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This brief profile is based on the “Progress in the Region 2006” report, a copy of which is available on the Yorkshire Futures Website.
The overall position in the Yorkshire and Humber is that it is improving in many areas. The picture of the region is the most positive it has been for some years, with performance improving on twice as many indicators as it is deteriorating. There are encouraging improvements compared to the national average too, including in some key areas of the economy. A combination of a positive micro framework, investment and hard work in the region in line with its strategies is making an impact.
However, there remain difficult issues the region needs to address. It has identified five ‘landmark’ issues where there are persistent and problematic trends – transport, climate change, obesity, housing markets and affordability and potentially widening gaps and inequalities in some areas. These reflect national contexts and drivers as well as regional ones, and are areas that will have long term impacts that affect society, economy and environment. Focus and firm action will be required at all levels to turn around ingrained trends. A number of supplementary issues will also warrant attention, specifically violent crime and levels of higher level skills.
Employment rate has continued to rise, to 74.6%. This is a shade higher than the previous year and 2.7 points higher than baseline. The gap with the UK has also closed, with our rate now very close to the national average.
Economic growth: GVA increased to £14,928 per head – a considerable 5% rise on the previous year. This mirrored a similar rise nationally, with the Yorkshire and Humber’s GVA per head 87% of the England average – the same as in the baseline year.
Enterprise: Business Survival Rates - 69.8% of businesses now survive at least 3 years. This is 2.4% percentage points above baseline, and more significantly, has now risen from below the England average (68.8%) to above it.
Business Start Up Rates in the Yorkshire and Humber as indicated by VAT registrations are amongst the lowest in England. Three-year business survival rates are comparable to most other English regions.
Innovation; Government and HE R&D – Investment in R&D by the HE sector has remained the same as last year at 0.5% of GVA , but above the baseline of 0.4%. This is still the second equal best performance after London. Government investment in R&D has increased significantly, bringing it more into line with the national average.
The Rural Economy has benefited from a reduction in unemployment rate, and as with employment overall, has closed the gap to the national average. The picture on rural enterprise is more mixed, with more businesses starting up, but more closing too.
VAT registrations in 2004 averaged 32 per 10,000 resident adults in Yorkshire and The Humber compared to a UK rate of 39. There were 131,390 businesses registered for VAT in Yorkshire and the Humber at the start of 2005 – an increase of 1,745 over the previous year. This represented 7.2% of VAT registered businesses in the UK and 8.4% of the England total.
Traffic volumes in terms of vehicle kilometres has risen 10% since the baseline year, with no sign of the trend reducing and implications in terms of pollution and probable congestion. Despite having the biggest rises in rail patronage in the UK, the rise is faster than the England average.
Transport use in terms of the proportion using a car has risen faster than the equivalent figure nationally.
There has been good progress on land re-use, with the proportion of housing built on previously developed land now at 72% (excluding conversions) compared to a baseline of 51%, and well above the annual target. The rise between current and baseline levels of re-use is also higher than the national equivalent.
Housing completions were 461 above target, and at 15,266 over 1,600 higher than in the base year. Housing numbers are carefully prescribed, so whilst progress is positive from a housing stock point of view, there may be other viewpoints on the same data.
With house prices rising faster than household incomes, the trend on housing affordability has been negative. The ratio of average income to average house price has risen by almost 50% from 2.41 to 3.59. The position is not as severe as the national average but is moving towards it.
The region is making good progress in the area of bio-diversity with healthy increases in woodland birds being a more general pointer to the health of wildlife habitats. This is improving in Yorkshire and The Humber despite deteriorating nationally.
River and bathing water quality has continued to improve, both in absolute terms and in terms of closing on national average.
Air quality, measured in terms of days where pollution is ‘moderate’ or worse, was similar to the previous year and improved on the baseline, with 20 days in urban areas and 31 in rural exceeding this threshold. Improvement is more marked than nationally.
Education and Skills
The proportion of pupils gaining 5 good GCSEs is now 50.9% - above the baseline and a marked rise from 47.1% last year. The region remains at the foot of the ‘league table’ on this indicator but has improved faster than nationally.
The region has made strong improvements in the proportion of 19 year olds qualified to NVQ level 2+ (76,4%). This has extended the small gap above national average. Qualifications at NVQ level 3+ (A’ level or equivalent) have improved, with the region behind, but closing the gap to, national average.
The percentage without a qualification in the region has reduced from 13% in the baseline year to 9.9%. The trend is in line with that nationally, and there was no improvement on last year’s figure (9.7%).
Quality of Life
The Health of the Rural Economy Index has risen, with performance now 21% higher than the baseline. A RES-based urban renaissance indicator is under development.
Regional life expectancy has raised, slightly more for men than women, with male lift expectancy 75.8 years and female 80.4, and notable variations across communities too. The rise is of a similar scale to nationally.
Fear of crime (burglary) has fallen sharply and the gap to national average has closed.
Governance and Civic Participation
Voter turnout has increased in local and European elections, with innovations such as postal voting key to this. Progress on European elections in particular is notable, with turnout doubling between 2000 and 20004, and rising from below to above average.
On Governance, perceptions show that the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly’s own members view it positively, whilst Yorkshire Forward’s stakeholders were far more satisfied than dissatisfied. More Parish and Town Councils achieved quality status.
Quality of public services as measured by Comprehensive Performance Assessment shows a mixed but generally positive picture. Two Councils gained the highest 4 star rating and more than the national average (73%) gained either 3 or 4 stars. Just over half were improving strongly or well. However, there are a small, but higher than average, number of councils with low star ratings or inadequate improvements, and a similar proportion that nationally were graded as improving ‘strongly or well.’
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