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Sustainable Development Indicators, July 2014 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 10 July 2014 Download PDF

Abstract

The Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs) provide an overview of progress towards a sustainable economy, society and environment. There are 12 headline and 23 supplementary indicators, comprising 25 and 41 measures respectively. Where there is sufficient data to be compared, measures have been assessed over the long-term and short-term to show if there has been clear improvement, deterioration or if there has been little or no overall change.

Introduction

The Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs) provide an overview of progress towards a sustainable economy, society and environment.

There are 12 headline and 23 supplementary indicators, which have 25 and 41 measures respectively. Where there is sufficient data to be compared, measures have been assessed over the long-term and short-term to see if there has been clear improvement, deterioration or if there has been little or no overall change. 

Data are the latest available at 27 June 2014. Where possible the indicators have been presented for England. Where data are not available, indicators may be presented for England and Wales combined, or for the UK as a whole.

Responsibility for updating, maintaining and developing the SDIs has transferred to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). ONS is already responsible for the production of the National Well-being measures, and this transfer recognises the close relationship between these measures and the SDIs.

Policy responsibility for mainstreaming sustainable development across Government remains with Defra.

The Sustainable Development Indicator set was launched in 2001, and following consultation in 2012 a streamlined set was published in 2013. The first results from this revised indicator set were published in July 2013.

How indicator measures are assessed

When changes in the indicator measures are small it can be difficult to judge whether they are sufficient to indicate that there has been clear improvement or deterioration. For this reason, each measure has been assessed using a 'traffic light' system. They do not show whether the measure has reached any published or implied targets; they show whether changes in the trends are showing clear improvement or deterioration.

The change of a measure is assessed over a set time. The value of the start year is compared to the end of the end year. Where data are available, two assessment periods have been used:

  • Long-term – an assessment of change since the earliest date for which data are available (usually back to 1990). If the earliest data available is after 2000, no long-term assessment is made.

  • Short-term – an assessment of change for the latest five-year period.

The traffic lights only show the overall change in the measure from the start year to the end year, and do not reflect fluctuations during the intervening years.

The individual measures also have a third marker, showing the direction of change between the two most recent data points. This period is too short for a meaningful assessment. However, when it exceeds a one percentage point threshold, the direction of change is given simply as an acknowledgement of very recent trends, and as a possible early sign of emerging trends.

Making the assessment

The traffic light assessments are as follows:

Where data are not available for the relevant time period, an assessment is not given. For example, if data are only readily available after 2000 a long-term assessment cannot be made. This is shown as not assessed:

Where possible, the traffic light assessment has been made by evaluating trends using statistical analysis techniques. A green or red traffic light is only applied when there is sufficient confidence that the change is statistically significant.

Where it has not been possible to formally determine statistical significance, an assessment has been made by comparing the difference between the value of the measure in the base or start year and the value in the end year against a ‘rule of thumb’ threshold. The standard threshold used is three percentage points. Where an indicator value has changed by less than the threshold of three percentage points, the traffic light has been set at amber, signifying little or no overall change.

A minority of indicators do not have an assessment. This may be for a number of reasons:

  • The indicator is for context, where no action from government would intentionally affect change (for example, projected population estimates).

  • The indicator is based on forecasts or projections and as such the assessment year is unclear (for example, forecasts of public sector net debt and borrowing).

  • There is no clear ‘favourable’ direction of travel (for example, with land use or origins of food). A full explanation of the reasons for this is given in the relevant section.

 

Changes to sources and assessment methods

This publication generally uses the same sources and assessment methods used by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in their July 2013 publication of the Sustainable Development Indicators. Where there have been changes, these are listed below:

Indicator 1: Economic prosperity

The GDP and GDP per head measures are taken from Quarterly National Accounts rather than the Blue Book publication.  
The GDP and GDP per head measures are based on National Accounts methodology. In line with ONS policy no assessment of change is being indicated for these measures.

Indicator 2: Long-term unemployment

The assessment method for the long-term unemployed measure has changed from 3% difference to confidence intervals.

Indicator 9: Greenhouse gas emissions

There have been methodological improvements to the measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with UK consumption. This is an experimental series and a detailed methodological note is available from Defra.

Indicator 19: Avoidable mortality

The assessment method for all three measures has changed from 3 percentage point movements to use of confidence intervals.

Indicator 22: Infant health

To comply with ONS methodology this measure is now produced using the most advantaged occupation of either parent. In the July 2013 publication it was based on father’s occupation only.

Indicator 25: Fuel poverty

This measure is now calculated using the low income high cost (LIHC) definition, as recommended by the Hills Fuel Poverty review. In previous editions it was calculated using the under 10 per cent full income definition.

Indicator 34: Status of species and habitats

Both measures are now based on Biodiversity 2020 indicators.

Key points and summary of assessments

The chart and table below show the number of measures which are showing improvement, deterioration or no change in the long-term  and short-term.

Summary Figure 1: Long-term and short term assessments for all measures

Summary Figure 1: Long-term and short term assessments for all measures

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  • Overall, 18 out of 60 measures showed an improvement over the long-term, and 27 showed improvement over the short-term.

  • Overall,  9 out of 60 measures showed deterioration over the long-term, and 10 showed deterioration over the short-term.

Table 1: Long-term and short-term assessments of economy measures (1)

  Long-term Short-term
  Headline measures Supplementary measures All Headline measures Supplementary measures All
Improving 3 1 4 1 2 3
No change 0 0 0 1 2 3
Deteriorating 0 2 2 4 0 4
Not assessed 5 2 7 2 1 3

Table notes:

  1. Within 'Economy', there are 4 headline indicators including 8 measures, and 6 supplementary indicators including 8 measures. Within the Economy supplementary indicators, three measures have been classed as 'not applicable' for assessment. These are not included in this table.

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  • 4 of the 'Economy' measures showed improvement over the long-term, compared with 3 over the short-term.

  • 2 of the 'Economy' measures showed deterioration over the long-term, compared with 4 over the short-term.  

Table 2: Long-term and short-term assessments of society measures (1)

  Long-term Short-term
  Headline measures Supplementary measures All Headline measures Supplementary measures All
Improving 3 0 3 4 7 11
No change 0 0 0 1 2 3
Deteriorating 1 2 3 1 1 2
Not assessed 4 13 17 2 5 7

Table notes:

  1. Within 'Society' there are four headline indicators including 8 measures and 7 supplementary indicators including 16 measures.

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  • 3 of the 'Society' measures showed improvement over the long-term, compared with 11 over the short-term.

  • 3 of the 'Society' measures showed deterioration over the long-term, compared with 2 over the short-term. 

Table 3: Long-term and short-term assessments of environment measures (1)

  Long-term Short-term
  Headline measures Supplementary measures All Headline measures Supplementary measures All
Improving 4 7 11 3 10 13
No change 2 0 2 3 1 4
Deteriorating 3 1 4 3 1 4
Not assessed 0 7 7 0 3 3

Table notes:

  1. Within 'Environment' there are 4 headline indicators including 9 measures and 10 supplementary indicators including 18 measures. Within the Environment supplementary indicators, 3 measures have been classed as not applicable for assessment. These are not included in this table.

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  • 11 of the 'Environment' measures showed improvement over the long-term, compared with 13 over the short-term.

  • 4 of the 'Environment' measures showed deterioration over the long-term, compared with 3 over the short-term. 

Headline Economic (Indicators 1 to 4)

Indicator 1: Economic prosperity

Comparisons of Gross Domestic Product1 (GDP), GDP per head and median income2

Economic prosperity generally means that the economy is doing well, and that most people have sufficient income. Comparing GDP and median Income gives an indication to economic prosperity.

Figure 1.1: Indices of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), GDP per head and median income

United Kingdom

Figure 1.1: Indices of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), GDP per head and median income
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. GDP forms Quarter 1 2014 Quarterly National Accounts and GDP per capita ONS's UK Economic Accounts.
  2. Median Income is from DWP’s households below average income publication. Median income is presented in financial years, so that 2011 represents 2010/2011. It is income before housing costs.
  3. All figures are adjusted for inflation to represent change in real terms.

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  • GDP peaked in 2007 and then declined as the country entered recession.  Although GDP has increased since the 2008 recession, it remains below 2007 levels.  Since 2010 GDP per head has remained broadly unchanged, despite growth in GDP, because of population growth.

  • After rising fairly steadily since 1997, median incomes fell for the first time between 2010 and 2011 and have continued to decrease through 2012.

Examining income distribution can reveal the inequalities within household income.  Income distribution displays the spread of household income under £1000 per week.

Figure 1.2: Income distribution of the whole population, before housing costs, 2011/12

United Kingdom

Figure 1.2: Income distribution of the whole population, before housing costs, 2011/12

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  • In 2011/12 median income was £427 per week, while the mean income was £528 per week.  This difference is due to the mean being skewed by very high earners.

  • The most commonly used threshold to determine if someone is in relative low income (60% of median income) was £256 per week, before housing costs. The income distribution showed a high concentration of individuals close to this relative low-income threshold.

Indicator 2: Long-term unemployment

Proportion of economically active adults unemployed for over 12 months

Extended periods of unemployment can impact on individuals and families, through loss of income, social isolation, sense of worth and other factors.  Employment enables people to meet their needs and improve their living standards, and is an effective and sustainable way to tackle poverty and social exclusion for those who can work. 

Figure 2.1: Proportion of economically active adults unemployed (1) for over 12 months by age group (2)

United Kingdom

Figure 2.1: Proportion of economically active adults unemployed (1) for over 12 months by age group (2)
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. ILO definition of unemployment – 'Looked for work in the last 4 weeks and available to start job within 2 weeks, or waiting to start a job'. Duration of unemployment is the length of time the respondent reports they have been looking for work (or the period since they left their last job if that is shorter). Its accuracy depends on respondent recall, and it is not possible to measure for certain whether the respondent was unemployed for a continuous period of 12 months or more. Trends in these figures may be affected by welfare reforms that are helping people previously in receipt of inactivity benefits to start looking for work and become unemployed. Many of these people will have been out of work for an extended period of time and are therefore more likely to report that they have been looking for work for 12 months or more, even if that didn't involve active job search.
  2. Annual figures are represented by the October to December period each year.

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  • The proportion of economically active adults aged 16 and over who had been unemployed for over 12 months fell 0.1 percentage points between 2012 and 2013, to 2.6 %.  After a steady decline between the early 1990s and 2004, there was a 1.7 percentage point rise between 2004 and 2013.

  • Unemployment rates fell for all age groups between 2012 and 2013. The largest decrease was for those aged 16 to 17, where the unemployment rate fell by 0.9 percentage points.

  • The proportion of those aged 18 to 24 who were unemployed for over 12 months in 2013 was relatively unchanged since 1993 (5.7% and 6.2% respectively). However, the rate fell notably in the mid to late 1990s before rising again, with the fall noticeable in all age groups.  There were lower rates of long-term unemployment in 2013 for those aged 25 to 49 and those aged over 50, compared to 1993.

Indicator 3: Poverty

Proportion of children in low-income households

Poverty can perpetuate from one generation to the next, and the proportion of children in poverty is a key issue for intergenerational well-being.  Poverty is measured by the proportion of children living in households with incomes below 60% of the median.

Figure 3.1: Proportion of children in relative and absolute low income households before housing costs (1,2,3)

England

Figure 3.1: Proportion of children in relative and absolute low income households before housing costs (1,2,3)

Notes:

  1. A household is considered to be in relative low income if it receives less than 60 per cent of the average income in the year in question. A household is in absolute low income if they receive less than 60 per cent of average income in 2010/11 adjusted by inflation.
  2. Figures for England have been presented on a single-year basis and will therefore be different from those published in the HBAI 2011/12 publication.
  3. This analysis uses a 'Before housing costs' measure. This maintains consistency with targets set out in the Child Poverty Act and the broader set of income measures in the Child Poverty Strategy. International comparisons are also calculated this way. When considering the living standards of children, measures After Housing Costs can underestimate the true standard of living. This is because a family may make a choice to spend more on rent or mortgage to attain a higher standard of accommodation.

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  • In 2012/13, relative low income before housing costs in England remained at its lowest rate since the series started in 1994/95, at 17%. Much of the reduction since 1998/99 was driven by increased entitlements to state support.

  • The proportion of children in England living in relative low-income households has fallen since the mid-1990s, levelling off in the mid-2000s before declining to 2010/11 then stabilising.  The stabilisation between 2010/11 and 2011/12 is because incomes for families with children at the lower end of the income distribution fell at the same rate as incomes around the median.

  • Between 2011/12 and 2012/13, absolute low income before housing costs increased by two percentage points from 17% to 19%.

  • The increase in the proportion of children living in absolute low income households is because Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation3 rose faster than incomes did for households with children.

Indicator 4: Knowledge and skills

Value of Human Capital (£)

The value of human capital is difficult to measure, as the international statistical community have not agreed a definition.

The concept of human capital is broad and encompasses a range of personal attributes, such as people’s health conditions. However, in practical terms the focus of measurement has been limited to people’s skills, knowledge and abilities, and in particular on the role of formal education and training in developing them.

Human capital is recognised as having important economic benefits; for example, there is a link between increased human capital (as measured by qualifications) and economic growth4. For this indicator, the measurement of human capital has been restricted to people’s skills and abilities5

Figure 4.1: Human capital stock (£ trillion) and human capital per head (£ thousand) (1,2,3)

United Kingdom

Figure 4.1: Human capital stock (£ trillion) and human capital per head (£ thousand) (1,2,3)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures in 2012 prices.
  2. Labour productivity growth rate = 2%.
  3. Discount rate = 3.5%.

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  • The value of total human capital stock fell from £18.0 trillion in 2011 to £17.9 trillion in 2012.  Human capital has risen by £0.8 trillion between 2004 (£17.1 trillion) and 2012.

  • There was a steady accumulation of human capital per capita between 2004 and 2007. In 2008, the per capita figure began to decline, and has been in decline ever since. This is despite growth in the total stock of human capital.  This is a result of growth in the size of the working age population. In 2012, the average full human capital stock per head of working age population was £445,479, a decrease of £1,922 on the 2011 estimate.

Figure 4.2: Employed human capital (£ trillion) by age group, 2012 (1,2,3)

United Kingdom

Figure 4.2: Employed human capital (£ trillion) by age group, 2012 (1,2,3)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Components may not sum to total due to rounding.
  2. Labour productivity growth rate = 2%.
  3. Discount rate = 3.5%.

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  • The stock of human capital is disproportionately concentrated in younger workers.  For example, 41.2% of the working age population are aged between 16 and 35, but this group embodies 65.9% of the human capital stock. This shows that being relatively young and having more years of paid employment remaining more than offsets the effect of having higher earnings whilst being relatively old.


 
 

 

Notes for Headline Economic (Indicators 1 to 4)

  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the scale of economic activity (goods and services produced) within a country.  GDP per head (also known as per capita) is equivalent GDP per individual in the population, which allows us to take into account effects of changes in the population size. 
  2. Median income is commonly considered to be a better representation of income distribution.  The use of mean income would be skewed by the extremely wealthy. The median income is the amount at which income distribution can be split into two groups, where half of the population would be above the median income and half would be below.

  3. The RPI is a long-standing measure of UK inflation that has historically been used for a wide range of purposes, such as the indexation of pensions, rents and index-linked gilts.
  4. Barro R J and Sala-i-Martin X (2004) Economic Growth, second edition,  Boston: MIT Press.

  5. This measure is based on the value of qualifications gained during education, including early childhood education, school-based compulsory education, post-compulsory vocational or general education, tertiary education, labour market education and adult education.  As the population grows, changes in human capital can be masked when looking at the stock measure, and we have therefore also presented human capital per head. This measure of human capital is currently experimental.  Measures of human capital are still being developed and may have a slightly different form in the future.

Headline Society (Indicators 5 to 8)

Indicator 5: Healthy life expectancy

Healthy life expectancy at birth

As life expectancy continues to increase, it is important to understand whether increasing longevity is accompanied by longer periods in favourable or unfavourable health states.  Variations in the proportion of life spent in good health have impacts on general health and well-being as well as having potentially significant implications for future healthcare resource need and fitness for work in the face of planned state pension age increases.

Figure 5.1: Years of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at birth (1)

England

Figure 5.1: Years of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at birth (1)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. The methodology for healthy life expectancy data changed in 2005–2007. The figures shown for years prior to 2005–07 are simulated estimates based on the methodology.

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  • Healthy life expectancy in England is increasing for both males and females.  The proportion of life spent in very good or good health increased between 2005–07 and 2008–10. Therefore men and women could expect to spend longer periods of their longer lives in very good or good health.

  • Females have higher life expectancy and healthy life expectancy than males.  This can be explained by a number of factors; for example, higher rates of obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking amongst men are all statistically associated with increased risk of mortality and morbidity.

Indicator 6: Social capital

Civic participation, social participation, social networks and trust

Social capital can be described as the pattern and intensity of networks among people, and the shared values which arise from those networks.  While definitions vary, the main aspects include citizenship, 'neighbourliness', social networks and civic participation1. These measures may change slightly over time as Cabinet Office and the Office for National Statistics further develop their work on measuring social capital. 

Figure 6.1: The proportion of people engaging in actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern at least once a year (1)

England

Figure 6.1: The proportion of people engaging in actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern at least once a year (1)
Source: Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office

Notes:

  1. Data for 2001 to 2010/11 collected via the Citizenship Survey. Data for 2012/13 onwards is collected via the Community Life Survey. The question measuring civic participation was updated in 2012/13 to include online participation, and so the trend data is not directly comparable.

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  • In August 2012 to April 2013, 41% of people in England engaged in actions addressing issues of public concern, including online activities.

  • Between 2001 and 2010–11 the proportion of people engaging in actions addressing issues of public concern decreased significantly.  The subsequent increase in August 2012 to April 2013 is not comparable with earlier years’ data due to question being changed to include online participation.

Figure 6.2: The proportion of people engaging in any volunteering activity at least once a year (1)

England

Figure 6.2: The proportion of people engaging in any volunteering activity at least once a year (1)
Source: Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office

Notes:

  1. Data for 2001 to 2010/11 collected via the Citizenship Survey. Data for 2012/13 onwards is collected via the Community Life Survey. 'Any volunteering' includes participation in either formal on informal volunteering.

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  • The proportion of people in England volunteering either formally or informally decreased from 74% in 2001 to 72% in August 2012 to April 2013.

  • From a peak of 76% of people engaging in some kind of volunteering in 2005, this proportion declined by 11 percentage points to a low of 65% in 2010–11.

  • Between 2010–11 and August 2012 to April 2013, there was an increase of seven percentage points back to 2007–8 levels.

Figure 6.3: The proportion of people who have a partner, family member or friend to rely on if they have a serious problem, 2010/11 (1)

England

Figure 6.3: The proportion of people who have a partner, family member or friend to rely on if they have a serious problem, 2010/11 (1)

Notes:

  1. Based on the proportion of respondents agreeing that they had a partner, friend or family member they could rely on 'a lot', 'somewhat' or 'a little' if they had a serious problem. Proportions are calculated for all aged over 16 and not only those who have said they have a partner, friend or relative to rely on.

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  • In 2010/11 almost all (98%) of adults aged 16 and over in England had a friend, relative or partner they could rely on at least a little if they had a serious problem.

Figure 6.4: The proportion of people agreeing that people in their neighbourhood can be trusted (1)

England

Figure 6.4: The proportion of people agreeing that people in their neighbourhood can be trusted (1)
Source: Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office

Notes:

  1. Data for 2001 to 2010/11 collected via the Citizenship Survey. Data for 2012/13 onwards is collected via the Community Life Survey.

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  • In August 2012 to April 2013, 41% of adults in England agreed that people in their neighbourhoods could be trusted.

  • The proportion of people agreeing that people in their neighbourhood could be trusted increased significantly between 2007–08 and 2010–11, but following a decline in August 2012 to April 2013 there has been no significant overall change since 2007–08.

Indicator 7: Social Mobility in Adulthood

Proportion of adults in managerial or professional positions by social background

Patterns of inequality and a lack of social mobility can carry over from one generation to the next and this is a key issue for intergenerational well-being.  Improving social mobility is about making sure individuals can fulfil their potential, regardless of their own or their parents’ background.

Figure 7.1: Proportion of 16 to 65 year-olds who are in paid employment who are in managerial or professional positions by social background using father's occupational group (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 7.1: Proportion of 16 to 65 year-olds who are in paid employment who are in managerial or professional positions by social background using father's occupational group (1)

Notes:

  1. More advantaged groups are those whose fathers were employed in managerial or professional positions. Less advantaged groups are those whose fathers were in intermediate, manual or routine occupations or unemployed. This is based on the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC).

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  • Around twice as many adults from ‘advantaged groups’ are in employment in managerial or professional positions than those from less advantaged groups.

  • The proportion of people in managerial or professional positions has increased since 1991–95, both for advantaged and less advantaged groups.

  • The gap between the two groups has remained similar over time.

Indicator 8: Housing provision

Annual net additional dwellings

As the number of households increases so too does the need for an adequate housing supply. Additional housing provision offers economic and social sustainability and should be looked at alongside other aspects of sustainable development.

Figure 8.1: Trends in net additional dwellings

England

Figure 8.1: Trends in net additional dwellings
Source: Communities and Local Government

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  • From 2000–01, net housing supply increased for seven consecutive years, reaching a peak of 223,530 net additional dwellings in 2007–08.

  • Housing supply was strongly affected by the economic downturn and supply then fell. In 2012–13, annual housing supply amounted to 124,720 net additional dwellings. This is an 8% decrease in net additional dwellings from 2011–12 and 44% below the 2007-08 peak.


 

Notes for Headline Society (Indicators 5 to 8)

  1. The indicators in this section have been chosen to reflect four domains of a framework on social capital developed by the Office for National Statistics.  These four domains are: civic participation, which relates to individual involvement in local and national affairs and perceptions of ability to influence them; social participation, which means involvement in, and volunteering for, organised groups; social networks, which refers to contact with, and support from, family and friends; and reciprocity and trust which refers to the amount of trust individuals have in those they know and do not know, as well was trust in formal institutions.

Headline Environment (Indicators 9 to 12)

Indicator 9: Greenhouse gas emissions

UK Greenhouse gas emissions1

Human emissions of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution are very likely responsible for most of the global surface warming seen over recent decades.

Figure 9.1: Greenhouse gas emissions (1) million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent

United Kingdom

Figure 9.1: Greenhouse gas emissions (1) million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent

Notes:

  1. 2013 data are provisional.

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  • Emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases fell 2.1% and 1.9% respectively between 2012 and 2013.  Nonetheless, carbon dioxide emissions are 127 million tonnes lower in 2013 than 1990, and greenhouse gas emissions are 208 million tonnes lower.

  • Emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases have fallen 21.5% and 26.7% respectively between 1990 and 2013.

Emissions associated with UK Consumption

Estimates of territorial emissions published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change cover only those emissions generated in the UK.  Consumption emissions estimates published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs relate to those associated with UK consumption, wherever in the world these emissions occur. This allows us to understand the overseas impact on emissions our consumption is having. For a more sustainable world, both our territorial emissions and our consumption emissions should decrease.

Figure 9.2: Greenhouse gas emissions million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) associated with UK consumption (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 9.2: Greenhouse gas emissions million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) associated with UK consumption (1)
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. The greenhouse gases figures for consumption emissions are currently classified as experimental statistics.

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Carbon dioxide emissions fell 21.8% from their peak in 2004 to 2011, and also fell 4.7% between 2010 and 2011.  Greenhouse gas emissions were 21.1% lower in 2011 than in 2004, and 3.1% lower than in 2010.  It should be noted that emissions of greenhouse gases are currently classified as experimental.

Indicator 10: Natural Resource Use

Consumption of raw construction and non-construction materials

Natural resource use is a consumption-based-indicator showing the amount of material used to meet UK consumption2.  A reduction in non-renewable resource use, either by switching to renewable materials from sustainable sources, or from increased resource productivity, would be a positive outcome. To examine changes in resource productivity, and the comparative changes in materials, an indexed time series against Gross Domestic Productivity (GDP) is used.

Figure 10.1: Raw material consumption of construction and non–construction materials (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 10.1: Raw material consumption of construction and non–construction materials (1)
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. Excludes use of fossil fuels. These are currently classified as experimental statistics.

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  • Consumption of construction materials dropped by 31% between 2000 and 2011.  Consumption of non-construction materials has risen and fallen over the same period, with the recent rise leaving it similar to the 2000 level.

  • The consistent decrease in consumption of construction materials coupled with higher GDP since 2000 suggests that there has been an increase in resource productivity.  However, the recession has undoubtedly impacted the fall in construction materials from 2008 onwards.

  • Revised Raw Material Consumption estimates (including and excluding fossil fuels) for 2000 to 2012 are available in the UK Environmental Accounts, 2014 Material Flows Account dataset. Estimates split by ‘construction’ and ‘non-construction’ materials were not available at the time of publication of the Sustainable Development Indicators.

Indicator 11: Wildlife

Populations of wild birds3

Natural capital includes those elements of the environment that provide resources and ecosystem services. We cannot determine our entire capital of natural resources and instead have to focus on selected aspects of the natural environment and changes in its state.  Populations of key species of birds are a good indicator of the broad state of wildlife and countryside because they occupy a wide range of habitats and key positions in the food chain.

Figure 11.1: Populations of wild birds (1,2)

England

Figure 11.1: Populations of wild birds (1,2)

Notes:

  1. Dashed lines represent the smoothed trend. The solid lines represent unsmoothed individual data points for each year. Assessments of change are made based on smooth data where possible.
  2. Figures in brackets give the number of species.

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  • In 2012, the breeding farmland birds index in England was 49% of its value in 1970. Most of the decline in farmland birds occurred between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, largely due to the impact of rapid changes in farmland management during this period.

  • In 2012, the breeding woodland bird index in the UK was 18% lower than its 1970 level. The greatest decline of woodland birds occurred from the late 1980s until the early 1990s, and the index has shown improvement in recent years.

  • In 2012, the breeding water and wetland bird index in the UK was 7% lower than its 1975 level. 

  • In 2012 the breeding seabird index in the UK was 2% from its baseline level in 1986.  

Indicator 12: Water use

Abstractions from non-tidal surface waters and ground waters

Water is a vital resource that needs to be managed carefully to ensure both that people have access to affordable and safe drinking water and sanitation, and that industry needs are met, without depleting water resources or damaging ecosystems.  A decrease in abstraction over a period of several years means less water is being taken from surface and ground waters.  As this indicator has been included to represent the state of our natural environmental (water) stocks, a decrease in abstractions has been assessed on balance as being a favourable outcome.  Year-on-year estimated direct actual abstraction is likely to fluctuate up or down as a consequence of a range of factors; such as changes in abstraction licences, prevailing weather conditions and changes in patterns of water use.  As such, an increase in abstraction may also be observed in the estimates.

Figure 12.1: Estimate of actual direct abstractions from non–tidal surface waters and groundwaters (1)

England and Wales

Figure 12.1: Estimate of actual direct abstractions from non–tidal surface waters and groundwaters (1)

Notes:

  1. Data relates only to direct abstraction authorised by the Environment Agency.

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  • The volume of water abstracted from non-tidal surface and groundwater in England and Wales has fallen over the last 20 years from an estimated peak of 16.5 billion cubic metres in 1992 to an estimated 13.7 billion cubic metres in 2012.

  • Of the 13.7 billion cubic metres abstracted from non-tidal surface water and groundwater in 2012, 42% was for the public water supply and 42% for the electricity supply industry.

Figure 12.2: Estimate of direct actual abstractions from non-tidal surface waters and ground waters by use (1,2)

England and Wales

Figure 12.2: Estimate of direct actual abstractions from non-tidal surface waters and ground waters by use (1,2)

Notes:

  1. Data relates only to direct abstraction authorised by the Environment Agency.
  2. 'Other' includes spray irrigation, agriculture (exc. spray irrigation), private water supply.

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Notes for Headline Environment (Indicators 9 to 12)

  1. The data from this indicator is derived from the UK greenhouse gas emission statistics produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The indicator focuses on the basket of greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto protocol.

  2. This includes material used in the production of imports to the UK which is not incorporated into the product.  The indicator has two components: construction materials (e.g. sand and gravel) and non-construction materials (i.e. biomass and minerals).  This indicator does not include fossil fuels or other energy carriers.

  3. To better capture patterns in the data, where possible, long term and short term assessments are made on the basis of smoothed data. While percentage changes in these indices are reported based on the most recent unsmoothed data point (2012) any long-term and short-term assessment of the statistical significance of these changes is made using the smoothed data point from 2011.  This is because, due to the methods used to produce smooth trends, the most recent smoothed data point (for 2012) is likely to change in next year’s update when additional data are included for 2013.  Smoothed data are available for farmland birds, woodland birds and wetland birds, but not for seabirds.  All latest year assessments are based on unsmoothed data.  

Supplementary Economy (Indicators 13 to 18)

Indicator 13: Population Demographics

Total population in England

Population and population growth are key drivers behind many challenges for sustainable development as population growth increases the pressure on resources and services.  Household projections are an indication of the likely increase in households given the continuation of recent demographic trends.  Household formation may increase the pressure for housing or resources and services.

Figure 13.1: Total population and projected population (1)

England

Figure 13.1: Total population and projected population (1)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Projections are from 2013 onwards.

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Figure 13.2: Index of total population and projected population (1)

England

Figure 13.2: Index of total population and projected population (1)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Projections are from 2013 onwards.

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In 2012, the estimated population in England increased to around 53,494,000, of which around 34,307,000 were classed as working age.

  • The projections of population show that the population of people over working age will continue to increase at a faster rate than the rest of the population.

  • By 2022 it is projected that 19.3% of the English population will be made up of those over working age compared with 13.4% in 1971.

Households in England

Figure 13.3: Total number of households and projected household numbers (1,2,3)

England

Figure 13.3:  Total number of households and projected household numbers (1,2,3)
Source: Communities and Local Government

Notes:

  1. All projections are 2011-based and project forward 10 years from 2011 (base year) to 2021. The 2011-based interim household projections are linked to the Office for National Statistics 2011-based interim subnational population projections. Estimates are not available for 2001–2011
  2. A household is defined as one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address with common housekeeping – that is, sharing either a living room or sitting room or at least one meal day.
  3. Projections are represented by a dashed line.

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  • There was a 38% rise in the number of households in England between 1971 and 2011.

  • The number of households is projected to continually increase from just over 22 million in 2011 to around 24.3 million in 2021.

This indicator is for context and is not assessed.

Indicator 14: Debt

Public sector net debt (percentage of GDP) and public sector net borrowing (percentage of GDP)

 

Figure 14.1: Public Sector Net Debt (Percentage of GDP) and Public Sector Net Borrowing (Percentage of GDP) (1,2,3)

United Kingdom

Figure 14.1: Public Sector Net Debt (Percentage of GDP) and Public Sector Net Borrowing (Percentage of GDP) (1,2,3)

Notes:

  1. Data is forecast from 2013–14 onwards.
  2. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the scale of economic activity (goods and services produced) within a country. GDP per head (also known as per capita) is equivalent GDP per individual in the population which allows us to take into account effects of changes in the population size.
  3. Debt at the end of March; centred on end of March. When expressed as percentage of GDP, this uses forecast GDP. All fiscal forecasts are subject to significant uncertainty, described in more detail in the OBR's Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

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  • Public sector net debt (PSND) as a proportion of GDP increased in the mid 1990s, decreased in 2001–02 and then gradually rose until a sharp upturn in 2009-10.  PSND is forecast to rise as a share of GDP to 2015–16, peaking at 78.7% of GDP, before falling to 74.2% of GDP in 2018–19.

  • On the underlying measure (excluding APF and Royal Mail transfers), Public sector net borrowing (PNSB) as a proportion of GDP declined from the early 1990s to 2000–01. Since 2002-03, PSNB has been broadly around 3% of GDP before increasing sharply between 2007–08 and 2009–10. According to the independent OBR, it is forecast to decline from 7.3% of GDP in 2012–13 to -0.2% of GDP in 2018–19.

As this indicator is a forward look forecast it is subject to revisions, and therefore does not have a traffic light assessment.

Indicator 15: Pension Provision

Percentage of eligible workers in a workplace pension

Financial security is an important contribution to personal well-being, and pension provision is an important aspect of a sustainable economy.  A lack of adequate pension provision (particularly for an ageing population) would have long-term consequences for the sustainability of public finances, the economy and society.

Figure 15.1: Percentage of workers in the automatic enrolment eligible population with a workplace pension scheme (1,2)

Great Britain

Figure 15.1: Percentage of workers in the automatic enrolment eligible population with a workplace pension scheme (1,2)
Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. The automatic enrolment eligible population refers to workers aged at least 22 and under State Pension age, and who earn £8,105 or more per year (in 2012/13 earnings terms).
  2. These data are DWP estimates derived from the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

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  • Between 2012 and 2013 the proportion of eligible employees in a pension scheme sponsored by their employer rose 3.2 percentage points to 58%. This reverses the previous downward trend and may reflect the positive impact of the first six months of automatic enrolment implementation. This figure is a fall of 6.4 percentage points from 1997. 

Indicator 16: Physical Infrastructure

Asset net worth by structure type

A sustainable economy has to maintain the physical capital needed to support production. This measure looks at the extent to which the UK is improving its stock of fixed capital, as measured by the value of its tangible asset base1

Figure 16.1: Estimated asset net worth at year end by type of structure, at current prices

United Kingdom

Figure 16.1: Estimated asset net worth at year end by type of structure, at current prices
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Non–financial assets include both tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets consist of property, machinery, agricultural assets, vehicles, farming stock and some military equipment. Intangible assets refer to computer software, patents, mineral exploration and artistic originals. Financial assets (not included in this graph) refer to means of payment, financial claims, loans and economic assets that are close to financial claims in nature. The category ’Other’ comprises cultivated assets, inventories, intangible fixed assets and intangible non-produced assets.

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  • Total estimated non-financial asset net worth increased from £4.7 trillion in 2002 to £7.4 trillion in 2012.

  • Estimated asset net worth continues to increase with each structure type currently at its highest net worth in the last 10 years.

  • The estimated net worth of dwellings fell around 9% in 2008 due to a decline in the housing market.  A steady recovery in prices alongside additional dwellings has increased the estimated net worth in 2012 to over 2007 levels.

Indicator 17: Research and development

Research and development in cash and real terms

Business innovation and research and development are vital ingredients in raising the productivity, competitiveness and growth potential of modern economies. The indicator compares cash terms (the actual amount spent) and real terms (prices indexed to 2012). By looking at the real terms we can see how much spending has actually increased (whilst controlling for inflation) which allows a better perspective on actual changes in spending.

Figure 17.1: Expenditure on research and development performed in businesses (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 17.1: Expenditure on research and development performed in businesses (1)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. At 2012 prices.

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  • Research and development spending in cash terms has increased from £11.5 billion in 2000 to £17.1 billion in 2012. Spending decreased between 2011 and 2012 by £0.4 billion from £17.5 billion in 2011.

  • Research and development spending in real terms has increased from £15 billion in 2000 to £17.1 billion in 2012. The use of real terms shows us that although spending has increased by £5.6 billion (in cash terms) since 2000, it has only increased £2.2 billion in real terms. The discrepancy of £3.4 billion can be explained by price inflation.

Research and development on environmental protection

Research and development specific to environmental protection by business is important to a sustainable economy through businesses minimising their impact and supporting the local environment.

Figure 17.2: Expenditure on research and development related to environmental expenditure

United Kingdom

Figure 17.2: Expenditure on research and development related to environmental expenditure
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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  • Research and development related to environmental protection rose from £162.4 million in 2000 to £261.0 million in 2011, but decreased to £150.0 million in 2012. Environmental protection expenditure can be quite volatile and the general trend should be observed.

  • With the exception of 2009, the amount spent on research and development by business has increased year-on-year between 2006 and 2011.

Indicator 18: Environmental Goods and Services Sector

Sales of low carbon and environmental goods and services

Moving towards a green economy includes developing opportunities and markets for environmentally oriented goods, services and jobs. The low carbon and environmental goods and services sector could be a key part of future social and economic prosperity.

Figure 18.1: Total sales in the Environment Goods and Services Sector (1)

England

Figure 18.1: Total sales in the Environment Goods and Services Sector (1)
Source: Business, Innovation and Skills, Energy and Climate Change, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. All figures include supply chain.

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The value of the environmental goods and services sector has consistently risen between 2007/08 and 2011/12. The sector is now valued at £109 billion.

  • Renewable Energy is the fastest growing section of the environmental goods and services sector, growing by 6.2% from 2010/11 to 2011/12. 

Notes for Supplementary Economy (Indicators 13 to 18)

  1. Tangible fixed assets comprise buildings and other structures (including historic monuments), vehicles, other machinery and equipment, and cultivated assets in the form of livestock and orchards.

Supplementary Society (Indicators 19 to 25)

Indicator 19: Avoidable Mortality

Mortality from causes considered avoidable

This indicator presents mortality figures for causes of death that are considered avoidable with timely and effective healthcare, or public health interventions (avoidable mortality).  Also presented are trends in mortality by causes considered preventable (if the death could be avoided by public health interventions) or amenable (treatable) to healthcare, which are subsets of total avoidable mortality.

Figure 19.1: Mortality rate per 100,000 population due to avoidable causes (1,2)

England and Wales

Figure 19.1: Mortality rate per 100,000 population due to avoidable causes (1,2)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year and exclude deaths of non-residents.
  2. Rates per 100,000 population are standardised to the 1976 European Standard Population.

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  • Mortality from causes considered avoidable has decreased by 30% between 2001 and 2012.

  • Mortality from causes considered amenable has decreased at a faster rate than those considered preventable, declining by 41% and 28% respectively between 2001 and 2012.

Indicator 20: Obesity

Prevalence of being overweight or obese in children and adults

Obesity is one of the most serious risks to health in Europe, being linked to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.  Overweight children are of particular concern, because when unhealthy food habits and an inactive lifestyle continues over years the result is obesity

Figure 20.1: Percentage of adults and children overweight or obese (1,2,3,4,5)

England

Figure 20.1: Percentage of adults and children overweight or obese (1,2,3,4,5)

Notes:

  1. All young adults from core and boost samples in 2002 were included in analysis of those aged 16 to 24, but only the core sample was included in the overall total.
  2. Data up to 2002 are unweighted; from 2003 onwards data have been weighted for non–response.
  3. All adults from core and boost samples in 2005 were included in analysis of 65–74 and 75+ age groups, but only the core sample was included in the overall total.
  4. Overweight including obese adults = BMI 25kg/m2 or more.
  5. Overweight including obese children = BMI ≥85th centile of the British 1990 growth reference.

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  • Between 1993 and 2012, adults that were overweight or obese rose by 9.0 percentage points from 52.9% to 61.9%. The proportion of children aged 2 to 15 that were overweight or obese rose by 2.9 percentage points between 1995 and 2012. These increases could be due to poor diet and sedentary lifestyles amongst the population.

Figure 20.2: Percentage of children overweight or obese based on deprivation level (1)

England

Figure 20.2: Percentage of children overweight or obese based on deprivation level (1)

Notes:

  1. 'Most deprived' refers to children in the most deprived 10% of areas, as measured by Department for Communities and Local Government's Index of Multiple Deprivation.

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  • Rates of childhood obesity vary depending on the deprivation level and age of the child.  Children from more deprived backgrounds have a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than those that are less deprived. 

Indicator 21: Lifestyles

A healthy and active population is vital to making the country a more sustainable society.  Good diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle can lead to long-term benefits, for both health and general wellbeing.

Prevalence of smoking among adults

This indicator features in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for England. Smoking is an unhealthy lifestyle choice that is linked with a range of long-term health problems.

Figure 21.1: Proportion of people aged over 18 who smoke

England

Figure 21.1: Proportion of people aged over 18 who smoke
Source: Integrated Household Survey - Office for National Statistics

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  • Prevalence of smoking has fallen by 1.6 percentage points between 2009–10 and 2012. 

Proportion of urban trips under five miles taken by sustainable method

The use of sustainable local travel contributes to improvements in road safety and in public health. This indicator shows the proportion of all trips under five miles by English residents living in an urban area (settlement over 3,000 population) where the main mode of transport was walking or cycling, and public transport.

Figure 21.2: Proportion of urban trips under five miles taken by walking/cycling or public transport

England

Figure 21.2: Proportion of urban trips under five miles taken by walking/cycling or public transport

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  • In 2012, 39% of urban trips under five miles in England were taken by walking or cycling and 8% were taken by public transport. 

  • Since 2007 the proportion of urban trips taken by walking or cycling and public transport has remained similar.

Proportion of physically active and inactive adults

Physical activity is a core aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Lack of sufficient physical activity costs the NHS over £1bn per year to the wider economy – and is one of the top risk factors for premature mortality. This indicator is aligned with the Public Health Outcome Framework (PHOF). Physical activity in this indicator includes sport, recreational cycling, recreational walking, walking and cycling for travel purposes, dancing and gardening.  The PHOF defines physically active adults as those adults 'doing more than 150 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity per week in sessions of 10 minutes or more'.

Figure 21.3: Proportion of adults doing physical activity by time spent exercising, 2012-13

England

Figure 21.3: Proportion of adults doing physical activity by time spent exercising, 2012-13

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  • Over half (56%) of the population are undertaking at least the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.

  • Just under a third (29%) of the population does less than 30 minutes of exercise per week.  In total, 44% of adults are not doing the recommended amount of weekly activity.

Average daily consumption of fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are key components to a healthy balanced diet and an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Figure 21.4: Average daily consumption of '5 a day' portions by age group, 2011/12 (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 21.4: Average daily consumption of '5 a day' portions by age group, 2011/12 (1)

Notes:

  1. Includes fruit and vegetables as part of composite dishes, but excludes potatoes. Fruit juice is included, up to a maximum contribution of one portion per day. Baked beans and other pulses are included, up to a maximum contribution of one portion per day.

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On average, adults consumed over four portions of fruit and vegetables per day in the three survey years to 2010-11.  Children aged between 11 and 18 ate on average fewer than three portions per day.

Low income households

Trends in fruit and vegetable purchasing from Defra’s Family Food Survey can be presented for low income groups.  The statistics are not directly comparable with those from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey because of the different data collection methods used in the surveys.  They also reflect portions bought rather than eaten, and do not take into account fruit and vegetables consumed as part of composite dishes. 

Figure 21.5:Trends in fruit and veg purchases measured as portions (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 21.5:Trends in fruit and veg purchases measured as portions (1)
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. Excludes potatoes.

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  • Daily fruit and vegetable purchases in 2012 were at a similar average level for all households as they were in 2001–2, at 4 portions.  There was a temporary increase to an average of 4.4 portions in 2005–6 and 2006.

  • In 2012 households with the lowest income purchased one portion of fruit and vegetables less per day than the overall average.  The trend over time is similar to the overall trend, with 2.9 purchases per person per day both in 2001–2 and 2012, and a temporary increase to 3.5 portions per day in 2005–6.

Indicator 22: Infant health

Birthweight can be an important indicator of community health and health inequalities, which are key issues for the long-term health of our society.

This indicator shows low birth weight of full term live births in England where the birth weight is less than 2,500g, and corresponds with the Public Health Outcome Framework indicators.

Incidence of low birth weight in full term live births 

Figure 22.1: Proportion of full term live births with weight less than 2,500g (1)

England

Figure 22.1: Proportion of full term live births with weight less than 2,500g (1)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Includes term and post term live births.

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  • In 2011, 2.8% of full term live births had a low birth weight.

  • The proportion of full term live births that weigh less than 2,500g in England fell by 9.7% between 2005 and 2011.

Differences in socio-economic groups

An analysis of low birth weight by the occupation of parents can highlight any differences between different socio-economic groups.  This breakdown is not currently available for full term births so the analysis is presented for all live births.  As such it includes premature babies and therefore the proportion of babies born with a low birth weight is higher in Figure 22.2 than in Figure 22.1.

Figure 22.2: Proportion of all live births with weight less than 2,500g based on parent's occupation (1, 2)

England

Figure 22.2: Proportion of all live births with weight less than 2,500g based on parent's occupation (1, 2)
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Low birth weight of all live births where the most advantaged of either parent’s occupation is classified as managerial, professional or intermediate. The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC rebased on the SOC2010).
  2. Low birth weight of all live births where the most advantaged of either parent’s occupation is classified as routine and manual occupations, never worked or long–term unemployed. The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC rebased on the SOC2010).

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  • Where the parent’s occupation was routine, manual or long-term unemployed, 7.1% of live births weighed less than 2,500g.  For this group, the proportion of live births with a low birth weight decreased between 2005 and 2012.

  • Where the parent’s occupation was managerial or professional, 6.0% of live births weighed less than 2,500g.  Over the period 2005 to 2012, the proportion of live births with a low birth weight in this group decreased slightly.

  • This means that while there was still a higher rate of low birth weight in births where the parent’s occupation was routine, manual or long-term unemployed. In 2012 the gap between the two socio-economic groups was 1.1 percentage points.

Indicator 23: Air quality

Days when air quality is moderate or higher in the UK

Poor air quality can have effects on health and well-being due to both short-term and long-term exposure.  Individuals with existing heart or respiratory conditions are at greater risk of experiencing effects when levels of air pollutants rise.  The number of days when air quality is 'moderate or higher' is an indicator of how often air pollution is raised to levels when there is an increased risk of health effects from short-term exposure.

Through improving air quality people will be at less risk from the effects of poor air quality, and may be more likely to spend more time in the natural environment.  An improvement in air quality would be reflected by a lower number of pollution days in this indicator.

Figure 23.1: Days when air pollution is moderate or higher (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 23.1: Days when air pollution is moderate or higher (1)

Notes:

  1. Pollution days are defined using the Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) banding system. The system uses an index numbered 1–10, divided into four bands (1–3 = low, 4–6 = moderate, 7–9 = high, 10 = very high). The DAQI is determined by the highest concentration of five pollutants – particular matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone.

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  • The average number of pollution days in urban sites in 2013 was 14 days.  This compares with 17 days in 2012 and 15 days in 2010.  The average number of pollution days in rural sites in 2013 was 16 days, compared with 12 days in 2012 and 10 days in 2010.

Indicator 24: Noise

Proportion of people making noise complaints

This indicator comprises information about noise complaints and exposure to transport noise.  It also features in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for England. There are a number of direct and indirect links between exposure to noise and health outcomes such as stress, heart attacks, and other health and well-being issues.  Complaints about noise are the largest single cause of complaint to most local authorities, and there is evidence that exposure to noise is a key determinant of health and well-being.

Figure 24.1: Noise complaints per 1,000 population

England

Figure 24.1: Noise complaints per 1,000 population

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  • In 2011–12 there was an average of 7.5 complaints about noise per 1,000 people in England.

  • Between 2006–07 and 2011–12 there have been small fluctuations in the year-on-year number of complaints per 1,000 population.

  • There is considerable regional variation.  Figure 24.2 shows that in 2011–12, the City of London had the highest proportion of complaints with 116 per 1000 population, while the area with the fewest complaints per 1000 population was the Isles of Scilly (1.4).

Figure 24.2 Number of complaints per 1,000 people by county, 2011–12 (1)

England (Average = 7.5)

In 2011–12, the City of London had the highest proportion of complaints with 116 per 1000 population, while the area with the fewest complaints was the Isles of Scilly.
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. Data are supplied by the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH).

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Indicator 25: Fuel poverty

Number of households living in fuel poverty under the low income high cost (LIHC) definition

Fuel poverty is a serious problem from three main perspectives. The first is poverty, because high energy costs can exacerbate difficulties faced by those on low incomes. The second is health and well-being, because it is responsible for a range of issues such as social exclusion, cardiovascular problems and excess winter deaths. The third is carbon, because the energy inefficiency of the homes of those living in fuel poverty is a concern in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

Figure 25.1: Total number of households living in fuel poverty under the low income high cost definition (1)

England

Figure 25.1: Total number of households living in fuel poverty under the low income high cost definition (1)

Notes:

  1. Under the Low Income High Costs definition, a household is considered to be fuel poor if they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) or were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

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Under this definition, increasing household income helps to reduce the proportion of households, and reducing income has the opposite effect, that is more households enter into fuel poverty.  Decreasing fuel prices and/or improvements made to the energy efficiency of the home can also reduce fuel poverty, while rising prices will have the opposite effect.

  • In 2012 there were 2.3 million fuel poor households in England, 107,000 fewer than in 2011 and 158,000 fewer than in 2003.

  • There was a sharp decrease in the proportion of fuel poor households in between 2005 and 2006 (166,000 households). Since 2010, the number of fuel poor households decreased year-on-year.




 



 

Supplementary Environment (Indicators 26 to 35)

Indicator 26: UK carbon dioxide emissions by sector

Carbon dioxide emissions by sector

The key sectors of the UK economy will produce differing amounts of emissions.  To limit our impact on the world’s climate, it is important that all sectors emit less carbon dioxide over time.

Figure 26.1: Annual emissions per sector measured in million tonnes of carbon dioxide (1)

United Kingdom (2)

Figure 26.1:  Annual emissions per sector measured in million tonnes of carbon dioxide (1)
Source: Energy and Climate Change

Notes:

  1. Data for 2013 are provisional.
  2. Geography also includes Crown Dependencies.

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  • Overall the trend is similar to that seen in the total emissions indicator, with all of the sectors decreasing their emissions in the last decade.  Emissions overall decreased in 2013 compared to 2012 due to a reduction in emissions from the energy sector, although  there appears to have been a small increase in emissions in several sectors.

  • Transport emissions grew notably between 1970 and 2000.  This is likely to have been a result of private and public transport becoming more accessible to a wider population. From a peak in 2007 transport emissions declined, then remained steady from 2010.  

Indicator 27: Energy from renewable sources

Proportion of energy consumed in the UK from renewable sources

Using renewable resources will make a strong contribution to our energy needs and allow us to be less reliant both on other countries and on non-renewable and less environmentally sound sources of energy.

Figure 27.1: Proportion of gross energy consumption from renewable sources (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 27.1: Proportion of gross energy consumption from renewable sources (1)

Notes:

  1. Figures show overall renewable consumption as a percentage of capped gross final energy consumption using net calorific values (normalised), calculated using the methodology proposed in the 2009 renewable Energy Directive.

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In the UK during 2012 4.1% of final energy consumption was from renewable sources.

  • Between 2005 and 2012 the proportion of final energy consumption from renewable sources has almost tripled, from 1.4% to 4.1%.  This represents a 2.7 percentage point increase. 

Indicator 28: Housing energy efficiency

Average housing energy efficiency rating

More energy efficient dwellings are needed if the UK is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Figure 28.1: Mean Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) (1) rating by tenure (2)

England

Figure 28.1: Mean Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) (1) rating by tenure (2)
Source: Communities and Local Government

Notes:

  1. The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is the UK Government's recommended method system for measuring the energy rating of residential dwellings.
  2. Data for private and social sector 1996 to 2011. Data for new homes 2008 to 2012.

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The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is a way of assessing and comparing the energy and environmental performance of dwellings.

  • Housing in the social sector receives higher ratings than those in the private sector.

  • The average energy efficiency rating of houses in England has improved, with an increase of 14 SAP points in the private sector and 16 points in the social sector between 1996 and 2012.

  • The energy efficiency rating of new homes is higher than other types of housing; in 2012 new homes were rated as 16 SAP points higher than social sector homes and 23 points higher than private sector homes.

 

Indicator 29: Waste disposal and recycling

The types of waste we produce, all forms of waste management, and the transport of waste have impacts on the environment.  Waste is a potential resource and increased rates of re-use, recycling and energy recovery will result in a lower proportion of waste being disposed of in a way that causes environmental damage.

Household waste

In order to move towards a European recycling society with a high level of resource efficiency, EU targets for re-use and recycling of household waste have been set.  Under the Revised Waste Framework Directive, the EU has set a target for 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2020.

Figure 29.1: Household waste recycling rate

England

Figure 29.1: Household waste recycling rate
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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  • Between 2000/01 and 2012/13 the household waste recycling rate increased from 11% to 43%.

  • The amount of waste recycled, composted or reused in 2012/13 was 9.8 million tonnes out of a total of 22.6 million tonnes collected from households, a small decrease compared to 2011/12.

  • The increase in the rate of waste recycling in 2012/13 was the smallest for 12 years, with the rate of increase slowing since its peak around 2004/05.

Construction and demolition waste

The EU has identified construction and demolition waste as a priority waste stream.  Many of its components have a high resource value and there is high potential for recycling.  This type of waste is also one of the heaviest and most voluminous waste streams generated in the EU.  Under the Revised Waste Framework Directive, the EU has set a target for 70% of Construction and Demolition waste to be recovered from landfill by 2020.

Figure 29.2: Construction and demolition waste recovery rate

England

Figure 29.2: Construction and demolition waste recovery rate

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  • The UK construction and demolition recovery rate has been close to 90% for all four years that the indicator has been measured.  

  • Construction and demolition waste is disposed of directly at landfill sites, via transfer and treatment facilities, or recycled as aggregate.

 

Indicator 30: Land use

Land use by type (context only)

Sustainable use of land is important in delivering development, as well as protecting the natural and historic environment.

Figure 30.1: Land use by type

England

Figure 30.1: Land use by type
Source: Communities and Local Government

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  • An increase in land used for permanent grassland and rough grazing between 2000 and 2006 coincided with a decrease in croppable area and land used for other purposes

  • In 2012, over 78% of land in England was used for commercial agricultural purposes, or forestry and woodland.

The ‘other uses’ category in presented in Figure 30.1 only gives a very broad indication of what land is used for, and includes built-up areas as well as non-commercial agricultural area and other non-agricultural uses.  As a result, more detailed figures on land cover have been presented in Figure 30.2, based on detailed satellite images taken between 2005 and 2008.

The data used in this chart is not directly comparable to the data in Figure 30.1. It uses a different data source and data collection methodology, and shows the breakdown for the UK rather than England only.

Figure 30.2: Detailed land use by type from the Land Cover Map, 2007 (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 30.2: Detailed land use by type from the Land Cover Map, 2007 (1)

Notes:

  1. Land cover was derived from more than 70 satellite images collected between 2005 and 2008. The satellite images contain spectral information which corresponds to different ground surfaces and vegatation types in both summer and winter. An automated classification process was used to assign a land cover type based on existing Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Broad Habitats to approximately 10 million land parcels.

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  • According to the Land Cover Map, 6% of the UK is covered by urban land, the same as both coniferous and broadleaved woodland.

 

This indicator is not assessed because the impacts of changes in land use vary depending on local circumstance. Therefore at a national level there is no clear favourable direction for the assessment to measure progress against.  However, the indicator is included to provide some general context to patterns of development which can be considered alongside other indicators.

Indicator 31: Origins of food consumed in the UK

Proportion of food consumed in the United Kingdom from each region

Maintaining a range of supply sources means that any risk to our total food supply is spread. This lowers the impacts of any unforeseen disruptions involving any particular trading partner or from within our domestic agriculture sector.  However, it is important that we do not become too reliant on food from overseas as we can ensure higher standards while having a lower carbon footprint by producing food domestically.

Figure 31.1: Proportion of food consumed in the UK by region or origin (1)

United Kingdom

Figure 31.1: Proportion of food consumed in the UK by region or origin (1)
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. Based on farm gate value of raw food.

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Over the last 25 years there has been a noticeable increase in food consumed from the EU and Europe, as opposed to domestically-produced food.  However, over 50% of food consumed in the UK is also produced here.

  • The proportion of food consumed from Asia, Australasia and Africa has remained steady since 1998, but consumption of food from North and South America has increased from 5% in 1988 to 7% in 2013. 

 

This indicator is not assessed as there is no clear favourable direction for the assessment to measure progress against.  Food security depends on access to the world market and there are risks both in being fully self-sufficient and fully reliant on other countries. 

Indicator 32: Water quality

Biological quality of rivers

The indicator shows the biological quality of rivers using data from the Water Framework Directive assessment of water body status.  Rivers are assessed as being in ‘high’, ‘good’, ‘moderate’, ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ status through a moving 3-year monitoring programme.

Figure 32.1: The biological quality of rivers

England

Figure 32.1: The biological quality of rivers

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  • The proportion of rivers at good or high biological quality has shown no significant change between 2009 and 2012.

  • Between 2009 and 2012 the number of assessments classed as high fell from 304 to 253, and the number of assessments classed as bad fell from 189 to 139. This suggests that there has been a mix of deteriorations and improvements in the biological quality of the water environment.

  • Changes in water quality can happen for a number of reasons; while some of the differences between years will be due to measurement issues and monitoring locations, factors such as the climate and extreme weather events can also have an impact.

 Chemical status of rivers

This indicator shows the chemical status of rivers using data from the Water Framework Directive assessment of water body status.  Chemical status is assessed from compliance with environmental standards for chemicals that are priority substances and/or priority hazardous substances.  A list of priority substances can be found in the Chemical Standards database on the Environment Agency’s website.  Chemical status is marked as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ and is determined by the worst scoring chemical, so if one chemical fails the river is given a failing status.

Figure 32.2: The chemical status of rivers

England

Figure 32.2: The chemical status of rivers

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  • The number of assessed rivers that have passed the chemical status criteria has increased from 411 in 2009 to 431 in 2012. This suggests that less chemical pollution is being detected in rivers.

  • Rivers are generally monitored for priority substances where there are known discharges of these pollutants.  Rivers without discharges of priority substances are reported as being at good chemical status.

 

Indicator 33: Sustainable fisheries

Percentage of fish stocks harvested sustainably and at full reproductive capacity

Fish are an integral component of marine biodiversity.  They are an important element of the food chain for seabirds, seals, whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and are a very important source of food for people. Sustainable fisheries will help to ensure our marine ecosystems remain diverse and resilient, and provide a long-term and viable fishing industry.

Figure 33.1: Fish stocks harvested sustainably and at full reproductive capacity

United Kingdom

Figure 33.1: Fish stocks harvested sustainably and at full reproductive capacity

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  • Sustainable fisheries will help to ensure our marine ecosystems remain diverse and resilient, and provide a long-term and viable fishing industry.

  • In 2011, 47% of the 15 assessed fish stocks around the UK were at full reproductive capacity and were being harvested sustainably.  Since 2000, between 27% and 47% of the fish stocks around the UK have been at full reproductive capacity and being harvested sustainably, compared to between 7% and 29% in the years from 1990 to 1999.

  • The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea advice in 2012 showed that most of the UK indicator stocks considered to be harvested sustainably and at full reproductive capacity in 2011 were also being fished at or below the rate, providing long-term maximum sustainable yield. 

Indicator 34: Priority species and habitats

This indicator shows progress with maintaining and/or restoring favourable conservation status for species and habitat types that the UK has European level conservation responsibilities for. This assessment occurs every six years. Trends in unfavourable conservation status allow identification of whether progress is being made, as it will take many years for some species to reach favourable conservation status.

Species

Figure 34.1: Percentage of UK species of European importance in improving or declining conservation status (1,2)

England

Figure 34.1: Percentage of UK species of European importance in improving or declining conservation status (1,2)
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. The number of species assessed was 80 in 2007 and 83 in 2013.
  2. Based on UK species listed in annexes II, IV and V of the Habitats Directive, excluding vagrants, that are found in England.

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  • In 2007 28% of species listed on Annexes II, IV or V of the Habitats Directive were in favourable conservation status, increasing to 41% in 2013.

  • The conservation status of 19% of species was improving in 2007. In 2013, 11% were improving. 

  • The conservation status of 14% of the species was declining in 2007. In 2013, 16% were declining.

 

Habitats

Figure 34.2: Percentage of UK habitats of European importance in improving or declining conservation status (1)

England

Figure 34.2: Percentage of UK habitats of European importance in improving or declining conservation status (1)
Source: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Notes:

  1. Based on 70 UK habitats listed on Annex I of the Habitats Directive that are found in England.

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  • In 2007, 6% of habitats listed on Annex I of the Habitats Directive occurring in England were in favourable conservation status, declining to 3% in 2013.

  • The conservation status of 49% of habitats was improving in 2007. In 2013, 33% were improving.

  • The conservation status of 30% of the habitats was declining in 2007. In 2013, 24% were declining.

 Indicator 35: UK biodiversity impacts overseas

This indicator is under development in line with the UK Biodiversity Indicator publication and is aimed at assessing the impacts of UK production on global biodiversity.

 

Background notes

  1. Details of those granted pre-release access 

    Pre-release access list - Sustainable Development Indicators, July 2014

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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