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Vital Statistics

Researched and written by Mark Pierce, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland


Introduction Northumberland’s Vital Statistics is the first of a suite of three reports we have produced for the area: 

Northumberland’s Vital Statistics provides a baseline assessment of how the area is doing relative to the rest of England, Wales and Scotland.

Northumberland’s Vital Issues is a detailed research report containing an assessment of local needs and how the community and voluntary sector can make a difference with support from community philanthropists.

Northumberland’s Vital Signs is an easy-to-read summary of our findings designed to raise awareness and stimulate discussion and action.

Northumberland’s Vital Statistics measures local conditions against a set of 10 Vital Signs themes and related indicators agreed by the national Vital Signs Working Group made up of Community Foundations from across the UK. The indicators are compiled by Local Futures ( Local Futures is a research and strategy consultancy which supports organisations to gain insight into the economic, social and environmental characteristics of places via a suite of online data, toolkits and resources called Local Knowledge. Northumberland’s Vital Statistics incorporates grades showing how the area is performing relative to the rest of England, Scotland and Wales against each theme indicator. The grades are awarded according to the following criteria: Relative national position against the indicator In best performing 20% In best performing 40% In middle 20% In worst performing 40% In worst performing 20%

Grade A B C D E


The table below gives the Vital Signs themes, indicators and grades for Northumberland: Theme Labour market Tackling disadvantage and exclusion



Education and skills Arts and culture

Strong Communities Environment

Health and well-being Economic Performance

Details of national Vital Signs indicator The employment rate of the resident working age population is used as an overall measure of labour market performance. Source: Annual Population Survey, 2012 The standard measure of disadvantage and inequality in England is the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). We assess a number of aspects of deprivation, including disadvantage in education; income; employment; health; and housing. In addition we use an inequality indicator designed to highlight any large differences in deprivation; this can illuminate pockets of deprivation at the small area level within the wider area. The inequality indicator is measured as the difference between the highest and lowest ranking super output area (SOA) at each geographical level. Source: LA Summaries ID, 2010 Housing is considered in terms of affordability (assessed on the basis of the ratio between average earnings and average house prices), tenure and housing condition information. Source: Property Prices; Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2012 A composite Safety Score is used which incorporates a number of crime related indicators, including total offences per 1000 residents, vehicle crime, violent crime, burglaries and the change in total offences over time. Source: Recorded crime for seven key offences and CSEW comparator: Local Authorities, 2011/12 We use a composite measure based on each of the four NVQ levels, with greater weighting attached to the higher levels. We incorporate GCSE rates, as a precursor to the future potential workforce and a measure of the quality of local schools. Source: Annual Population Survey 2012 We assess local amenities in terms of a combination of indicators, including the density of national heritage sites and listed buildings, the availability of cultural amenities (such as cinemas, theatres and libraries), retail floorspace and employment in hotels and restaurants. The level of local amenities is important for a good quality of life for local residents, making an area an attractive place to live and for tourists to visit. In addition, we consider employment in creative industries and the proportion of the resident population employed in creative occupations. Source: Local Futures, 2013 Electoral turnout is the agreed indicator for this theme Source: 2010 General Election

Grade C C






This is assessed in terms of areas of outstanding natural beauty, green space, green belt and heritage coast. We also consider tranquility and weather. These are brought together to form an overall natural environment score. In addition, we have considered the Ecological Footprint and Carbon footprint of the area, as measures of environmental sustainability.Source: Census 2011; Road Lengths Statistics in Great Britain; Index of Multiple Deprivation; Generalised Land Use Database


We refer to a number of health indicators, including life expectancy, expected prevalence of smoking and obesity, infant mortality and standardised mortality ratios. Economic Performance is measured here in terms of productivity, scale and growth of the economy in Tyne & Wear. Productivity measures the relative performance of the economy in an area, by combining Gross Value Added (GVA) per head with workplace earnings. In contrast, economic scale examines the absolute size of the economy and is derived from an area's share of Great Britain’s total GVA and employment base. Finally, economic growth is assessed by an area's change in total employment, giving an indication of the growth/decline of the local economy. Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings; GVA by NUTS 3



These grades enable comparisons to be made nationally about how the various Vital Signs areas are doing. However they are something of a blunt instrument, and the low grades for Arts and Culture and Economic Performance certainly merit further analysis. In addition such a limited range of indicators cannot offer an adequate basis for enabling us to understand the state of Northumberland or Tyne & Wear, and nor do they tell us much about where there is a need for philanthropic action. Consequently we use different criteria to calculate grades for inclusion within Northumberland’s Vital Issues and Northumberland’s Vital Signs. These are informed by a richer body of quantitative and qualitative data and our own assessment of the urgency and scope for philanthropic action. The grades awarded reflect our assessment of the overall situation within our areas and are set according to different criteria as summarised in the following table: Our assessment of the situation within the area Everything is great. Let’s keep things that way! Things are going well, but we can make them better The situation is OK, but could be improved Things aren’t going very well. We should take action as soon as possible Things are going very badly. We must act now!

Grade A B C D E


Northumberland’s Vital Statistics  
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