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SWO Latest News
In this section you'll find links to news about data, research and evidence relating to policy matters.
SWO Communications
SWO sends out a weekly e-bulletin containing all important announcements and recent publications. Subscribe to the 'Friday Update' e-bulletin here.
We also produce a quarterly newsletter - download the December 2012 edition here.
Finally, see @swobservatory for regular tweets from SWO.
Information for Journalists
SWO issues press releases relating to our publications and events. We can also sometimes respond to queries relating to research and statistics for South West England. To be added to the SWO media database please email .
  • West of England Quarterly Reports & Survey
    Through the West of England LEP website you'll now find the Executive Summary to the West of England LEP Quarterly Economic Bulletin and the Barriers to Growth Survey Report. These documents are available to download from the LEP website at http://www.westofenglandlep.co.uk/about-us/economic-intelligence/reports-and-surveys 02/05/2013
  • Business West's Quarterly Economic Survey
    Access the latest Quarterly Economic Survey results for the South West, compiled by Business West. The Business West quarterly survey provides a regular assessment on the economic situation of local business and is a valuable source of intelligence for businesses, politicians and policy makers. On a national level, results from the survey feed into the British Chambers quarterly survey, recognised as the largest and most representative independent business survey. There were 537 responses to this quarter's survey - an increase of over 200 from the last survey. 24/04/2013
  • PMI Report highlights decline in business activity for second successive month
    Business activity in the South West private sector declined for the second successive month in March. However, the rate of reduction was fractional. New business also fell for the second month in a row, and at a modest pace. Backlogs of work declined solidly, while staff numbers fell only marginally. Output charges were raised at the strongest rate in 18 months. Smoking alternative have increased turnover with its Kiosk in the town centre. For more info download the latest Markit / Lloyds TSB PMI Report for the South West. 15/04/2013
  • Latest Culture Module Finding the Dots
    Read the Culture Module's latest April edition of Finding the Dots, with lots on cultural research and policy developments. Please email any feedback or questions to 14/04/2013
  • April Update - South West Business Tracker
    The South West Business Tracker has just been published providing 'real-time' information about the performance of some of the most significant publicly traded businesses in the region. The April 2013 update to the Business Tracker highlights the continued strong performance of the stock market over the first few months of the year reflected in SW Business Tracker companies. The consolidated price index continued to rise strongly during January and February, with a small downward adjustment taking place in March as the overall market paused for breath and digested contrasting events such as the Cypriot crisis and recovering US consumer expenditure. The period saw several of our companies announce strong trading figures. Hargreaves Lansdown, Supergroup and Unite all reported a healthy set of results. In contrast, Imperial Tobacco, Rotork and Kingfisher issued more cautious trading updates - all citing different reasons for weakness. This includes foreign exchange movements, inclement weather and - in the case of Imperial Tobacco - the black market for tobacco products. For more on the performance of individual companies click on the link below. 03/04/2013
  • Economic Survey highlights first quarter progress thanks to service sector
    The Q1 2013 British Chambers of Commerce's Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) shows that the economy has made progress, but there are still some mountains to climb before it is fully back on track. The new survey, made up of responses from more than 7,000 businesses, shows that most key balances in both the manufacturing and service sectors strengthened in the first quarter of 2013. Export balances in services are particularly strong, with deliveries and orders near the all time high in 1994. Business confidence and investment are also up, and cashflow, although still relatively weak, is now positive for both manufacturing and service sector businesses. 02/04/2013
  • Total and youth unemployment increases in the last month, but overall decline over the past year
    Please note that these figures, sourced from NOMISweb, are not seasonally adjusted, and so may differ from those published elsewhere. Last week's claimant count release highlights that the total number of working age people (16-64) claiming Job Seeker's Allowance in the South West increased from 88,817 to 90,670 between January and February 2013, (+1,853, or 2.0%). It also shows, however, how the total number of claimants in the South West is lower than this time last year -having fallen by 8,269 or 9.1%, Between February 2012 and February 2013, the number of claimants fell by 8,269 (-9.1%). Over the same period in England, the number of claimants also dropped by 5.1% over the same period. The number of 16-24 year olds claiming JSA increased from 24,685 to 25,830 between January and February 2013 – (+1,145 or 4.4%). Overall, over the past year, this number has however fallen by 5,230, (-21.1%). For all LEPs over the past year, claimant count has gone down– . However, all except Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, have seen an increase in claimant count figures over the past month. For Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, there were a total of 10,484 claimants in February 2013, a decrease of 143 from January 2013 (-1.4%) and a decrease of 632 from February 2012 (-6.0%). For the Dorset LEP, there were a total of 10,237 claimants in February 2013, an increase of 390 from January 2013 (+3.8%) but a decrease of 727 from February 2012 (-7.1%). For the Gloucestershire LEP, there were 10,517 claimants in February 2013, an increase of 205 from January 2013 (+1.9%), but a decrease of 565 from February 2012 (-5.4%). For the Heart of the South West LEP, there were 27,302 claimants in February 2013, an increase of 642 from January 2013 (+2.4%) and a decrease of 3,368 from February 2012 (-12.3%). For Swindon and Wiltshire LEP, there were 10,436 claimants in February 2013, an increase of 485 from January 2013 (+4.6%) and a decrease of 1,315 from February 2012 (-12.6%). For the West of England LEP, there were 21,694 claimants in February 2013, an increase of 274 from January 2013 (+1.3%) and a decrease of 1,662 from February 2012 (-7.7%). 28/03/2013
  • Housing 1 Housing, Planning and the Economy: Planning Minister Nick Boles and Bristol Mayor to speak at SWO eventThe impacts of house-building and planning on economic growth will come under the spotlight today [Tuesday 26 February] as politicians, including Planning Minister Nick Boles MP and Bristol Mayor George Ferguson, along with other expert speakers, debate the topic at a conference at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
  • Rebalancing the economy an 'uphill battle' across South West, but training and new skills key to jobs growth (02.11.2011)Analysis published today by SWO points towards an 'uphill battle' to rebalance the local economy and only 'modest prospects' that jobs for the region's unemployed will come from the private sector. But for a part of the country that has been heavily dependent on the public sector for employment, the report suggests that skills and re-training are critical to ensure local people can take advantage of future jobs.
  • Local Economy Resilient to Recession but risks ahead warns report (29.03.2011)Whilst the South West economy has weathered recession relatively well, its future growth will be constrained by a combination of public-private sector rebalancing, reduced household spending and fragile business confidence. That's the message from the South West Observatory's recent update to its State of the South West report in the week following the Chancellor's Budget.
  • Report Highlights Drop in Smoking and Alcohol Consumption in the South West, but inequalities persist (17.03.2011)The 2011, State of the South West report, published this week, highlights data showing a drop in rates of smoking and alcohol consumption. The report, produced by SWO includes figures from the latest General Lifestyle Survey (2009) showing that there has been a 3% drop in adults smoking in the area, with a massive 5% drop in smoking among women. The South West now has an overall smoking rate of 18% which compares favourably to the national rate of 21%. Smoking in women fell to 17% from 22% in 2008, well be
  • Report Shines Spotlight on State of the South West (16.03.2011)People living in the South West live longer and enjoy a better quality life than most of the rest of the UK. These are key findings from the wealth of information presented in the latest version of the 'State of the South West'. This on-line report, launched today by the South West Observatory provides a detailed picture of people, jobs and quality of life across the region. At a time when the effects of recession, efforts to rebalance the economy and radical reform of public services will impact on indiv