There is a common notion that ‘Redditch is a growing town’ and whilst more houses are going up (and certainly more affordable housing choices will soon be going up under the Conservative-run council) the data is yet to catch up and actually shows some interesting challenges to the assertion that Redditch is growing. Yes, it is growing, but not as fast as people think.

I’m actually worried about it plateauing.

According to ONS mid-year population estimates (2016) the estimated population of Redditch in 2016 was 84,971. This is just 228 higher than the 2015 estimate of 84,743.

Redditch Estimated Population 201684,971
Redditch Estimated Population 201584,743
Redditch Population Change228

This represents a 0.26904% increase, rounded to 0.27%.  Let’s compare this to our nearest neighbour, Bromsgrove.

Bromsgrove Estimated Population 201696,769
Bromsgrove Estimated Population 201595,768
Bromsgrove Population Change1,001

This represents a 1.04523% annual growth, rounded to 1.04% 

There will be towns with higher growth rates and towns with lower growth rates. What’s important is how we handle growth (or shrinkage should that happen).

I am fully expecting the growth rate to increase as more homes are built inside Redditch. Especially as the Conservative-led council that I represent will be building a lot more council homes than the Labour-led council did over their 6 years in control. More on that another time perhaps, let’s keep it clean. Besides, there’s also private development going in that will hopefully boost these numbers.

The Plateau

The chart above shows the population issue we are currently contending with – a plateau.

More recent data

The reason I am using the 2016 figures is because this is the data used in a ‘Needs and Assets Profile’ produced by Worcestershire County Council, which relies on ONS figures.   We can however, fast-forward and look at the 2017 mid-year figures, which show the Redditch population at 85,204 – an increase of just 233 from 2016 to 2017 – five more people than the 2015 to 2016 figures. The plateau continues.

What about the birth rate?

According to the ONS mid-year figures for 2016 the number of births in Redditch was: 1,101.

Redditch Births in 20161,101
Divided by 12 months91.75
Divided by 52 weeks21.17
Divide the weekly figure over 7 days3.02

This seems to indicate that the local demand for births would be around 3 births per day on current figures. It would need to be a lot higher than this to justify full maternity services at the local hospital. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true. You cannot have a full maternity service with just 3 babies being born there on average per day – this being a crude average you could expect some days to be busy but then some days where there might not be a birth at all. 

We need to talk about migration…

The ONS figures turn up something interesting. Perhaps we wouldn’t be seeing the local population plateau if we didn’t see so many people leave Redditch.

Migration Inflow – Internal UK2600
Migration Outflow – Internal UK3181
Net Internal Migration-581
Migration Inflow – International607
Migration Outflow – International233
Net International Migration+374

The above table shows that 581 more people left Redditch for other UK places to live than came to Redditch from elsewhere in the UK.

However, 374 more people came into Redditch from overseas than left Redditch to go to an overseas destination to live.

The difference is -207. There are not enough people coming from overseas to cancel out the number of people departing Redditch for elsewhere in the UK. 

Deaths

When looking at populations you do also have to think about the death rate in an area. For Redditch in 2016, according to the ONS figures we have been dealing with, the number of deaths were 679.

With births at 1,101 and deaths at 670 the difference is a 422 ‘surplus of life’ if I can coin an awkward term. 

In Conclusion

Is Redditch a growing town? Yes. But only just. 

The question we need to be asking is whether or not we want to grow more, and if we do how we go about achieving a stronger rate. I would argue if we want Redditch to avoid becoming known as a sleepy backwater town we need to step things up quite considerably. 

  • House building – this is ongoing and I suspect will lead to an improved rate in the 2018 and 2019 figures when they are released.
  • Business growth – we are seeing more businesses in Redditch with over 3,000 in the town. This doesn’t necessarily mean population growth as people will commute, but strong business means career opportunities and makes people less likely to depart for elsewhere in the UK.
  • Make Redditch an option for people – by which I mean make Redditch a place that people will look at and want to move here. That’s things like making sure the place looks nice, it feels safe, it has plenty of things to see and do, and people can see themselves at home here. Part of that is also around housing choices – making sure people have a good choice of homes rather than the usual square boxes on offer at the moment. 

Above all, if we want Redditch to be bigger and better, we need to think bigger and better for our town and that starts with all of us living here right now.