Littler Britain: the 14 council areas with falling populations

The Office for National Statistics has just published its annual population estimates for mid-2018. I have updated a map I first produced two years ago, showing how each area’s population has changed between 2008 and 2018. As well as the colour-coding, you can see the percentage change by hovering over an area. The data is derived from sheet MYE5 of this spreadsheet.

There are 14 council areas whose populations have fallen over the decade (shown in blue), while the UK’s population as whole grew by 7.5%. Most of them are rural and coastal areas: in England they include Cumbria, the Isles of Scilly and (an exception to the rural bit) Blackpool; in Wales, Ceredigion, Powys and Blaenau Gwent. In Scotland, seven council areas have fallen in population, mostly on the west coast: Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles), Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire.

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Aid organisations dodge cloud for technology that works

There were two reasons I wanted to write about software used by international aid organisations. The first reason was that there were lots of great projects to write about. Where commercial mappers failed, Missing Maps volunteers using OpenStreetMap and aerial images had 23,500 square kilometres of the Democratic Republic of the Congo hit by Ebola mapped in a fortnight, helping Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to tackle the outbreak.

The second reason was that aid organisations need technology that works in all environments. Among other things, this often means avoiding cloud computing. MSF physically flew its new maps to the Congo, first on paper then on a small server, to save bandwidth to its facilities there. Those with staff working mainly in the field, such as Oxfam and World Vision, make sure their software works offline. It demonstrates why cloud is not the answer everywhere, even if mobile coverage in Britain are usually better than in central Africa. Continue reading “Aid organisations dodge cloud for technology that works”

The profit-loss divide on a decade’s house prices

Land accounts for 51% of the UK’s total net worth of £10.2 trillion, far more than in France (42%) or Germany (26%). Most of this, £4.1 trillion, is the value of the land our homes are built on – the buildings are worth a further £1.8 trillion.

From 2009 to 2017, the Office for National Statistics reckons that land held by households has risen by a compound annual growth rate of 5.9%. But that disguises huge local differences. I compared the latest June 2018 data from the Land Registry’s House Price Index to that of a decade earlier, and found that in 42 of the UK’s 217 top-tier local authority areas house prices have actually fallen in cash terms over the decade. They are marked pink and red on this map.

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Why ‘soak the rich’ might not be the way to win Wandsworth

Labour was hoping that yesterday’s local elections would see it unseating the Conservatives in the London borough of Wandsworth, held by the Conservatives since 1978, along with perhaps Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster. But the Conservatives have held all three.

For my data journalism e-book Britdata I worked out that one-tenth of the UK’s total gross value added economic output is generated in the workplaces in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northumberland. The same proportion is generated by the workplaces of just five London council areas: Camden, City of London, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and City of Westminster. Continue reading “Why ‘soak the rich’ might not be the way to win Wandsworth”

Britain’s shrinking councils: Blackpool, Ceredigion… Kensington and Chelsea

According to recently-released data from the ONS, there were 4.82 million more people in the UK on this date in 2016 than on 30 June 2006, an increase of 7.9%. Many cities and big towns are growing much faster, with Manchester, Coventry, Peterborough, Luton, Milton Keynes, Slough and Bournemouth all up by more than 15%.

But 22 top-tier council areas (unitaries or county councils) have actually seen a fall in population over that decade. With one exception, they fall into two groups. Some are badly-off remote rural areas including Cumbria, Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles) and Ceredigion in Wales. Others are badly-off urban and suburban areas in the north of England and Scotland including Blackpool, Knowsley and Sefton on Merseyside and several authorities around Glasgow – although not the City of Glasgow itself, which grew 8.2%.

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