Blackburn with Darwen

This summary offers a snapshot of some of the most important economic, social and environmental factors in Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority with links through to the source information. The information has been allocated to one of seven themes.

 

  1. Children and Young People
  2. People and Communities
  3. Economic Development
  4. Community Safety
  5. Environment and Transport
  6. Health and Wellbeing
  7. Older People 

Introduction 

Blackburn with Darwen is a unitary authority in East Lancashire that covers 137 square kilometres, has 23 wards, and the number of people per km² is around three times the England and Wales average. From an historic point of view there have been dramatic changes and the pace of future change is liable to increase.    

  1. Children and Young People  

Key stage 4 covers the two years of school education that incorporates GCSEs in maintained schools. When using the former headline measure (percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and Maths), performance in 2015/16 was 59.8% in Blackburn with Darwen. This was above the average for the Lancashire County Council area of 58.4%. However a new secondary school GCSE accountability system was implemented in 2016, in which 'Attainment 8' measures achievement in maths and English plus other subjects with less weighting. In this case the average score in Blackburn with Darwen was 50.3, still ahead of the Lancashire-12 score of 49.7. The Department for Education achievement and attainment tables have information on achievements at various academic levels.    

At first glance, the authority has a surprisingly large number of people employed in the education sector. Blackburn with Darwen does however have the largest population in the 14-authority Lancashire area which naturally impacts on school places and the accompanying workforce. In addition, Blackburn town centre is home to Blackburn College that contains a university centre validated by Lancaster University.  Other sites in the town that have a presence that goes beyond the authority boundary include St. Mary's College, with a sixth form and university centre, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, and the fee-paying Westholme School.  

According to the Department for Education yearly school workforce statistics, Witton Park Academy in Blackburn had the highest workforce figure among the academies, free, special and local authority maintained schools in Lancashire.     

Blackburn with Darwen has more claimants to child benefit than any other Lancashire authority. Also, only a small proportion families in the authority have opted out of receiving child benefit because of the high income benefit charge.  

  1. People and Communities 

The population of the authority has, in general, been on an upward trend over recent years, and the 2016 result of 147,049 represented a small rise over the previous year. The authority has seen large positive results for the natural rate of change that are usually big enough to offset the substantial losses through outward migration. Blackburn with Darwen has a noticeable Asian population (2011 census) as part of its ethnic mix. 

The total fertility rate can be used as an estimate of the fertility growth factor in the population. In Blackburn with Darwen, the rate of 2.25 in 2016 was the highest in the Lancashire-14 area and well above the England average (1.81). 

Local authority live births and deaths graphs are available that track changes in births and deaths since the 1980s for each authority in Lancashire. The graph for Blackburn with Darwen reveals that live births are consistently greater than deaths over the long-term.  

The authority has a bias towards a much younger population than is the norm, and therefore has fewer people of pensionable age is the average for England and Wales. 

It is estimated that between 2014 and 2039 the population in the authority will actually decline by 1.9%, whilst there will be a 4.4% growth rate for the Lancashire 14-authority area (England =16.5%). The number of households in the authority is projected to rise by 5.4% between 2014 and 2039. This compares to increases of 10.4% for the Lancashire-14 area and 23.1% in England.

A mosaic profile of local households classifies Lancashire residents by 15 main groups. Across the authority, seven of the groups are dominant in particular areas. These range from the affluent country living and prestige positions groups, to suburban stability, transient renters and urban cohesion, which covers settled communities with a strong sense of identity. 

Blackburn with Darwen, like other East Lancashire authorities, has a very high proportion of its housing stock in council tax band A, and has a high proportion of its dwelling stock in the registered social landlord sector.  

The median house prices to earnings ratio in the authority is well below England average. The percentage of vacant dwellings is high in the authority. 

In Blackburn with Darwen a substantial 13.96% of households were in fuel poverty in 2015. This was well above the England average of 11.0% and ranks as 31st highest English authority. The main factors that determine this are the energy efficiency status of the property, the cost of energy, and household income. 

The 2015 Indices of Deprivation revealed Blackburn with Darwen was ranked as the 24th most deprived area out of 326 districts and unitary authorities in England, when measured by the rank of average rank. In total, 28 (30.8%) of the lower super output areas in the authority were among the 10% most deprived in the country. 

The national lottery funding results for Blackburn with Darwen are updated on a regular basis. 

  1. Economic Development 

Gross value added is a measure of economic activity and the 2014 results for Blackburn with Darwen reveal a per head figure that was 73.9% of the UK average. 

Employee numbers in Blackburn with Darwen increased in the decade to 2008, albeit at a rate below the national and county averages. Between 2009 and 2014, employment in the authority showed strong growth and increased by 6.2% to 66,200.   

In Blackburn with Darwen as in most places, the manufacturing sector has shed jobs over the years whilst the service sector has grown to become a far greater source of employee jobs. However there still continues to be a bias towards a larger proportion of employees in the manufacturing sector in Lancashire and in Blackburn with Darwen than is the norm. 

Our extensive employment records allow us to monitor the changes to employee numbers from 1929 onwards. We have published separate graphs for each of the 14 Lancashire local authorities that reveal changes in total employee numbers and the shift from manufacturing to service sector employment. Methodological changes, and assumptions for missing years, reduce the accuracy of the graphs, but they do give a useful broad indication of changes over time.  The Blackburn with Darwen graph is reproduced below, and emphasises how the locality had its highest number of jobs in 1929.  

In 2017 there are a substantial 4,655 active enterprises in Blackburn with Darwen.   

The 2011 census results on commuter flows highlight the numbers of people commuting to and from Blackburn with Darwen on census day from neighbouring authorities, and some that are further afield.     

The present rules for the amount of European funding an area is entitled cover the period from 2014 to 2020. Assisted areas are those places where regional aid can be offered to undertakings, typically businesses, under state aid rules. In May 2014, it was confirmed that Blackburn with Darwen has 18 wards with assisted area status. Please see the assisted areas map facility to identify specific wards.    

The authority has a history of low overall employment rates

Gross disposable household income is effectively the amount of money that after taxes, social contributions, pensions and housing interest  payments, households have available for spending or savings. The per-head figure for Blackburn with Darwen was far below the county and UK averages. In general terms the per-head figure for the authority is in long-term decline in comparison to the UK average. 

Average earnings in Blackburn with Darwen are noticeably higher when measured by place of work in comparison to place of residence therefore the authority records a net loss from commuter flows. The figure by place of residence is well below the national average. 

The survey of personal incomes by HM Revenue and customs broadly includes all individuals whose income is higher than the prevailing personal tax allowance and who are therefore liable to tax. The median results are the middle value that best reflects typical income and they show a result for Blackburn with Darwen that is well below the North West average.  

The authority has a large number of employment and support allowance claimantsHousing benefit recipient numbers are high in the authority, and the article also details the effects of the spare room subsidy withdrawal. In comparison to the national average, there is a high percentage of the working age population that is reliant on welfare benefits. 

Universal credit is a benefit for people on low income or who are out of work. Numbers are updated on a monthly basis, and now indicate a sizeable total for Blackburn with Darwen.   

  1. Community Safety 

The recorded crime article reveals that Blackburn with Darwen has a crime rate which is above average for the Lancashire-14 area.  

For details on community safety in your neighbourhood, please enter your postcode into Safer Lancashire.  

Alcohol is known to contribute to offending behaviour, particularly violence, anti-social behaviour and criminal damage. Residents in the authority have an above average number of hospital stays due to alcohol according to the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England)

In 2016, there were 71 people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Blackburn with Darwen.   

  1. Environment and Transport  

The East Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan is the strategic transport document for the wider area and contains references to transport issues in the authority. 

The Department for Transport website has a table with yearly traffic flow results and gives access to an interactive map that lists the traffic flow numbers at sites in Blackburn with Darwen

Using sustainable transport modes can significantly improve employment opportunities and life chances. In urban areas the reliance on the car presents problems of traffic congestion and reduced air quality. Despite this, and the remaining industrial infrastructure within the town, the authority has some quite good air quality results

There are six railway stations in the authority, with the main Blackburn station being, not surprisingly, the busiest. Darwen station on the Clitheroe to Manchester line has shown some very strong passenger growth over recent years. 

Green belts have been an enduring element of national planning policy. They check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another; assist in safeguarding the countryside, preserve the character of historic towns and encourage the recycling of derelict and other urban land. Blackburn with Darwen has a very high proportion of its land designated as green belt at 38.4%, although 290 hectares were taken out of the designation in 2016 to allow for major housing developments.  

The National Biodiversity Network Gateway acts as a “data warehouse” for biodiversity information, which can be quickly and easily accessed to understand the distribution of particular species in the UK. Much of the local data is supplied by the Lancashire Environment Record Network (LERN), which is hosted by Lancashire County Council. An interactive map on this site shows the extent of the Environmental Record Centre coverage, including the LERN area, and when adding a species using the 'Add to Map' control, records of their sightings are displayed.

Maps are available that reveal the various rural-urban definitions across Lancashire down to the very small census output area level.   

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website has the latest air pollution details across the whole of the UK. The interactive monitoring network map reveals a large number of sites across the country that include a station on the outskirts of Darwen. Each monitoring site contains a link to allow users to view the last hour's data.  The current levels web page allows comparisons to be made between the constantly refreshed figures for the three Lancashire sites, and the results for all the other monitoring sites across the country. 

The household waste reuse, recycling and composting rate for Blackburn with Darwen in 2015/16 was 36.4%. The same article also highlights the consistently high number of fly-tipping incidents recorded in the authority.

The legacy of former mine workings in the area was highlighted in 2015, when the  coal authority published development risk plans and specific risk plans that included a set for Blackburn with Darwen

  1. Health and Wellbeing  

Figures for life expectancy at birth reveal that Blackburn with Darwen had male and female averages that are deteriorating rather than improving. This is a trend found in a number of the East Lancashire authorities. The following graphs highlights changes between three-year time periods and compares the Blackburn with Darwen results with the England averages.  

Life expectancy at birth, Blackburn with Darwen graph 

The Blackburn with Darwen Health Profile, published by Public Health England, reveals that the health of people in the area is considerably worse than the England average. 

Hospital services are provided by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. The major local hospital is the Royal Blackburn to the south of the town. Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group took over responsibility for planning and buying health and social care services to meet the needs of local residents in April 2013.  

BMI healthcare provide private sector health services at the Beardwood Hospital.

The Trauma and Injury Intelligence Group (TIIG) was established to develop an injury surveillance system covering the North West. The Lancashire results include reports for Royal Blackburn Hospital.

The Sport England Website contains local sport profiles for each local authority in England.  

The local government association has produced 'housing, health and wellbeing profiles' for each local authority across the country. The figures go down to the ward level, and the Blackburn with Darwen profile has results from the census, the index of multiple deprivation and other data sources. 

Public Health England has produced hypertension (high blood pressure) profiles for each clinical commissioning group and some local authorities in England.  

  1. Older People 

It has been well documented over recent years that people are living longer and that the older age-groups will record some dramatic increases over future years, with associated financial implications and demand for health and social care services. The population aged 65 or over in Blackburn with Darwen is projected to increase to 30,600 by 2039.  

The authority has over 22,000 state pension claimants. For Lancashire as a whole, the highest concentrations are found in selected areas along the coast.  

Attendance allowance provides financial help to people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled. 

Life expectancy as mentioned earlier is increasing but there is no guarantee that the extra years of life will necessarily equate to extra years of healthy life expectancy. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that "extra" years of life expectancy should necessarily lead to additional years with ill health or disability. More suitable community services to enable independent living and more effective practice of preventive lifestyles and medicine has the potential to lengthen disability-free life expectancy, particularly in the case of the prevention and treatment of non-fatal but disabling diseases. 

The Lancashire Care Homes Association is an organisation that represents care providers across the broader Lancashire area. The website lists a large number of care and nursing homes, along with domiciliary care agencies in the area. The details are listed to by major urban localities across the county.  

Page updated 17 November 2017