Gross Value Added per head provides an indication of the overall economic vitality of an area. In the Conwy and Denbighshire area we see GVA per head lagging behind Wales and UK levels with a widening of the gap to the UK over the years. Ultimately, we would expect a strong economy to result in prosperous households and individuals leading in turn to a reduction in poverty.
The very latest figures show the long awaited recovery in incomes (anticipated following the recent recession) may have commenced at the UK level but things remain more uncertain locally. Income levels are a key factor in the housing market affecting affordability of housing locally as well as demand for new properties. We have recently seen weakness in the owner-occupier market and increasing reliance on private rented accommodation.
Both local authority areas also have large public sectors which play a significant role in the local economy. In the context of reducing public sectors budget this presents a challenge which could negatively impact on employment levels and demand for goods and services. The Social Care and Health sectors are particularly hard pressed. Increasing recruitment pressures and an aging workforce in the health sector along with concerns about the functioning of social care markets are raised in the assessment. Tourism and Agriculture are also strategically important sectors in both counties.
During the recent economic downturn unemployment rose significantly in both local authority areas. However, the very latest data suggest the two local authority areas are beginning to share in the Great Britain wide labour market recovery. Despite this, Conwy and Denbighshire both exhibit relatively high levels of youth unemployment and suffer from the outmigration of young people away from the area.
In the two authority areas we have seen improving trends regarding skills among the working age population. This includes increasing numbers of people with qualifications at NVQ4 or above and decreasing numbers of people with no qualifications.
We have also seen improvement across a range of attainment indicators with Conwy and Denbighshire reducing historic gaps in attainment, between themselves and Wales. Nevertheless, evidence from international comparators suggest a need to improve significantly beyond the current Wales levels, of educational performance, in order to compete with the best globally.
Neither Conwy nor Denbighshire are homogenous communities but are rather made up of a diverse range of different communities where income, education, employment opportunities and housing all vary substantially. Within this diverse mix are communities in both local authority areas with high concentrations of multiple-deprivation including some parts of Rhyl and Upper Denbigh within Denbighshire; and some parts of Pensarn, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Llysfaen within Conwy.