SINePost newsletter - February 2020
Published: 28 February 2020 Author:
In this issue:
- Welfare Reform Impact Monitoring
- Hidden Somerset: Homelessness report
- Mortality Profile
- Jobs Density estimates
- Somerset Local Economic Assessment (LEA)
- Bus Passenger statistics
- Road Length statistics
- English Housing Survey results
- Forthcoming Statistical Releases
1. Welfare Reform Impact Monitoring
The latest in a series of annual monitoring reports looking at the local impact of welfare benefit changes is now available. Based on a range of national data sources, the report includes information on Universal Credit claimants; Council Tax collection; benefit capping; benefit sanctions; homelessness and the use of foodbanks:
The report finds that reform of the benefits system continues to impact on thousands of residents. However, latest annual data indicates a reduction of negative impacts in many issues, offset by some areas of concern. As last year, there remain some geographical variations, with some district areas bucking general countywide trends. Summary findings include:
- In 2018/19, Council Tax collection rates remained above the national average rate in all Somerset districts, although rates were generally below pre-welfare reform levels.
- Overall numbers of households subject to the Benefit Cap have continued to fall, following significant increases in 2017 (after the introduction of lower threshold levels).
- Numbers of households subject to the Spare Room Subsidy Reduction (SRSR) continue to decline. Nevertheless, the SRSR continues to account for the highest proportion of expenditure in terms of extra help for households through local authority Discretionary Housing Payments.
- Possession claims issued by landlords declined in 2018/19. Numbers of possession claims issued by mortgage lenders were generally static.
- Numbers of people sleeping rough are estimated to have declined.
- Numbers of individual insolvencies have increased.
- Universal Credit continues to roll out, but issues of delays in payments remain.
- The out-of-work Claimant Count has stabilised following marked increases in 2016/17 and 2017/18 (linked to the roll-out of Universal Credit and a broader span of claimants being required to look for work).
- Personal Independence Payments (PIP) continue to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), with numbers of PIP claimants now exceeding DLA claimants.
- Levels of demand for foodbanks run by the Trussell Trust in the South West have remained consistently high.
- Low income, benefit delays and benefit changes are cited as the most common reasons for foodbank use.
- Benefits advice continues to be the most common issue presented to Citizens Advice services.
2. Hidden Somerset: Homelessness report
Somerset Community Foundation has published the latest in a planned series of ‘Hidden Somerset’ reports, with a focus on homelessness. The issue is identified as complex and often hidden from view.
- Many of Somerset’s homeless people are sleeping in tents in the woods, in farm outbuildings, or in cars hidden from view and recent research estimates that around 62% of homeless people are ‘hidden homeless’.
- The life expectancy of someone sleeping rough in this country is just 47 years – 30 years younger than their peers, with rough sleepers ten times more likely to die than those of a similar age in the general population
- Tragically, four rough sleepers died in Somerset in 2018.
- One homeless drop-in centre in Taunton alone sees between 15-20 visitors every day, suggesting the actual number of rough sleepers is likely to be considerably higher than the official figure of 36.
For the full report, see: www.somersetcf.org.uk/news/352/73/New-report-reveals-true-scale-of-homelessness-in-Somerset
3. Mortality Profile
Public Health England (PHE) has updated its Mortality Profile interactive tool with latest data covering the period 2016 to 2018. The tool brings together a range of indicators from other PHE profiles, with the aim of making it easier to assess outcomes across a range of causes of death. It contains indicators which were previously available in PHE’s ‘Longer Lives’ tool (which has now been removed).
Overall, Somerset performs in line with, or better than, national averages in respect of the great majority of mortality indicators. The one exception is suicide (and specifically male suicide) where the Somerset rate appears significantly worse than the national average rate.
For the full profile, see: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/mortality-profile
4. Jobs Density estimates
There are estimated to be the equivalent of 0.89 jobs for every Somerset resident aged 16 to 64 according to latest annual (2018) jobs density figures from the Office for National Statistics. This represents an increase on the 0.87 figure a year earlier, driven by a rise in jobs in Sedgemoor.
Within Somerset, the Somerset West and Taunton district has the highest jobs density (0.93), followed by Mendip (0.89), South Somerset (0.88) and Sedgemoor (0.83).
A jobs density of 1.00 means that there is one job for every resident aged 16 to 64. Within the South West region, only Exeter, Cotswold, North Devon, South Hams and Tewkesbury have a jobs density figure of 1.00 or greater.
For the full dataset, see: www.nomisweb.co.uk/articles/1148.aspx
5. Somerset Local Economic Assessment (LEA)
Somerset County Council’s Economy and Planning Team has launched a new website, ‘Somerset Trends’, providing data and analyses on economic and social trends within the county.
The new website fulfils the function of Somerset’s Local Economic Assessment (LEA), following previous document-type publications (in 2011, 2013 and 2016). The new online format aims to present data in a more interactive way, as well as allowing users to interrogate the data for their own purposes.
6. Bus Passenger statistics
The number of passenger journeys on local bus services in Somerset declined to an estimated 6.3 million in 2018/19, in figures published by the Department for Transport.
At 11.3 journeys per head of population, Somerset continues to have the lowest rate of local bus passenger journeys in the South West region, and the 5th lowest rate in England as a whole. In the South West region there were 38.9 passenger journeys per head of population in 2018/19.
7. Road Length statistics
The Department for Transport has published updated figures on road lengths, indicating a total of 4,230 miles of road in Somerset. This represents the twelfth longest network of any local authority area in England.
Somerset’s road network comprises 32.6 miles of motorway, 445.5 miles of ‘A’ roads and 3,751.9 miles of minor roads. In the last ten years, the county’s road network has been increased by approximately 25 miles (0.6%).
8. English Housing Survey results
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 2018/19 survey report include:
- After more than a decade of decline, the proportion of 25-34 year olds in owner-occupation has increased and there are now almost equal proportions of 25-34 year olds living in the private rented and owner occupied sectors.
- Over the last decade, the proportion of people aged 55-64 living in the rented sectors has increased.
- Under-occupation – i.e. having two or more spare bedrooms – has increased over the last 20 years, but only among owner occupiers. The proportion of renters living in under-occupied accommodation has declined.
- Owner occupiers and residents living in newer houses or high-rise flats were most likely to report overheating.
9. Forthcoming Statistical Releases
The following are due for release at sub-regional geographies during February:
- Annual Rough Sleeping Snapshot in England: Autumn 2019 (MHCLG)
- Cold Weather Payment estimates: 2019 to 2020 (DWP)
- Local Alcohol Profiles for England: February 2020 data update (PHE)
- Public health outcomes framework: February 2020 data update (PHE)
- Destinations of KS4 and 16 to 18 (KS5) students: 2018 (DfE)
- Benefit cap: number of households capped to November 2019 (DWP)
- EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics, December 2019 (Home Office)
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