Demographics and communities
Coventry is a diverse and cohesive city with a relatively young population, with a median age of 32 years compared to the UK average of 40 years. In recent years, the city has experienced an 8.9% growth in its population, from 316,915 in 2011 to 345,300 residents on Census Day 2021. This is higher than the rate in the region (6.2%) or England (6.6%).
In 2021, just over one-fifth (22%) of the city’s population are children and young people aged under 18, 65% are of working-age (18-64), and the remaining 13% are aged 65 and over. The city’s population has grown particularly amongst younger adults, alongside the growth and success of the city’s two universities in attracting students locally and internationally; as well as better-paid jobs in certain sectors of the local economy.
Over the past decade, the city has become increasingly ethnically diverse, with just under half of its school-aged population from an ethnic minority background in 2021; up from around one-third of the city’s population from an ethnic minority background at the 2011 census.
The percentage of Coventry neighbourhoods that are amongst the 10% most deprived in England reduced from 18.5% to 14.4% between 2015 and 2019. Based on this measure, Coventry ranked 64th nationally in 2019 (with 1st being the most deprived), an improvement in ranking from 46th in 2015. These pockets of deprivation limit people’s opportunities to succeed in life; and transforming life chances require addressing the social inequalities that are established right from the earliest years. The latest available data, for 2020/21, suggest that 23% of Coventry children aged 0-15 live in relative low-income families compared to 19% nationally.
Following Brexit and COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns, the economic outlook for the city remains challenging and uncertain. While spending and other economic activity rapidly bounced back in 2021-22, employment has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, rapid inflation in 2022 threatens the city’s recovery, with rapidly increasing energy prices and cost-of-living impacting on the finances of household and businesses alike.
Strengths of the city’s economy, where Coventry has a competitive advantage include advanced manufacturing and engineering; energy and low carbon; connected autonomous vehicles; business, professional and financial services; and digital, creative, and gaming. According to the Centre for Cities (2019), Coventry has the second highest rate of published patent applications out of 63 UK city clusters.
Around 40% of Coventry working aged residents have a higher-level qualification (NVQ4 or above) in 2021, up from 30% just six years ago, suggesting better graduate retention; however, 8% still have no qualifications.
In terms of children and young people, in 2019, 69% of the city’s five-year-olds achieve a good level of development at age 5. However, there remains a wide inequality gap of 38% between all pupils and lowest attaining 20%. Schools have rapidly improved in the city, with 93% of primary and 86% of secondary students attending a school rated good or outstanding by Ofsted in March 2022; and 93% of school leavers aged 16 achieve a sustained destination – and only 4.4% are not in education, employment, or training.
Housing and environment
According to the Coventry Household Survey 2021, residents are generally satisfied with their local area as a place to live; and the compact size of the city means that most people living within walking distance of a general store, public transport links, parks, pubs, GP surgery/health centre, place of worship. Additionally, Coventry is surrounded by large green spaces around the city and the Meriden Gap separating Coventry from the rest of the West Midlands conurbation, providing important tree cover and exercise space for residents. However, access and satisfaction are not uniform across the city, and there are pockets of significant deprivation and dissatisfaction in the city.
Coventry’s housing stock is typically small and old; as of March 2022, 70% of properties in Council Tax bands A to B, and just under two-thirds built before 1954. A lot of houses are not to modern efficiency standards, meaning that too many Coventry residents live in damp, poorly insulated homes, and pay too much to stay warm. According to the Government, in 2021, 20% of Coventry households live in low-income low energy efficiency households, compared to just 13% nationally.
The West Midlands Combined Authority has set a priority for the region to become net zero by 2041, and the City is working on a revised Green Futures strategy setting out how Coventry will remain within its carbon budget. This will require, amongst other things, retrofitting existing homes to ensure that they are up to modern insulation standards.
Many people living in some of the city’s more deprived neighbourhoods are subjected to higher levels of pollution and are more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses; and this can be exacerbated by living in poorly insulated homes.
As the cost-of-living crisis continues, it is expected that the proportion of households paying more than 10% of their household income to stay warm will increase from around 24% in summer 2022 to an estimated 62% by winter 2022; with around 12% of households in the city spending one-quarter of their household income to stay warm. This will disproportionately affect the most deprived parts of the city. Without state intervention, this is expected to plunge many more households and families, including some previously well-off households, into abject poverty, with associated negative impacts on health and wellbeing, and associated increases in crime and violence.
Health and wellbeing
The overall health and wellbeing in Coventry are below average, with residents living in more deprived parts of the city not only living shorter lives, but also spending a greater proportion of their shorter lives in poor health than those living in less deprived parts of the city. The life expectancy at birth of the average person in Coventry is 78 years for males and 82 years for females (2018-20). However, this masks significant health inequalities across the city – of 11 years and 8 years respectively. Healthy life expectancy for Coventry, the years residents spend in good health, are 61 and 64 years for males and females respectively; this has decreased and remain below the regional and England averages.
Inequalities in health arise out of inequalities in society. These inequalities are not inevitable and reducing inequality in society has been shown to lead to improvements in wellbeing, better mental health, better community and social relations, reduced levels of violence and better educational attainment. As a Marmot city, the city is working to address the ‘causes of the causes’ by resourcing and delivering of universal services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need.
Communities are best placed to address health challenges. This is because they have networks, understanding and legitimacy. However, their resources are limited, and capacity is stretched; and it is for public services to play an ‘enabling’ style of leadership, pooling engagement resources and building capacity, in line with the city’s One Coventry approach.
InsightAddress: PO Box 15