Related people: Scott Orford

This week, WISERD, the Institute of Welsh Affairs and the Carnegie UK Trust have launched an update to Understanding Welsh Places.

Understanding Welsh Places is a bilingual website that presents information on the economy, demographic make-up and local services of more than 300 places in Wales in a quick and easy format. The site presents information on every place in Wales with more than 1,000 residents and a comparative analysis of every place with more than 2,000 residents.

Currently, a lot of statistics collected about Wales are only available at a local authority level and, too often, town communities are overlooked by public policy, because of the difficulty in accessing data at that level. The Understanding Welsh Places website focuses in on the community level, providing clear and comparative statistics about places across key policy areas. It aims to bridge the ‘data gap’ around towns and that this will, in turn, inform and influence the development of policies which will help the areas in which so many of us live.

Professor Scott Orford said: “The Understanding Welsh Places website has been built by the WISERD data team in collaboration with the IWA and the Carnegie UK Trust. The website complements the WISERD DataPortal by providing a platform to access and compare headline statistics about communities and places in Wales. The WISERD DataPortal then allows researchers to go further if they wish, providing tools to search and discover, download, and map more detailed data about Wales at a variety of spatial scales”.

This December 2020 update includes: 

  • The rollout of over 70 new place descriptions so that the story of each place is clearly summarised as much as possible by people living and working there
  • New variables for each place including data on access to services, access to green space, broadband availability, numbers of public toilets, numbers of generative businesses and mental health statistics, all of which will be crucial to how Wales builds its future after COVID19.
  • The addition of new Population Flow maps showing migrations and daily trips within Wales and across the border to England

Understanding Welsh Places already allows people to explore and compare statistics on different towns, including information on:

  • Population, age distribution, ethnicity and national identity
  • The number of primary and secondary school places per person
  • The industry of employment, commuting distances and qualifications 
  • The number of hospitals, GPs and dentists per person

Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government said: “Welsh Government is committed to empowering town centres and communities. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to get to know their community and explore where they live in a way they might not have done before.

“Our Transforming Towns agenda puts Welsh towns at the heart of everything we do, creating opportunities and providing a sense of place. This will not only ensure our towns survive but thrive by better understanding who makes up their communities and what services they require.

This week we will start our series of SMART Town masterclasses to look at how town centres can use data to help them adapt. The UWP website is a perfect starting place for people to access data and start to understand their towns in greater detail and I encourage everyone to visit the website”.

Auriol Miller, Director of the IWA, said: "Over the last year, we’ve worked with people in communities across Wales to update it with new data that highlights the assets of each place, so that people can be supported to make positive changes where they live and work based on the evidence around them.  This is crucial as the impact of Covid-19 is so different in all our communities”.

Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at Carnegie UK Trust said: “We are delighted to be supporting communities in Wales to plan for their futures using this new data. Throughout the pandemic we have seen local people coming together to provide mutual support. We hope this tool helps them take the next step in thinking about how they can work together to improve the social, environmental and economic fabric of their neighbourhoods”.


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