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Walsall Strategic Needs Assessment (WSNA)

This topic page is an executive summary of the key findings resulting from the Walsall Strategic Needs Assessment (WSNA) 2014.

Download Walsall Stategic Needs Assessment (WSNA) - Key Findings May 2014 here

A Snapshot of Walsall - demographic backdrop

Walsall experiences slower than national population growth though this is in line with regional trends. Walsall has an increasingly dependent population - overall Walsall’s population is ageing and this will impact on demand for local public services, with the need to plan for a growing number of older people being a key priority for all partners. Walsall’s population is becoming more ethnically diverse and by 2011, 23.1% of residents were from a minority ethnic background; a significant increase on 14.8% in 2001.

Deprivation is deeply entrenched in Walsall and has worsened with the recession. There are extremes of deprivation, with central and western areas typically much more deprived than eastern areas, although pockets of deprivation exist even in the more affluent part of the borough. Walsall fares particularly badly in terms of education and skills; income and employment deprivation domains and many of the issues that challenge the borough match the geography of deprivation.

 

Section 1: Walsall Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)

Life expectancy in Walsall is generally lower than national averages, but especially for men and where those living in the most deprived wards die on average 10.8 years younger than those in affluent areas.

More people are living with preventable ill health and dying prematurely. The high prevalence of a range of preventable conditions presents a real challenge and requires a concerted effort from communities and public bodies working together to improve.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in the under-75s in Walsall, Coronary heart disease (CHD) is extremely common across Walsall and diabetes prevalence is high with incidence for all higher than nationally.

Substance misuse is higher than national averages with the borough experiencing high alcohol related harm across a number of health and wellbeing indicators, and a significantly higher rate of problematic drug users than nationally.

The estimated prevalence for smoking within the Walsall population is 22.7%, representing approximately 45,000 adults and smoking related deaths are significantly higher than national average.

Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges facing Walsall and the issues start from a young age as there are especially high levels of childhood obesity with 23% of year 6 children considered obese compared to 19% for England.

A key priority for all partners is the inevitable impact that Walsall’s ageing population will have on demand for a wide range of local public services, notably health and social care services, a heightened pressure when set against the backdrop of significant reduction in public sector funding.

The Healthy Life Expectancy in Walsall is about 60.3 year old this is 2.3 years lower than West Midlands and 3.4 years lower than England averages.

A range of measures demonstrate that older people in Walsall are high users of institutional care, an approach that neither promotes efficient use of limited resources, nor meets the individual identified needs of older people and their carers.

The number of Walsall residents with Dementia is a growing issue, likely to increase by 22.5% over the next eight years and this will put extra pressure on all public services in Walsall.

The loss of independence is a concern where there has been an increased number of falls in older people in Walsall; particularly those in institutional settings.

Walsall has a higher proportion of excess deaths amongst older people than the region as a whole, especially amongst women and those with underlying health problems yet many of these deaths are preventable.

Despite recent improvement Walsall still has significant numbers of households living in fuel poverty.

An increasing proportion of Walsall’s population care for someone with a long term illness; 10.6% in 2001 increased to 11.6% in 2011, whilst the national rate stayed the same.

Data shows that disadvantage starts at an early age in Walsall, with infant mortality being amongst the highest in the country, the rate of low birthweight babies is the highest, breastfeeding rates are low and the teenage conception rates remain high.

The borough’s Early Years Foundation Stage attainment levels are well below national average and improving this situation is a key priority. With writing; particularly amongst the boys, attainment across vulnerable groups i.e. children in or on edge of care, those with special needs all being key limiting factors for more pupils achieving a good level of development.

Overall attainment at Key Stages 4 (14-16 yr olds) and 5 (16-18 year olds) is starting to show signs of improvement. However, based on 2013 academic year results, there remains a gap in achieving what is regarded as the GCSE (Key Stage 4) ‘Gold Standard’ of each young person attaining 5 or more A*-C grades including English and Maths. Though the overall gap is narrowing it is exacerbated by issues regarding gender attainment and the achievement between the most vulnerable children and their peers which, though narrowing is still too wide.

Despite recent improvements in outcomes for KS5 pupils (16-18 year olds) attainment outcomes at Key Stage 5 lag behind national average.

Although the overall performance of pupils in Walsall schools has shown signs of steady but slow improvement in recent years; too few pupils (62%, compared to 76% nationally) attend Walsall schools that are judged as good or better by Ofsted.

Walsall’s total school absence rate has increased from 5.2% (2012) to 5.6% (2013), and rates are currently higher than our statistical neighbours
(5.3%) and national (5.2%) averages.

Walsall is committed to reduce harm to vulnerable children with a particular focus on reducing the impact and costs of Looked after Children including through meeting the right children’s needs in the right way and as early as possible.

 

Section 2: Economic Assessment

Walsall experiences an output gap in the local economy, which has worsened relative to the UK. The output of individual sectors shows a shift towards service
industries contributing the majority of the borough’s wealth, while the proportion of output from production (manufacturing and construction) has halved since 1997.

There is longstanding economic disadvantage, pre-dating the recent recession – which itself revealed an economy highly vulnerable to external shocks.

Walsall has a lower than expected number of active businesses, which contributes to a shortage of local employment opportunities. During the economic downturn the number of businesses fell due to fewer business start-ups and increased failure rates. Currently there are 7,210 active business enterprises in Walsall, meaning we require a 40% increase (almost 2,900 new businesses) just to bring us in line with national average for an area of this size.

The borough’s employment market is fairly self-contained. Residents are unlikely to commute long distances to work; two thirds of Walsall jobs are filled by Walsall residents. Increasing availability of jobs within Walsall is vital to support the local population into employment, since many adults, particularly those lower paid jobs; are generally unwilling to travel outside the borough to find work.

Low spending power leads to limited capacity to support businesses and to local provision of shops and services that is relatively unattractive compared to larger or more affluent places in surrounding areas.

In Walsall there is untapped potential in both local supply chains and in markets for Walsall companies to exploit. Only 3 in 10 Walsall companies have their main supply chain in the Black Country, meaning a considerable amount of potential supply chain spending is lost to the local economy.

In Walsall there are low numbers of adults actively participating in the labour market. Only 72.5% of working age adults in Walsall are economically active, whether they are already in employment or currently seeking work: nationally this is 78.0%. This leaves 43,100 adults aged 16-74 who are inactive in the labour market.

Walsall experiences high levels of dependency on out-of-work benefits, particularly those linked to ill-health – remaining above national levels despite recent improvements.

Over 1 in 7 Walsall adults 24,960 people (14.9%) are out of work and dependent on a key benefit.

Walsall has seen significant recent reductions in unemployment. However, levels are still well above national average, and numbers of youth and long-term jobseekers are of particular concern.

Adults across Walsall have generally low skills and qualification levels, leading to a shortage of appropriate skills for employment.

Average weekly earnings in Walsall are below national levels; partly a result of the lower numbers of local people employed in higher skilled occupations.

Large numbers of Walsall children (16,100 under 16’s) are living in families that are experiencing poverty.

Walsall’s locational advantages are sometimes hindered by its local transport network, so whilst Walsall enjoys a central location at the heart of the national transport network, with good rail and road links and direct access onto the M6, there are local transport constraints that restrict movement within the borough, and reduce accessibility onto the strategic road network.

It is a challenge to provide a supply of suitable quality employment sites in Walsall.

In Walsall, there is a need for a housing offer that addresses the needs and aspirations for a choice of good quality and affordable housing; capable of responding to changing population, social and economic needs.

The Government’s planned welfare reforms represent the most fundamental changes to the benefits system in a generation.

Welfare Reform changes are having an impact on the borough and its residents, with resulting evidence of increased demand on local public services. The affects of which are set to continue to evolve as the national programme for delivery is being phased in.

 

Section 3: Safer Walsall Partnership Strategic Assessment

Overall crime levels have steadily declined over the last 10 years but reducing / controlling levels of crime remains a key outcome for our residents, and particular priorities for Safer Walsall Partnership include violence with injury, domestic burglary, business crime and addressing areas impacted by particularly high levels of crime.

• There has been an increase in recorded Violence with Injury (VWI) offences throughout the Borough and levels are increasing.
• In Walsall domestic burglary crimes have continued to reduce and levels are relatively well managed but as domestic burglary impacts on an average of 100 victims per month it remains, as shown in recent surveys, a specific Community Concern for our residents
• Given the economic climate and rising cost of living, notably food prices, business crime has increased slightly, most notably associated with ‘Theft Shop Stalls’
• The range of community safety issues varies across the borough but some areas in particular continue to experience disproportionately higher levels of crime and disorder than others and these are designated as Priority Areas where targeted action is needed to improve outcomes for residents.

Walsall is committed to reduce harm to vulnerable children and preventing Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a development priority across the West Midlands. Whilst CSE data sets are emerging, and the cohort impacted upon is small, there is clear evidence that within Walsall there are individuals who are vulnerable to CSE, cohorts of potential CSE offenders and locations which harbour CSE activity.

The picture of how Domestic Abuse impacts across the borough differs dependent upon partner agency and without a coherent single assessment in place understanding the overall trend is not made easy, but the proportion of referral rates to children’s social care as an outcome of this issue are routinely high.
Working in partnership to reduce the harm to vulnerable victims caused by Domestic Abuse continues to be a key priority.

Whilst reports of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) remain high in volume and the issue remains a key concern for residents, levels of police reported ASB have significantly reduced and partners are working together well to collectively improve how the issue is reported and dealt with, though Youth ASB and inconsiderate parking are issues of community concern. Whilst residents show concern about youth related ASB; the rate of young people being First Time Entrants to the Youth Justice System has actually decreased significantly in Walsall.

Walsall Partnership deliver good outcomes against offender management, but significantly during 2014, the national programme of change involving the abolition of Probation Trusts is significant and presents both a degree of vulnerability and opportunity locally in terms of ongoing management of offenders; a key priority.

There are a significant number of offenders who are committing crime in Walsall to fund their drug habit and both drug and alcohol dependency continues to account for significant crime as well as health and social cost impacts on the borough.

Despite Walsall’s increasing ethnic diversity the borough has traditionally experienced a good sense of community cohesion with low levels of extremist activity when compared to other areas of the West Midlands, however, Hate Crime, an indicator of community cohesion, is increasing.

 

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Walsall Strategic Needs Assessment May 2014


Produced by Walsall Intelligence Network.

For further information on the WSNA please contact: Business & Partnership Intelligence, Walsall Council, Civic Centre, Darwall Street, Walsall, WS1 1TP

Telephone: 01922 652509 Email: walsallintelligence@walsall.gov.uk

 
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