Social and economic challenges

CornwallDemographicsDisproportionate number of residents aged 75 plus

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a total population of 545,335(as of 2014). The population of Cornwall contains more residents over the age of 75 than the average for England and their number is set to grow significantly and very quickly with a 32% increase by 2024. It is the group most at risk of multiple long-term conditions. If there is no change to current practice, numbers in the 75+ age group will exceed our capacity across health and social care to provide care for them. Family and friends providing care are also growing older (Cornwall Council Case for Cornwall Appendix 3 Transforming Health and Social Care page 3).

Above average life expectancy but only average healthy life expectancy

People in Cornwall live longer but spend more years, on average, living with disability and in poor health. Life expectancy has continued to increase in Cornwall from 79.2 to 79.5 years for men and from 83.3 to 83.5 years for women.

The inequalities gap for life expectancy is closing, down from 5.9 to 5.3 years for men and from 5.2 to 4.4 years for women . Cornwall is ranked 46th out of 150 local authorities for premature deaths. Overall, inequalities are estimated to cost Cornwall’s economy £610 million each year and rising(Cornwall Council Case for Cornwall Appendix 3 Transforming Health and Social Care page 3).

Cornwall is one of the ten poorest regions in Europe

Data produced by Eurostat, the data agency for the European Union positions Cornwall as one of the ten poorest regions in Europe. While the UK has a similar average standard of living to other European countries, this masks the deep inequalities in how wealth and income are distributed. There is no other country in the whole of the EU where the richest region – London – is nearly 5 times as rich as the poorest.

Within the UK, Cornwall some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the country. In Cornwall, one in ten live in the 20% most deprived areas in England. These areas are home to 53,000 people. 15,100 children (under 16) live in poverty, 22.8% of households are in fuel poverty and more than 30,000 people are on health related benefits. People in our disadvantaged communities are at higher risk of living with at least one debilitating condition and for more of their lives. Of those claiming Employment Support Allowance and incapacity benefits 46% report a mental health problem as their primary diagnosis (Cornwall Council Case for Cornwall Appendix 3 Transforming Health and Social Care page 4).

Child Poverty in Cornwall stands at 16.9% Before Housing Costs and 26.3% After Housing Costs

This is slightly different Cornwall Council’s estimation which puts Child Poverty at 17.6% but as it rightly points out, poverty has a major impact on the health and wellbeing of our population both in the short and long term.
The gap between the two different poverty measures (Before Housing Costs and After Housing Costs) has grown. This reflects the rising housing costs over the past decade, pushing more people into poverty. Childcare and housing are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets. Nationally, when you account for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children are pushed into poverty.

Cornwall experiences a combination of higher cost of living and lower than average earnings

A Cost of Living analysis for Cornwall shows that there are a number of higher costs for the average household in Cornwall compared to the national average or to other parts of the UK – this includes water & sewerage charges, costs of energy & transport fuels & mortgages. Costs of living in Cornwall are set in the context of lower than average annual earnings & higher than average house prices.

While Cornwall is far from having the highest proportion of children in poverty – Tower Hamlets in London has 49% and Hackney 41% – there are pockets of real deprivation: Penzance East Ward has 41% of its children in poverty, Bugle Ward 38%, Camborne West 34%, Bodmin Central 30%. These figures are After Housing Costs.

Why do local authorities prefer to use the Before Housing Cost measure?

Before Housing Costs is widely adopted in poverty research in the European Union because it does not rely on a universally recognised definition of housing costs amongst countries and thus makes it easier to compare poverty levels across countries[25] . It also has the added benefit of a reduced figure that some local authorities may wish to use in order to play down social disadvantage in their area for political reasons.

AHC or After Housing Costs is defined to be that derived by deducting a measure of housing costs from the BHC (or Before Housing Cost)measure, which includes the following: rent, water charges, mortgage interest, structural insurance premiums, ground rent, and service charges. The European Union usually adopts the BHC method, while AHC is rarely observed outside the UK.

Cornwall experiences low wages and seasonal employment.

We have the second weakest economy in the country – earnings were 19% below the national average in 2011.
Most businesses are small, around 14% of the working age population is self-employed compared to a national average of 9% and the skills profile in Cornwall continues to be weak despite improvements.