An Ipsos Mori survey published in February 2013 on behalf of West Cumbria MRWS (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) reveals strengths in the brand “the Lake District” but a mixed picture regarding the overall uniqueness of the Cumbrian brand.
Ipsos Mori delivered a mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative surveys examining baseline perceptions of Cumbria, the Lake District and its branded products from a sample of consumers and businesses across the UK. These surveys were completed in light of a search of a GDF (Geological Disposal Facility) for the county. A search, as is well publicised, that has now ceased to continue (January 2013).
The report mixes qualitative observations from x6 Focus Groups and various In Depth Interviews integrated with quantitative outputs from surveys with x200 UK businesses and x2000 face to face interviews with consumers across the UK. And whilst this approach makes for a highly readable report, it is this merging of the two methodologies that renders the conclusions difficult to verify statistically.
We see x6 un-named Cumbrian brands market-tested in the face-to-face interviews using show-cards and revealing some surprising results. 48% of respondents said that they had never purchased these products whilst 50% showed no propensity to purchase them in the future. However, 18% stated that they would buy at least one of the x6 samples shown. But the question as regarding what these products actually were figures highly and without this knowledge our full understanding of the limitations of brand strength, packaging, product aspiration and the degree to which the Cumbrian brand can “stretch” to exported products remains unknown.
Interestingly, the survey reveals little differentiation for products manufactured in the Lake District as compared with other rural areas in the UK and that the larger supermarket buyers were less interested in provenance and more interested in taste, quality and packaging. Consumers were also seen to value the proximity factor of their goods and the issue of food-miles figured highly in their purchase decisions.
However, the business survey results seem to reveal deficiencies in Cumbria’s investment- appeal.
Cumbria scores low on the attractiveness of its transport links, a skilled workforce and a strong local economy but high on a good working environment and available office space.
The focus groups were also asked to visualise Cumbria. The resulting description could be seen as either complimentary or regressive depending on your own demographic and points of view. Cumbria is described as an older man, physically fit, weatherworn and full of character. “He owns 2 springer spaniels; he’s got an old Nokia 3310 and a battered Range Rover”
The Lake District as a distinct and strong brand fares very well with both frequent visitors and with UK businesses. High scores are seen for aspects such as “rustic”, “green”, “safe” and “special”. And crucially, the brand is shown to retain high degrees of resilience to any future catastrophic events with a perception that the region would quickly recover its brand status even in the short term.
To read the full report please see: http://www.westcumbriamrws.org.uk/documents.asp
Michael Heseltine’s recently launched economic plan for renewed UK growth weighs in at a hefty 220 pages long with a 40 page list of annexes and no less than 89 recommendations outlining his vision for the future economic growth for the English counties.
Many political commentators have already been keen to emphasise the apparent drift from the market-led approach of the Chancellor towards a much more interventionist approach favoured by Michael Heseltine when he was last in government office. Others have merely concentrated on the current spat over aviation policy in the South East of England. What can be said is that the report is unashamedly in favour of local devolution and the need to shift power back to local business groups in order to unlock the “dynamism” of provincial English cities and towns.
It is interesting to note that the Labour Party has already endorsed the new local support structures outlined within the report and have stated that even if the Chancellor eschews the findings they would be keen to implement them if they regained government office.
There are several key themes running through the report, along with some stand out recommendations:
• PM-led National Growth Council – An overarching long term strategy should be underpinned by a strong governance structure. The Growth Council should drive the implementation of the Growth Strategy across all departments.
• A Single Funding Pot – A single funding pot for local areas to include significant parts of budgets held by central government that would be ‘more effectively managed by local leaders’ (including skills, housing, infrastructure and employment support). This goes with the grain of developments around City Deals and Community Budgets but would give city leaders much more discretion over how funds are spent locally.
• Putting local partners at the heart of economic policy – Local Enterprise Partnerships should be given resources (with the allocation of £250,000 new public funding) to develop local economic plans. LEPs should then bid for funding from the single pot. Where LEPs lack capacity they should be given support.
• Functional economic areas – Emphasis is also placed on LEPs ensuring their boundaries match functional economic areas – the most effective level for urban economic decision making and implementation. Heseltine also believes a more simple structure for local government should be created: all two-tier authorities outside London are encouraged to move towards unitary status.
• Public-private partnerships – Central to the Review is partnership between the public and private sectors. Recommendations around broadening the role of the private sector include the Chambers of Commerce receiving enhanced legal status to provide access to business support and local authorities building stronger relationships with private sector partners
The implementation of a unitary local government is almost certain to encounter some age-old resistance within Cumbria as may be the recommendations for compulsory membership of the Chambers of Commerce in order to help fund future financial shortfalls.
And whether Whitehall will resist the urge to develop any new Westminster quangos in order to manage the machinery of this report but instead to reverse the policies of the last 100 years and hand the systems of growth back to England’s towns and cities remains difficult to envisage.
To see the full report go to:
The Centre for Cities, an independent, non-partisan research and policy institute, has released figures in September 2012 relating to total employment for 2011 taken from the Business Register and Employment Survey.
The results shed light on the share of employment on different sectors of the economy but also crucially provide a reminder of the influence London and the South East maintains in these regions’ dominance of the jobs market. The survey shows on a city-by-city* basis, an increasing trend in total employment towards the metropolitan boroughs of London and the surrounding cities of the South east.
In 2011, 58 percent of employment in Great Britain could be found in cities*. However, London was the city with the most employment, which was five times the size of the next largest city, Birmingham.
It shows that, if you draw a line horizontally across the country from London to Bristol, these cities and those to the south accounted for a staggering 42 percent of total city employment in 2011. London was the main contributor providing almost three quarters (or 5.0 million) of the 6.8 million employment positions housed in these 13 cities
Hastings was Great Britain’s smallest city with 31,400 people in employment and was almost one third smaller than the next smallest city, Worthing.
The data shows that Swindon and Crawley had the highest share of employment in the private sector of all Great Britain’s cities – ten percentage points higher than the city average. It was the wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles sector that contained the highest share of private sector employment in both cities.
Oxford, Dundee and Cambridge however had relatively low shares of jobs in the private sector. In Oxford the share of employment in the public sector was almost 20pp above the city average. Large educational sectors explain in part the predominance of the public sectors in Oxford and Cambridge. In Dundee on the other hand there was significant employment in human health and social work activities.
* It is worth noting that the Centre for Cities parameter for a city is based upon a base line measure of 125K residents. All data is presented at the Primary Urban Area (PUA) level. This is a city level definition used by the Department for Communities and Local Government in The State of the English Cities report. PUAs are an aggregate of local authorities that make up the ‘built-up’ area of a city, defined as having a population of 125,000 or more
For more information see:
Two surveys regarding mental health announced recently, have revealed both positive behaviour changes in regards to mental health discrimination nationally and significant concerns in respect of accessing mental health support in Scotland.
A YouGov survey in conjunction with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) reveals that one in five adults in Scotland do not know where to go for help if they had concerns about their mental health.
For further details please see:
In contrast, findings for a new study published 1/5/12 in the journal Psychiatric Services, show improvements in behaviour towards people with mental health problems in England, thanks in part to the national ant-stigma programme, Time to Change.
For further details please see:
A recent survey revealed in May 2012 by YouGov and the walking charity Ramblers has shown a high level of support by the British public for continuous and legal access to a coastal walking trail around England’s coastline.
The survey sampled over 2000 British adults in March 2012 in representative stratified random samples for all the British regions. Proportional age, gender and socio-economic profile splits were also integrated into the sampled ranges.
Unsurprisingly for a Region invested in the spirit and history of the outdoors, residents in the North of England revealed the greatest support for a continual walking trail.
- 75% of Residents in the North agreed that the public should have access to walk along beaches of the entire coast of England.
- 9% disagreed with this opinion
This survey has further encouraged the Ramblers in their campaign to deliver a continual coastal trail open to all brought about initially by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
Further signs of progress in this light are to be seen in the announcement of a public consultation opened by the government advisory group Natural England. Here they have announced the next five stretches of coastline which will become part of this new “National Trail”. The goal is that by 2017 walkers will be able to go all the way from Hull to Dorset – via Hadrian’s Wall and the Wales Coastal Path.
Natural England has set out proposals for an enhanced walking route from Whitehaven to Allonby to be created along the 36km of coast to provide greater access for local residents and visitors where they can walk, rest and admire the view. The route will run close to some of Cumbria’s most populated areas and pass through a variety of coastal habitats and cliff scenery.
Further details of the public consultation for the Allonby to Whitehaven trail can be found at:
The results of the YouGov survey can found at:
How Old Are You? New research on consumers’ “Perceived Age” may change the way that Cumbrian companies market their products and services to all their customers.
Research recently published by market research company The Big Window in partnership with BBC Audiences has revealed some interesting differences between peoples’ Perceived Age and their Actual Age.
The research was the result of a study by the BBC on the topic of age and how young and old people are portrayed in the media. Using a series of questions examining peoples’ looks, behaviours, feelings, physical energy and mental energy, a model was finally developed that predicted a person’s “Perceived Age” rather than their actual true age.
Over 3,000 respondents in two waves of research finally revealed that in general people feel younger than they actually are. This was to be expected, but what surprised the research teams was the extent of the gap between actual age and perceived age.
The chart shows that people typically feel slightly older than they are until they hit 30. After that they start to feel younger – and then increasingly so. By the time they reach their early 70s, consumers actually feel in their mid-to-late 50s. Subsequent analysis of both waves of the study suggests that as people approach their mid-70s the gap between perceived age and actual age starts to lessen – possibly as physical and mental health-related problems emerge.
Using this data the client, in this instance the BBC, were able to work out which programmes appealed to which age groups, and whether their audiences could be described as young or old at heart, according to their perceived age profile. The research pointed to big programmes on the mainstream channels – programmes such as EastEnders, I’m a Celebrity, Doctor Who, The X Factor and Harry Hill- all tended to appeal to people who, on balance, feel younger at heart – perhaps reflecting the fact that TV in general has a “younger” appeal whatever the actual ages of the audience.
Certainly from a Business to Consumer marketing perspective we have lots to learn as “perceived age” will almost certainly apply across the regions including of course Cumbria. It’s a consumer mindset already apparent in local products such as Carlisle Living magazine whose primary target audience is predominantly female, 18-25 years of age whilst the actual “consumers” of the magazine are to be found in the 25-40 age groups – although still largely female. Similar examples can also be witnessed with the demand for tickets across a wide demographic in Carlisle for Radio 1’s Big Weekend, the increase in the popularity of Zumba classes for the 25 -40 age groups , video-gaming and the rise of technologies originally targeting a younger consumer for instance Wii; and of course certain social networking sites such Facebook, Twitter etc. originally designed for the teens and now adopted across a much older age profile.
Cumbria LEP Business Survey Results 2011 – Cumbria’s Many Small to Medium Sized Businesses Continue to Suffer with the Double-Dip Recession
The recently published results of the Cumbria LEP Business Survey for 2011 reveal a region struggling to come to terms with the mounting pressures of costs inflation shock, reduced consumer demand especially in the local marketplace and increases in unemployment.
The results from the latest longitudinal survey delivered by the Birmingham-based research company BMG mirror the downward trends of the 2010 Cumbria Business Survey especially amongst the majority of Small to Medium sized businesses which dominate the region’s economy.
The survey was commissioned by a consortium led and managed by the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership as part of a LEP Capacity Fund project and is the latest study from 8 surveys initiated back in 1998.
A major outcome reveals a reduction in the overall numbers of people employed by private sector companies compared to the same period 12 months ago. The authors estimate around 8,000 fewer people are now employed by the private sector compared to 1 year ago (2010).
Whilst the report re-iterates that the survey methodology has had to rely upon stratified random sampling and hence must be considered estimated numbers, these employment figures appear to correlate with the rising unemployment statistics as reported by Job Centre Plus Nomisweb (1 in 10 claimants claiming unemployment benefit – now far larger than 12 months ago).
The overall view is of a Cumbrian market continuing to shrink with increasing staff costs, a reduced workforce and a tighter more restrictive financial environment.
Upward costs pressure are also anticipated by most Cumbrian businesses surveyed for the next 12 months which, combined with the gloomy outlook predicted by many of the economic experts (OECD, Markit, OBR), austerity measures and potential stagflation (growth stalls and inflation remains dangerously high) the next 12 months look especially difficult for the majority of Cumbria’s SMEs.
This, of course, is not an isolated report with many LEPs around the country conducting similar surveys amongst their business communities including the English Business Survey managed by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. In many instances these reports have been followed up by further more in depth analysis of the particular problems faced by that region in order that the particular LEPs can improve engagement between the regulators and their businesses or are able to advocate changes to regulations and their applications.
However, small glimmers of hope can be found within the Cumbria report. For instance a small proportion of businesses managed to report “higher” trends over the last 12 months. The principal example regards increases in turnover and profit margins for those companies trading in the greater North West region and with the Rest of the UK rather than reliance upon the local shrinking market. Any opportunity observed by the LEP through this survey, however small, has to be worth the effort of communication to help inform future business planning for 2012/13.
For more details see:
The Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey 2012 – Cumbria’s Economic Viability and its Failings Highlighted
The Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey tracks where living standards are highest in Great Britain by ranking local performance across key indicators covering the labour market, the housing market, the environment, education and health.
The survey examines all 119 rural local authority districts and is based on data at local authority district (LAD) level. Data has been gathered from a number of sources, including Halifax, Point Topic (Broadband data), ONS, DEFRA, the Met Office, the Department for Transport, Department of Children, Schools and Families, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Government and the Scottish Executive.
The definition of rural for the purposes of this survey was to use the ONS definition of communities i.e. those of less than 10K residents were to be classified as “rural”. A rural local authority district is one where the majority of these residents live in rural areas.
We have to assume therefore that the survey related to a majority of Cumbrian communities. Cumbria is England’s second largest county with 51% of the total population living in rural communities, compared with 19% in England.
The results of the Survey make depressing reading with all of the Cumbrian Local Authorities featuring in the depths of the league table: Allerdale 96th, Eden 98th, South Lakeland 106th and Copeland 113th. So why is this the case?
The Cumberland News quite rightly highlights the major factors of low wages, and relatively high house prices throughout rural Cumbria in addition to a third criteria, the ratio of house prices to incomes being also a factor. It is this ratio that Cumbria fails to compete with other rural counties. East Cambridgeshire reveals average house prices relative to local earnings to be below the average for rural areas, highlighting that a high standard of living doesn’t have to come at a high price.
It is perhaps also clear that the highest ranking rural counties all benefit from excellent infrastructure with access to a wide range of employment opportunities from neighbouring conurbations. It could also be argued that a 90 minute commute to London from Ely in Cambridgeshire should compare with the average commute to the North East, Lancashire and perhaps Glasgow and Edinburgh for Cumbrian residents. It is probably more the greater availability of high net worth employment opportunities for the residents of Ely in Cambridgeshire both near and afar which has benefited this highly rural area. We can only hope that the Cumbria LEP Rural Growth Networks pilot bid and infrastructure funding from the Cumbria Infrastructure Fund go some way to improving Cumbria’s movement issues, although £4.5 million appears a drop in the ocean at present.
Other issues must also count against Cumbria in addition to earnings, transport and affordable house prices. Life expectancy and the proportion of people in good health are further criteria used and again Cumbria will have scored low in relation to the Eastern and Southern rural counties. Cumbria has fewer young people and more people aged 65 and over than the average for England. A trend projected to continue for the foreseeable future. A much larger and older population creates greater demands for personal health and social care.
It is at least heartening to see in the Cumberland News article that the issue of Superfast Broadband provision and roll out is recognised as an important step towards economic development for the county. The issue of selling more sheep to the Middle East may have been an anecdotal inclusion but surely cannot be classed as a means to improving the counties’ overall economic fortunes!
Quality of Life Rankings – Top 50 Rural Areas
1. East Cambridgeshire
2. Wychavon, West Midlands
3. South Cambridgeshire
4. East Hertfordshire
5. Waverley, South East
6. Aylesbury Vale, South East
7. Rushcliffe, East Midlands
8. Uttlesford, East of England
9. Rutland, East Midlands
10. Chiltern, South East
11. Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire
12. South Oxfordshire, South East
13. North Kesteven, East Midlands
14. Test Valley, South East
15. Mid Sussex, South East
16. Vale of White Horse, South East
17. Maldon, East of England
18. Tonbridge and Malling, South East
19. East Northamptonshire, Midlands
20. South Kesteven, East Midlands
21. Tandridge, South East
22. South Northamptonshire, Midlands
23. West Berkshire, South East
24. West Oxfordshire, South East
25. Harborough, East Midlands
26. St Edmundsbury, East of England
27. Selby, Yorkshire and the Humber
28. Forest Heath, East of England
29. Tewkesbury, South West
30. Suffolk Coastal, East of England
31. Wealden, South East
32. East Hampshire, South East
33. Melton, East Midlands
34. Forest of Dean, South West
35. South Holland, East Midlands
36. Mid Suffolk, East of England
37. East Riding of Yorkshire
38. Shepway, South East
39. Wiltshire, South West
40. Broadland, East of England
41. Shetland Islands, Scotland
42. South Derbyshire, East Midlands
43. East Dorset, South West
44. New Forest, South East
45. Babergh, East of England
46. Aberdeenshire, Scotland
47. North West Leicestershire
48. Hambleton, Yorkshire
49. South Norfolk, East of England
50. Derbyshire Dales, East Midlands
For further details:
In a recent poll by YouGov (13/14th March 2012), a representative sample of adults across the UK were asked what they thought were the best landmarks in Britain. Buckingham Palace came out on top 30%, coming in equal second was Stonehenge and the Houses of Parliament 27%, followed by the Tower of London 17%.
Some equally familiar British landmarks were also voted within the Top Ten including the White Cliffs of Dover, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Edinburgh Castle.
However, Lake Windermere in the Lake District 10% made it to the Top Ten list beating off other famous landmarks such as Westminster Abbey 9%, the London Eye 8%, York Minster and Windsor Castle 7%.
Remaining landmarks with lesser votes include the Angel of the North not far behind at 6%, while 1 in 20 people (5%) would visit Mount Snowdon or Forth Bridge. Blackpool Tower, the Iron Bridge Gorge, Nelson’s Column and Ben Nevis all received 4%.
Canterbury Cathedral, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Kings College Cambridge and Wembley Stadium all received 3%, while 2% said the O2 Arena, Glastonbury Tor, or the Cerne Abbas Giant. Only 1% chose attractions such as the Osmington White Horse, Llangollen Bridge, Tyne Bridge, and Arthurs Seat
Full details and results here: