South Ribble district

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


South Ribble is an authority in Central Lancashire that covers 113 square kilometres, has 23 wards for which Census 2021 profiles are available. These appear as starter pages showing just the population, but around 30 Census topics can be added. The number of people per km² is more than twice 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

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 Bamber Bridge, Kingsfold and Wade Hall Children and Family Wellbeing Services and the West Paddock Neighbourhood Centre.

Health outcomes for children and young people in South Ribble are generally good. Although subject to variation infant mortality rates and low birthweights are generally near to or better than the national average.

There are 53 schools in South Ribble. Of these 39 are primary and 11 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 South Ribble parliamentary constituency.

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 50.1 in South Ribble district for 2021/22. This was ahead of the average for the Lancashire County Council area of 47.6. 

The Department for Education achievement and attainment tables have more information on achievement at other levels. 

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 South Ribble, 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 grew steadily in the early years of the millennium, but less so since 2011. The mid 2022 population estimate for the authority was 112,166. There is a  Census 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 South Ribble of 1.49 in 2022 was noticeably lower than the rate in 2016 (1.95).  

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 South Ribble shows that the number of live-births consistently exceeded deaths over the long-term, although only by 13 in the year 2000. In 2018 the difference was zero, in 2019 deaths were more by just nine but in 2020 deaths were more by 186. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic most districts 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.

Graph of live births, deaths and difference between the two in South Ribble from 1981 onwards. In 2022 there were 979 live births and 1,158 deaths

It is estimated that between 2018 and 2043 the population of South Ribble will increase by a modest 4.5%. This is a little below the expected figure for the Lancashire-14 area (7.2%) and well below England (10.3%). The projected growth of households in the authority is 9.3% between 2018 and 2043 (England = 16.2%).  

There are 51,000 dwellings, 90% of which are owner occupied or private rented in South Ribble. South Ribble has relatively high proportions of its housing stock in council tax bands B and C in comparison to the national averages.  The authority recorded over 400 net additional dwellings during the 2020/11 financial year for the fifth time in seven years.

The median house prices to earnings ratio in the authority is above the averages for Lancashire-12 and the North West region. 

A total of 10.5% of South Ribble households were in fuel poverty in 2020, which was the lowest rate in Lancashire and below 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 South Ribble was the 210th most deprived area out of 317 districts and unitary authorities in England, when measured by the rank of average 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 ten of South Ribble's wards mostly fit into the 'Semi-Detached Suburbia' group. Four wards are largely represented by the 'Suburban Achievers' Group and another four by the 'Urban Professionals' group.

  1. Economic Development

In line with the national and county trends, employee numbers in South Ribble increased in the decade to 2008, and between 2009 and 2016 the district recorded a substantial 13.7% increase in its employment number

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 graph for South Ribble is displayed below and tracks the long-term employment growth in the authority.

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

Companies that underpin the high employment in the construction sector in South Ribble are Eric Wright ConstructionRowland Homes and Conlon Construction. Within manufacturing, the beverage and food products sector has an importance presence. Local employers are AB InBev who now operate the former Whitbread brewery at Samlesbury, Dr Oetker, a pizza production facility in Leyland & Shazans Foods on the Walton Summit which specialises in Halal frozen foods.

The authority has a history of high overall employment rate.

In 2023 there were 3,950 active enterprises in South Ribble of which 86.3% employed fewer than ten workers. 435 employed between 10 and 49 workers and around twenty employed over 250. The authority is in an excellent business location being at the heart of the intersection of three motorways.

The most recent companies in South Ribble to win Queen's Awards for Enterprise were Evans Vanodine International in 2020 and 2015. and Leyland Trucks (2020). 

The establishment of the former Central Lancashire New Town Development Corporation, and its development of areas such as the extensive Walton Summit Industrial Estate, was a major impetus to the local economy. The development corporation was very active during the 1970s and 1980s in the Preston, Chorley and South Ribble area. After its demise, the remaining parcels of un-developed land that were bought by the corporation eventually became the responsibility of the Homes and Communities Agency. These land assets have now been used to underpin the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, that looks to generate thousands of new jobs and lead to the construction of a very substantial number of new homes. 

In October 2011, the government announced the creation of a single Lancashire enterprise zone that covers the two BAe sites in Lancashire at Samlesbury and Warton. The Samlesbury site bisects the boundary between Ribble Valley and South Ribble. Enterprise zones are areas where financial incentives and a simplified planning structure are designed to encourage businesses and create employment. 

The district is home to the highly regarded business support agency the North West Aerospace Alliance. Public sector employment in the area is supplement by the Lancashire Police HQ which is situated in the authority.

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 South Ribble district.  

Average house prices are above average for Lancashire. The yearly ratio of median house price to median earnings reveals a rate for the authority that is a little under the England average. House prices at the small area level highlight lower average prices in the central part of the authority and higher ones in the west. The rate of mortgage possession orders (see the residential property article) per 1,000 households is relatively low and changed very little in the last year.  

The area benefits from net commuter flows, with average earnings in South Ribble being noticeably higher when measured by place of residence in comparison to place of work.

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 South Ribble that is well above the Lancashire-12 and North West averages. 

The 2011 census figures  (table WU03EW) reveal the commuter flows between local authorities. The largest flow between a Lancashire authority and a neighbouring authority occurred between South Ribble and Preston. A substantial 13,492 South Ribble residents commuted to work in Preston district. The authority had a low percentage of people aged 16+ (39.1%) who lived and worked in the authority.   

The number of employment and support allowance claimants appears to be relatively low. The housing benefit article reveals the number of recipients and the effects of the spare room subsidy withdrawal. Council tax benefit numbers have not risen. In comparison to the national average, there is a low percentage of the working age population that is reliant on welfare benefits.

  1. Community Safety

The recorded crime article reveals that South Ribble has a crime rate well below 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 alcohol-specific mortality in the three year period 2014-16 than the national average, according to the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England).

There were 68 people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in South Ribble during 2021, a huge rise from the 2020 figure of 42. 

  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. Parts of Leyland have the worst air quality in the county.

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

South Ribble has good motorway links, with the M6, M65 and M61. 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.

The 2011 census indicated that 12,859 or almost 23% of South Ribble working residents commuted between 5 and 10 km which coincided with the commute to the neighbouring authority of Preston which has a high jobs-density figure. In addition, the 2011 census results by industry sector revealed that many public-sector workers live in South Ribble, but the figures by workplace show the jobs concentrated in Preston.  These are perhaps better indicators of normal commuting patterns than those shown in Census 2021 which was still affected by Covid-19 restrictions. Few but key workers were supposed to be going into their place of work. As a consequence 15,731 (28.8% of the total) workers had marked that they mostly worked from home, but 8,779 (16%) still commuted the 5-10 km distance.

South Ribble has three railway stations with Leyland being by far the busiest. 

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. South Ribble has a very high proportion of land designated as green belt, although this was reduced by 40 hectares in 2016.

Total carbon dioxide emissions in South Ribble when measured by tonnes per resident reveal a rate that is above the national average. Emissions of nitrogen oxides are the second greatest by weight in the county, while average particulate emissions by area are also second highest.

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 South Ribble was a healthy 46.2% in 2019/20.

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

The legacy of former mine workings across parts of the country was highlighted in 2015, when the coal authority published development risk plans and specific risk plans for a selection of authorities. These included a set for South Ribble district, but the maps reveal little historical activity in the district.

  1. Health and Wellbeing

Figures for life expectancy at birth reveal that South Ribble had a male average that was above the national figure and a female average just above the England and Wales figure. The following graph reveals life expectancy changes in the authority, and for England and Wales, by three-year time periods from 1991-93 onwards.

Life expectancy at birth, South Ribble graph

The South Ribble Health Profile, published by Public Health England, reveals that the health of people is mostly similar to the England average and often better, but rarely worse.

The 2015 health behaviours summary report (PDF 448 KB) and lifestyle survey findings (PDF 824 KB) for South Ribble 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

The Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust website lists a few other locations in the authority.

The Trauma and Injury Intelligence Group (TIIG) was established to develop an injury surveillance system covering the North West. The Lancashire section includes details for Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.

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 South Ribble 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 Chorley and South Ribble CCG and NHS Greater Preston CCG. There are separate reports for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

  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. By 2043, the population aged 65 or over in South Ribble is projected to increase to 31,625. 

The State Pension caseload in the district is around 23,450. In comparison with a number of coastal areas in the county, there are few parts of the authority that are particularly popular with people of retirement age. Pension Credit is for pensioners at the lower end of the income scale and the caseload in the authority was around 1,800 in August 2023. 

Attendance Allowance provides financial help to people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled. The caseload was around 2,950 in August 2023.

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