
The Office for National Statistics has published insight into people’s self-reported levels of life satisfaction, based on the results of the Annual Population Survey.
Summary findings include:
- Self-reported health, marital status and economic activity have the strongest associations with how positively we rate our life satisfaction.
- Age is the personal characteristic most strongly related to life satisfaction, with younger people reporting higher life satisfaction; this falls in middle age and rises again in later years.
- How we spend our money also matters; comparing people with the same level of spending, those able to spend a higher share on experiences, such as hotels and restaurants, are more likely to be very satisfied with life than those spending more on food, insurance and mobile phone subscriptions.
For the full report, see: www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing
12. Forthcoming Statistical Releases
The following are due for release at sub-regional geographies during June:
- Fuel Poverty report: 2017 (DBE&IS)
- Local authority carbon dioxide emissions: 2017 estimates (DBE&IS)
- Internal migration by local authorities in England and Wales: mid-2018 (ONS)
- Early Years Outcomes dashboard (DfE)
- Local Authority School Places Scorecards 2018 (DfE)
- Local Health: June 2019 update (PHE)
- Traveller caravan count: January 2019 (MHCLG)