1. Governance
May 25, 2017updated 24 Aug 2023 3:26pm

What does the data tell us about the work ahead of Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram?

By Jonn Elledge

The latest instalment of our weekly series, in which we use the Centre for Cities’ data tools to crunch some of the numbers on Europe’s cities.

The first thing to say about the Liverpool City Region – or LCR, as its jauntier fans call it – is that it’s not the same as Merseyside.

It does contain that late lamented metropolitan county’s five boroughs, sure (Wirral, Sefton, St Helens, Knowsley, plus the City of Liverpool itself). But it also contains neighbouring Halton (that’s Runcorn and around), just off to the east. Many argue that it should be bigger still – just ask Dave – but the addition of Halton alone is already enough to knacker hope anyone data-minded had of just using the numbers on Merseyside.

Luckily, though, the Centre for Cities is here to help. The latest in its increasingly numerous series of data tools pulls together the numbers of the six combined authorities which recently elected their first metro mayors, and enables you to compare the stats on the LCR with those of the nation as a whole. That in turn should give you a sense of the sort of problems facing the region’s newly minted Labour mayor Steve Rotheram.

So – what’s on the to do list? Fire up the okay you get the idea let’s just get on with it.

The skills gap

Well, for one thing, the region’s educational stats aren’t looking too healthy: they’ve improved, but still, nearly one in eight Liverpolitans has no qualifications:

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Its schools are below average, too:

It has more apprenticeship starts, though:

The fact this was also true of the West Midlands makes me suspect that’s a correlation, not a coincidence. In parts of the country struggling with skills gaps, the authorities seem more enthusiastic about trying out new-fangled vocational training schemes.

The money stuff

The local economy is a bit of a challenge too. The Liverpool City Region’s job growth has been lower than the national average:


So the employment rates are significantly below the national average…

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…as are benefit claimant rates…

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…and wages:

The good stuff

But look, we all know what you really come here to read. One of the mayor’s biggest areas of power is going to be over the region’s transport infrastructure. What’s going on there then?

Well, surprisingly little. The number of journeys on the local commuter rail network have increased in the last few years, but really only slightly:

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While the number of bus journeys has been basically – I’m actually kind of shocked – in freefall, falling four times faster than the national average:

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The devolution deal gives the city region’s authorities the powers to introduce London-style bus franchising. Under the current system, it’s a free for all, with private bus companies competing to serve busy routes and ignoring quieter ones. Under the new one, the city authorities will be able to specify fares and service levels.

This – if you view public transport as a vital piece of city infrastructure, rather than just an opportunity to make a few quid – seems to make a lot more sense. Let’s hope Rotherham loves buses as much as we do.

You can explore the data yourself here.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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