Rossendale district

This summary offers a snapshot of some of the most important economic, social and environmental factors in Rossendale district with links through to the source information. The information has been allocated to one of the following seven themes: Map of Rossendale borough

  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


Rossendale is an authority in East Lancashire that covers 138 square kilometres and has 10 wards. Census 2021 profiles are available for the 14 wards which were in effect prior to 2024. These appear as starter pages showing just the population, but around 30 Census topics can be added. 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. 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. The average score was 46.3 in Rossendale district in 2021/22. This was below the average for the Lancashire County Council area of 47.6. 

For young children and parents the county council's Children and Family Wellbeing Service has a search facility for local centres. The four in the district are the Bacup and Rawtenstall Children and Family Wellbeing Services, the Haslingden Link and Whitworth Library.

There are 43 schools in Rossendale. Of these 32 are primary and six secondary. A full list of schools in Lancashire is available. Ofsted inspection reports and the GOV.UK web page on schools performance are useful sources of local information, although the latter is defined for Rossendale and Darwen parliamentary constituency.

The county council's Young People's Service website has an activity and organisations search facility that lists a wide range of options for young people in each of the 12 districts within the county council area.

Business Intelligence and Public Health analysts at Lancashire County Council have produced Child health profiles for districts in Lancashire, including both district and ward elements for Rossendale, and bringing together key indicators from Fingertips, the public health data collection from the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID).

  1. People and Communities

The overall population in the authority has seen some growth since 2001, but has not kept pace with increases at the national level. The ethnic mix (2021 census) is less diverse than other authorities in East Lancashire. It is predominantly white. The largest minority ethnic group is Pakistani. The mid 2022 population estimate for the authority was 71,169. One of the first Census outputs made available is an interactive tool that compares the 2021 results with 2011 for local authorities.

The total fertility rate can be used as an estimate of the fertility growth factor in the population. The rate in Rossendale of 1.68 in 2022 was noticeably lower than the rate in 2016 (1.97).  

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 Rossendale shows that over the long-term, live births have exceeded deaths in almost every year until 2020. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic most districts, including Rossendale, had more deaths than births in 2020. The number of deaths in each month of 2021, 2022 and 2023 can be seen in the monthly mortality graph slide on the Lancashire Insight Covid-19 intelligence web page. The number of females in Rossendale fell between 2021 and 2022 according to the ONS mid-year population estimates. This was the only such fall in any Lancashire authority.

Graph of live births, deaths and difference between the two in Rossendale from 1981 onwards. In 2022 there were 715 live births and 801 deaths

It is estimated that between 2018 and 2043 the population of Rossendale will increase by 12.6%, being the fourth highest increase in the Lancashire-14 area, which itself has an outturn of 7.2%, and slightly above the predicted growth of 10.3% for England. The number of households in the authority is projected to grow by 18.2% between 2018 and 2043, again the fourth highest (England = 16.2%).

The median house prices to earnings ratio in the authority is higher than other authorities in East Lancashire.  

There are around 32,300 dwellings, 85% of which are owner occupied or private rented in Rossendale. As in other East Lancashire authorities, Rossendale has a high proportion of its housing stock in the lowest category 'A' council tax band. 3.3% of dwellings were vacant in 2021.

A total of 14.6% of Rossendale households were in fuel poverty in 2020. This was above the England average of 13.2%. The main factors that determine this are the energy efficiency status of the property, the cost of energy, and household income.

The 2019 Indices of Deprivation revealed that Rossendale was the 91st most deprived area out of 317 districts and unitary authorities in England, when measured by the rank of average LSOA rank.

ONS has produced a set of residential-based area classifications using analysis of the 2011 Census. These are for very small statistical areas, but we have identified the most common groups for the electoral wards. Residents in three of Rossendale's wards mostly fit into the 'Semi-Detached Suburbia' group and those in another three wards the 'Urban Professionals and Families' group. Two belong to the 'Hard-Pressed Ageing Workers' group while the other six wards are mostly associated with six different groups.

  1. Economic Development

The district has the smallest number of employee jobs out of the 14 Lancashire local authorities (22,000 in 2018 (provisional)). The numbers have generally fluctuated between 20,000 and 23,000 employee jobs since 2001, but were estimated to have reached 24,000 in 2015. Numbers fell to around 20,000 employee jobs in 2003, 2012 and 2017. It does however maintain a high percentage of private-sector jobs. 

In Rossendale, 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 Rossendale (18.2% v 8.1% in GB in 2018 (provisional)) than is the national norm and a lower proportion of jobs in the service sector. 

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 totals displayed may differ to actual district totals owing to rounding. The graph for Rossendale is displayed below indicates that the authority had the highest number of jobs in 1929.

Graph of employee jobs in Rossendale from 1929 onwards showing relative share between manufacturing, services and other industries

The percentage of workless households is high in the authority.

In 2023 there were 2,540 active enterprises in Rossendale, 4.2% fewer than in 2022. 88.2% of these had fewer than ten employees. There were about 290 small and medium enterprises with up to 250 employees and only around ten with more than that. 

The most recent companies in Rossendale to win a Queen's Award for Enterprise are Slingco Ltd in Whitworth (2020 and 2016), Orthoplastics Ltd. in Bacup (2020), Firesafe Fire Rated Ductwork Limited in Haslingden (2019) and Linemark UK Limited in Rawtenstall (2016).

Assisted areas are those places where regional aid can be offered to undertakings, typically businesses, under European Union state aid rules. From 2014 to 2020 Rossendale had two wards with assisted area status. Following the departure of the UK from the European Union, these rules no longer apply, but a Subsidy control bill is currently going through Parliament.

The UK government properties database is a searchable list of all UK government property holdings and land assets. The web page for the North West region lists land and properties by towns including those in Rossendale district.   

Crystal Hurstwood is a private sector developer with interests in the authority, and the website highlights a number of business sites in Rossendale district and the rest of Lancashire. These include the Hardmans Business Centre which is an iconic four storey mill in Rawtenstall that has been transformed into modern business premises.

Average earnings in Rossendale were the fifth lowest in Lancashire when measured by place of residence, £14.70 per week better than by place of work, where they were sixth lowest.

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 Rossendale that is similar to the Lancashire-12 average.  

The authority has a positive net benefit from commuter flows, and the 2011 census results reveal how employment patterns results in a much lower workday population figure for Rossendale in comparison to the usual resident population. The low job density rate for the authority also confirms that many local residents seek employment outside the district.

The 2011 census figures on commuter flows revealed that 2,578 residents commuted to Rochdale. 2,176 to Bury and 1,511 to Manchester. Within Lancashire, the highest figure was 1.588 who commuted to Burnley.  Hyndburn (1,337) and Bury (1,281) had the highest figures for inward commuting to Rossendale. The commuter flows article confirms that Rossendale had a low percentage of people (40.3%) who live and work within the authority.

The number of employment and support allowance claimants appears not to be excessive. The housing benefit article reveals the number of recipients and the local effects of the spare room subsidy withdrawal. In comparison to the national average, there is a slightly high percentage of the working age population that is reliant on welfare benefits.

The town centre of Bacup is destined to benefit from the Future High Streets Fund, launched in 2018, and indirectly from a mix of funding sources which also includes the Future High Streets Fund, but channelled through the High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme.

  1. Community Safety

The recorded crime article highlights the fact that Rossendale has a crime rate noticeably below the average for the Lancashire-14 area. See the LG Inform Quarterly Report on Crime and Disorder by Local Authority.

For more details on community safety in your neighbourhood, please enter your postcode or ward into the window in the Local area community safety statistics web page.

Alcohol is known to contribute to offending behaviour, particularly violence, anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.  Residents in the authority are significantly worse for number of hospital stays due to alcohol and for binge drinking, than the national average, according to the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England).

In 2021, there were 40 people killed or seriously injured in road collisions in the authority.   

  1. Environment and Transport

Transport has a key role to play in realising the economic potential of an area by unlocking key locations, such as the existing and new locations referred to in the economy section.  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, and this has recently been shown in Haslingden where particulate emissions spoil the relatively good air quality enjoyed by the rest of the district.

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 2011 census indicated that a substantial 3,472 (10.5%) of Rossendale's working residents aged 16+ commuted between 20 and 30 kilometres. This is easily the highest percentage in Lancashire and is well excess of the regional and national averages. The journey length coincides with a commute to central Manchester from most parts of the authority. Bury and Rochdale are even more important locations in terms of the number of commuters from Rossendale district.

The Department for Transport website has an interactive map that lists the traffic flows at hundreds of sites across all of the Lancashire County Council area.  

Rossendale is the only district in Lancashire with no railway station on the national network, however the northern end of the East Lancashire heritage railway terminates at Rawtenstall.    

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

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.

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. Rossendale has 22.6% of its land designated as green belt. In 2021 Rossendale's local plan gave details of a reduction in the total extent of 50 hectares, mainly around Edenfield and Whitworth.

Total carbon dioxide emissions in Rossendale, as measured by tonnes per resident, are lower than the county and national averages. There are also very low levels of the major air pollutants.

The rates of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting have in general been improving over the years as sharp increases in Landfill Tax have made the traditional form of Landfill disposal much more expensive. The household waste reuse, recycling and composting rate in Rossendale was just 32.9% in 2021/22, the fourth lowest in the Lancashire-12 area.

Lancashire County Council supports a various projects in district authorities via a range of grants and funding options.

Common land may owned by one or more people, but it is land over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to graze livestock, collect firewood, or cut turf for fuel.  There are 550,000 hectares of registered common land in England and Wales and the 14 Lancashire local authorities account for 8,427 hectares, or 1.5% of the national total. The database of registered common land in England lists all sites by local authority boundary. Rossendale is one of three Lancashire authorities that account for a significant proportion of the county's common land.  

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 Rossendale district.

  1. Health and Wellbeing

Figures for life expectancy at birth by local authority reveal that Rossendale district had male and female averages that were below the national figures. The following graph reveals life expectancy changes in the authority, and for England, by three-year time periods from 1991-93 onwards. 

Life expectancy at birth, Rossendale graph

In the Rossendale Health Profile, published by Public Health England, more indicators are similar to the England average than are worse, but very few are better.

The 2015 health behaviours summary report (PDF 450 KB) and lifestyle survey findings (PDF 845 KB) for Rossendale provide further details on lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, drinking, substance use, physical activity, nutrition, excess weight and wellbeing.

In July 2022 Integrated Care Boards replaced the much smaller Clinical Commissioning Groups as clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area, including the majority of the hospital and community NHS services. Together with their associated Integrated Care Partnerships, which includes representatives from the upper tier local authorities responsible for social care and public health, they form Integrated Care Systems (ICS). The single ICS covering the whole of the Lancashire-14 area is the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS. That web page has a link to a glossary of the terms used and there is a further explanation on a Kings Fund web page

There are numerous health centres and clinics, including Rossendale Primary Health Care Centre. This is a large modern facility that provides services previously provided at the community hospital. Main hospital services are provided by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. Some other facilities are run by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.

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 Rossendale profile has results from the census, the index of multiple deprivation and other data sources.

Public Health England has produced Cardiovascular disease profiles for each of the former clinical commissioning groups in England, in this case NHS East Lancashire CCG. There are separate reports for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

  1. Older People

The authority has the smallest number of State Pension claimants in Lancashire. Pension Credit is for pensioners at the lower end of the income scale and the caseload in the authority is around 1,650.

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. By 2043, the population aged 65 or over in Rossendale is projected to increase to 18,526. 

Attendance Allowance provides financial help to people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled. The caseload in August 2023 was 1,640.

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 by major urban localities across the county.  

Page updated 9 May 2024