1. Main points

House prices

Comparing house price statistics for small areas data (HPSSA) between 112 towns and cities in England and Wales showed the following.

In the south of England, 29 out of 45 towns and cities had a median house price greater than £200,000 in the year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015 compared with only 3 out of 64 towns and cities in the north and midlands.

From year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2010 to year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015, median house prices increased by over 20% in 26 towns and cities, all located in the south of England. Cambridge had the highest increase at 46.9%.

Sales of flats in the towns and cities rose from 18.3% in year ending Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 1995 to 30.5% in year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015 as a proportion of all residential property sales. The biggest percentage point increases in flat sales over this period occurred in Manchester and Salford.

Deprivation

We have compared data across 109 English towns and cities by examining how each local area (Lower Super Output Area or LSOA) within them ranks in the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for England 2015.

Towns and cities had a higher proportion of the most deprived LSOAs than the rest of England across all 7 domains of the IMD, showing all types of deprivation were more prevalent in towns and cities.

The 28 towns and cities with the largest percentage of deprived areas were in the north or midlands of England.Oldham and West Bromwich both had over 60% of their local areas ranked in the most deprived 20% of areas in England.

The towns and cities with the largest percentage of least deprived areas of England were Guildford, Woking and St Albans which each had over 50% of their LSOAs ranked in the least deprived 20% of areas in England.

Findings from the 2011 Census

Comparing Census data from 2011 across 112 towns and cities in England and Wales with the rest of England and Wales shows the following.

A lower proportion of households owned their home across the 112 towns and cities (55.4%) compared with the rest of England and Wales (70.6%). Sutton Coldfield had the highest proportion of home ownership (81.0%) and Salford the lowest (33.6%).

Oxford had the largest share of full-time students in the usual resident population at 26.7% followed by Cambridge (24.8%). Bracknell had the smallest full-time student population share at 5.6%.

Overall there was a net inflow of commuters into towns and cities, with the workday population exceeding the working resident population by 1,403,772 or 11.5% of the number of working residents. Cambridge had the greatest level of net in-commuting with the workplace population 52.1% bigger than the resident working population and Sutton Coldfield had the greatest net outflow of commuters.

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2. Introduction

This article uses a new statistical geography created to provide comparable definitions of the major towns and cities in England and Wales. This definition has been developed specifically for the production and analysis of statistics. The aim is to provide a precise definition, with a focus on the “core” built up area of a town or city rather than its surrounding area. All towns and cities in England and Wales with a resident or workday population size above 75,000 (as measured in the 2011 Census) are included1. It should be noted that in this geography, the boundaries do not follow administrative areas, but are instead defined to cover the built-up area of each town or city.

This new geography will allow existing datasets to be produced for these areas and enable improved analysis. The fact that a consistent method of defining the towns and cities has been used for all areas of England and Wales makes the geography particularly useful for benchmarking across the 112 towns and cities included. It is recognised that the question of what constitutes a major town or city is difficult and that there may be many different, but equally valid, answers. Additionally, different definitions may be more or less suitable depending on the analysis question being examined. However, the hope is that this new geography may prove a useful addition for analysts wishing to undertake comparable analysis of the major towns and cities.

The new geography used in this article includes 112 major towns and cities, which are displayed on this map. More detailed information on this new statistical geography can be found in the Major Towns and Cities User Guidance and the geographic boundaries and lookups are available to download from the ONS geography portal. A dataset is included with this release which provides all the main data on the 112 towns and cities highlighted in this report by topic.

Note that to help describe the trends in this article, we have often referred to either the south of England or the north and midlands of England. In these cases, the south of England is describing the regions of London, South East, East of England and South West; the north of England refers to the regions of North East, North West and Yorkshire and The Humber, while the midlands is referring to the regions of West midlands and East midlands. In some cases when London is excluded the results change slightly, in such cases this has been highlighted in the article.

Notes for Introduction

  1. Note that not all cities with official city status are included in this definition, as the population size of some cities falls below the 75,000 usual resident or workday population threshold used.
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3. Housing

Median house price

House prices in towns and cities can be compared using house price statistics for small areas (HPSSAs). These statistics are based on the price paid for residential properties actually sold in a particular period using publicly available data from the Land Registry. These house price statistics are calculated for 12 month periods, and are updated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on a quarterly basis. This article uses house price data from the year ending Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 1995 to the year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015.

The house prices are not mix adjusted, which means variations in the composition of dwelling types sold can influence the average house price in an area. However, these house price statistics do provide an accurate representation of the actual prices paid for residential properties sold in any area, and for users interested in investigating below the all property average price, data is also provided by type of property allowing a more in-depth comparison between the towns and cities. In terms of the number of house sales underlying the data, there were at least 500 house sales in the year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015 in each of the 112 towns and cities with the median town or city having around 1,800 sales.

Figure 1 shows median house prices in towns and cities in England and Wales. Each bar represents one town or city and the English towns and cities have been sorted by region. It is clear that median house prices in towns and cities in the south of England are generally higher than in towns and cities in Wales or the north or midlands of England. In the south of England, 29 out of 45 towns and cities had a median house price greater than £200,000 in 2015, compared with only 3 out of 64 towns and cities in the north: Harrogate (£215,000), Solihull (£230,000) and Sutton Coldfield (£237,500).

There was greater variation in median house prices between towns and cities in the south of England, with a range of £242,000 between the highest and lowest (St Albans and Peterborough), compared with a range of £159,500 between northern towns and cities’ highest and lowest (Sutton Coldfield and Burnley).

Tables 1 and 2 give the 10 towns and cities with the highest and lowest median house price for all property types along with the median price broken down by property type. St Albans had the highest median house price at £390,000, followed by London at £380,000. In addition to St Albans and London, median property prices in both Cambridge and Guildford were above £350,000 while median prices for detached houses were greater than £500,000 in 9 of the cities listed in Table 1.

By contrast, Table 2 shows that properties in the towns and cities with the lowest median house prices were typically around £100,000. Median prices for detached houses were generally below £200,000 with median prices for semi detached houses typically between £100,000 and £120,000.

Change in median house price

Median house prices in towns and cities in the south of England have generally risen by more than in towns and cities in Wales and English regions in the north and Midlands.

From 2010 to 2015, there were no towns and cities in Wales or the north or Midlands regions of England for which the median house price increased by more than 20%, with the largest increase being 18.4% in South Shields. For the majority of the towns and cities, median house prices increased by 10% or less and prices decreased in Blackpool, Southport, Bradford and Swansea and remained the same in Carlisle, Darlington, Halifax and Walsall. This compares with towns and cities in the south where 26 out of 45 towns and cities had median house price growth of over 20% over this period. The smallest increase in median house price in the south of England was 8.6% in Weston-Super-Mare. Cambridge has seen the largest increase in median house price at 46.9%, followed by London at 38.2%.

Figure 3 shows how the percentage changes in Figure 2 equate to changes in the level of house prices, showing those with the highest and lowest change in actual price from Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2010 to Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015. In this period, Cambridge and London both saw median house prices increase by over £100,000. By contrast, median house prices in Swansea and Southport both declined by £5,000 over the same period.

Figure 4 shows the increase in median house prices in towns and cities over a longer 20 year period from year ending Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 1995 to year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015. The majority of towns and cities in the north and Midlands of England saw a median price increase of between 150% and 250% over this period. By contrast, for towns and cities in southern English regions, median house prices typically increased by 250% to 350%.

Brighton and Hove has experienced the largest percentage increase in house prices over the 20 year period, with prices nearly 5 times more expensive in 2015 than in 1995, having increased by 490% (from £50,000 to £295,000).

As well as having the lowest median property price, Burnley had the smallest percentage increase in median property price between 1995 and 2015, increasing by 148% (from £31,500 to £78,000).

Figure 5 shows the towns and cities with the largest and smallest changes in median house prices in absolute terms over the 20 year period. The highest increase was in St Albans where the median house prices increased by £309,500. The lowest increase was in Burnley, where the median house price increased by £46,500.

Median property prices are influenced by the composition of property types sold and this can vary substantially between towns and cities. Similarly, some of the variation in changes in median house prices between towns and cities over the last 20 years can be explained by differences in the number of sales of different property types over time. Figure 6 shows the proportions of total property sales across the combined 112 towns and cities by property type from year ending Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 1995 to year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015.

Terraced houses made up the greatest proportion of all residential property sales in towns and cities throughout 1995 to 2015. However, the proportion of sales of terraced houses, alongside semi detached houses, has been on a gradual downward trend. From early 2000, the proportion of flats sold overtook semi detached houses, having risen from 18.3% in 1995 to a peak of 32.1% in 2008. In 2015, the proportion of sales of flats (30.5%) almost equalled the proportion of terraced housing sold (32.0%). Sales of detached housing have been reasonably constant as a proportion of total sales over the last 20 years and remain the lowest proportion of property sales in towns and cities.

When London is excluded, property sales followed similar trends, but the proportion totals were different. In the 111 towns and cities excluding London, the proportion of flats sold increased from 12.4% of all property sales in towns and cities in 1995 to 20.3% in the year ending Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2015.

In line with the steady increase in the proportion of flats sold overall in towns and cities, all but 5 towns and cities saw increases in the share of flats sold between 1995 and 2015. Manchester saw the largest percentage point increase, with flats sold rising from 10.1% in 1995 to 35.6% of all property sales in 2015, followed by Salford, up from 27.4% to 49.5%.

In 2015, Brighton and Hove was the city with the highest proportion of flats sold at 57.1%, followed by London at 55.2% and Bournemouth at 52.4%. In 2015, Oldham had the smallest proportion of flats sold out of all towns and cities at 1.5% of properties. Again there is a clear division between towns and cities in northern English regions and the south of England as only Chatham (9.6%) and Peterborough (8.8%) in the south had less than 10% of property sales as flats, compared with 36 towns and cities in the north and midlands.

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4. Index of Multiple Deprivation

Distribution of deprivation

Levels of deprivation in 109 English towns and cities can be compared using the English Indices of Deprivation 2015 (IMD 2015)1.The IMD is an overall measure of multiple deprivation experienced by people living in an area and was calculated for every Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) in England (LSOAs are areas averaging a population of around 1,500 or 650 households). Every LSOA in England has then been ranked according to its level of deprivation relative to that of other areas. For each town and city, the share of LSOAs falling in each decile of the IMD, from the most deprived 10% to the least deprived 10%, can be measured.

Figure 8 shows that overall the 109 towns and cities had a higher proportion of LSOAs in the more deprived deciles compared with the rest of England. Of these, 15.4% of LSOAS in towns and cities were in the most deprived decile nationally compared with only 5.1% of LSOAs in the rest of England. By contrast, towns and cities had only 6.0% of LSOAs in the least deprived decile nationally whereas the rest of England had 13.6%.

Figure 9 shows that towns and cities in northern England generally had a greater share of LSOAs in the most deprived 20% nationally. Overall 49 towns and cities had over 30% of LSOAs in the most deprived 20%, 44 of these in the north or midlands and 5 in the south. Towns and cities with less than 30% of LSOAs in the most deprived 20% were more evenly split, with 20 in the north and midlands and 40 in the south.

Peterborough had the highest proportion of most deprived LSOAs in the south at 40.8%, followed by Hastings (39.6%) and Basildon (38.8%). However, there were 28 towns and cities in the north or midlands with higher proportions of deprived LSOAs than Peterborough. Harrogate had the lowest proportion of most deprived LSOAs in the north of England at 2.0% , followed by Sutton Coldfield and Solihull (both 2.9%)

Table 4 gives the 10 towns and cities with the highest proportion of LSOAs in the most deprived 20%. Oldham had the highest proportion of most deprived LSOAs at 65.2% (43 out of its 66 LSOAs), followed by West Bromwich. There were 4 towns and cities which had no LSOAs within the most deprived 20%, namely Basingstoke, Bracknell, High Wycombe and St Albans.

Table 5 shows the towns and cities with the greatest proportion of LSOAs in the least deprived 20%. Guildford had the highest proportion of LSOAs in the least deprived 20% at 61.4% (27 out of its 44 LSOAs), followed by Woking and St Albans. West Bromwich, Salford, Blackpool and Hastings had no LSOAs in the least deprived 20%, furthermore West Bromwich had no LSOAs in the least deprived 50%.

Indices of deprivation

The IMD combines relative measures of deprivation from 7 different domains: Income Deprivation, Employment Deprivation, Health Deprivation and Disability, Education, Skills and Training Deprivation, Crime, Barriers to Housing and Services, and Living Environment Deprivation . These domains are based on 37 separate indicators and weighted to produce the IMD. Figure 10 shows the overall proportions of most and least deprived LSOAs in towns and cities for each domain.

For each domain if deprivation were uniformly distributed, 10% of the LSOAs in each town or city would be in the most deprived 10% nationally, and 10% would be in the least deprived nationally. However, the data show that across all domains, towns and cities had a proportion of most deprived LSOAs above 10% showing all types of deprivation were more prevalent in towns and cities than the rest of England. Crime, based on recorded crime rates for violence, burglary, theft and criminal damage, had the highest proportion of most deprived LSOAs in towns and cities at 16.9% and the lowest proportion of least deprived LSOAs at 3.2%, therefore was the type of deprivation most concentrated in towns and cities.

Education, Skills and Training Deprivation measures the lack of attainment and skills in both the adult and child population and is the only domain for which the proportion of LSOAs in the least deprived 10% was above 10%. Towns and cities therefore had an equal share of the least deprived LSOAs with the rest of England for education, although still contained a higher share of the most deprived LSOAs. For all other domains the least deprived LSOAs were more prevalent in areas outside of towns and cities.

Note that if London is excluded the results change slightly. The main change is in housing where the 108 towns and cities excluding London have only 5.2% of LSOAs in the most deprived 10% of LSOAs and 10.0% in the least deprived 10%.

Many of the most deprived towns and cities in 2015 were amongst the most deprived across a number of domains. The 10 towns and cities ranked as most deprived in the IMD overall also ranked highly in the most deprived towns and cities for income, employment and education. This is partly expected as these domains are given the largest weights in the IMD and it is highly likely those experiencing employment deprivation also experience income deprivation.

However, the ten most deprived towns and cities overall generally had much lower rankings for barriers to housing and services and living environment deprivation. Oldham ranked at number one on the IMD but ranked 101 out of 109 towns and cities in England on the barriers to housing and services domain. Similarly some of the least deprived towns and cities in the IMD ranked highly for this domain. The barriers to housing and services domain is measured against geographical barriers relating to distance to essential services and wider barriers based on indicators of household overcrowding, homelessness and housing affordability. Part of the reason for some towns and cities ranking highly on the IMD but lowly on the barriers to housing and services domain could therefore be attributed to lower house prices in these areas making housing more affordable.

Table 7 shows Oldham was the most deprived in the IMD overall in 2015 and featured in the top 5 most deprived towns and cities across 3 out of the 7 domains. West Bromwich, second in the IMD, also featured in the top 5 in 3 domains as the most deprived town for both income and employment and the second most deprived for education. Some towns and cities which ranked relatively lowly for deprivation on the IMD ranked very highly for deprivation in a particular domain. Portsmouth, for example, ranked 70 out of 109 towns and cities in the IMD but is ranked number 1 for the highest level of deprivation of the living environment.

The greatest range in deprivation levels between towns and cities was for health deprivation and disability. The highest concentration of most deprived LSOAs in towns and cities was for health deprivation in Blackpool where 81.4% of LSOAs were in the most deprived 20%. This contrasts with St Albans where 75.5% of LSOAs were in the least deprived 20%. There were 39 towns and cities with no LSOAs in the least deprived 20% for health deprivation whilst 7 towns and cities had no LSOAs in the most deprived 20%.

Full details of how each domain is measured can be found in the DCLG technical report accompanying the IMD 2015 publication.

Notes for Index of Multiple Deprivation

  1. Note that a separate IMD is produced in Wales. However, because its rankings are not directly comparable with the English version then this article’s analysis of IMD focuses just on the 109 English towns and cities. A Welsh version is available.
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5. Census analysis

The geography in this report is being used for the first time and as such there has therefore been no prior analysis of the 112 towns and cities using 2011 Census data. Doing so allows us to examine very detailed data across a number of topics of interest such as qualifications, housing and commuting to provide a useful underlying snapshot of the characteristics of each of the towns and cities. Although there will have been some changes since 2011, the main differences between towns and cities shown in this section are unlikely to have changed significantly since this time. Future articles using the geography will seek to examine other datasets with time series data to assess where changes may have occurred. For the moment, this census data gives a good overview of the types and extent of the differences across the 112 towns and cities that are now available for analysis via the new statistical geography.

Age

Table 8 shows in 2011, towns and cities had a higher proportion of usual residents aged 16 to 64 and a lower proportion aged 65 and over and 85 and over compared with the rest of England and Wales. While those aged 65 and over made up 13.5% of the population of the 112 towns and cities they made up 19.1% of the population of the rest of England and Wales.

Southport had the greatest proportion of residents aged 65 and over at 23.2% of its usual resident population. Southport also had the smallest proportion of residents aged 16 to 64 at 60.0%. Eastbourne had the second largest proportion of residents aged 65 and over and the largest proportion of residents aged 85 and over at 4.2%.

University cities dominated the towns and cities with the largest shares of population aged 16 to 64 in 2011. Cambridge and Oxford were highest with 72.6% and 72.1% respectively, closely followed by Brighton, Manchester and Nottingham. These were all amongst the towns and cities with the lowest proportion of residents aged 65 and over. The lowest share of residents aged 65 and over was in Milton Keynes at 8.8%.

Health

There was variation between towns and cities, both regionally and individually, in the share of residents whose day to day activities were ‘limited a lot’, ‘limited a little’ and ‘not limited’ by a health problem or disability in 2011. Figure 11 shows that towns and cities in Wales and the north and midlands of England tended to have higher proportions of residents ‘limited a lot’ by a health problem or disability. No towns and cities in the North East and only Chester and Warrington in the North West, had less than 6% of residents in this category. In the south of England, Hastings had the highest proportion of residents ‘limited a lot’ by a health problem or disability followed by Plymouth, Weston-Super-Mare and Basildon; these being the only other towns and cities in the south with greater than 6% of residents ‘limited a lot’.

Overall, Birkenhead in the north west had both the highest proportion of residents ‘limited a lot’ at 11% of the population and the lowest proportion of population ‘not limited’ by a health problem or disability at 79.5%.

Housing tenure

A lower proportion of households owned their home in 2011 across the 112 towns and cities (55.4%) compared with the rest of England and Wales (70.6%). A higher proportion of households in the towns and cities were either socially or privately rented.

Sutton Coldfield had the highest proportion of home ownership, with 81.0% of households owning their home closely followed by Solihull (80.1%). This compares with only one-third of households owning their home in Salford, the lowest proportion amongst the towns and cities.

Table 12 shows the towns and cities with the highest and lowest proportions of households privately renting. Brighton and Hove had the highest share at 32.5%, followed by Bournemouth at 29.6%.

As well as having the lowest levels of home ownership and one of the highest shares of private renting, Salford also had the highest proportion of households renting socially at 35.3%. Overall the 4 largest shares of social renting were all in the north or midlands of England. However, the north or midlands were also the location for the 4 towns and cities with the lowest share of social renting: Southport, Sutton Coldfield, Solihull and Harrogate.

Students

In 2011, towns and cities had a larger share of residents who were full-time students, at 11.7% of the population compared with 6.7% of residents in the rest of England and Wales.

Oxford had the largest share of full-time students in its usual resident population at 26.7%, closely followed by Cambridge (24.8%). This compares with the smallest share of full-time student population of 5.6% in Bracknell.

Qualifications

St Albans had the greatest proportion of residents with a qualification of level 4 and above (degree level) in 2011 at 47.2%, closely followed by Cambridge (46.9%). Table 16 shows that, in England and Wales, West Bromwich had the lowest proportion of residents with a level 4 qualification or above at 13.2% followed by Grimsby behind at 14.5%. The lowest share in the south of England was in Basildon at 15.0%.

Industry

Figure 14 shows the proportion of the workday population by industry, comparing towns and cities with the rest of England and Wales. In 2011, the Professional, Finance and Information sectors employed 17.9% of the workday population in towns and cities compared with 12.9% in the rest of England and Wales. However, this difference is almost entirely due to London. When London is excluded the proportion of the workday population employed in the Professional, Finance and Information sector in towns and cities falls to 13.4% leaving only a slight difference between towns and cities and the rest of England and Wales. The Manufacturing sector employed 10.3% of the workday population in the rest of England and Wales compared with 9.2% in towns and cities excluding London (and 7.2% in towns and cities including London).

Table 17 shows the towns and cities with the highest share of workday population employed in selected industries. St Albanshad the highest share of its population working in the Professional, Finance and Information sectors at 27.5% in comparison to 12.9% in the rest of England and Wales. Scunthorpe had the lowest proportion of its workday population working in the Professional, Finance and Information sectors (5.1%) and the largest proportion employed in the Manufacturing sector at 23.8% This compares with London where only 3.1% of the workday population were employed in this sector in 2011.

Commuting

Comparing the number of residents of towns and cities in employment with the workplace population (the number of workers whose employment is actually located in a town or city), gives an indication of commuting flows. For example, if the number of working residents exceeds the workplace population for a particular town or city, there must be a net outflow of commuters from this town or city.

Overall in 2011, there was a net inflow of commuters to towns and cities. The workplace population exceeded the number of working residents by 1,403,772, equivalent to 11.5% of the number of working residents. Of this net inflow, 498,946 were net in-commuters to London.

Looking at towns and cities individually, the majority of towns and cities had net in-commuting, meaning there were more workers employed in the town or city than were resident. There were 33 towns and cities with net out-commuting.

Cambridge had the greatest level of net in-commuting with the workplace population 52.1% bigger than the resident working population. Sutton Coldfield had the greatest level of net out-commuting with the workplace population over 34.2% smaller than the resident working population.

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6 .Background note

  1. 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
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Contact details for this Article

Richard Prothero
Richard.Prothero@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 44 7825