Places apart: Exposing huge disparities in Northern Ireland’s 11 new councils
Examining disparities across a range of areas including education, health, employment, access to services and life expectancy and the resulting challenges for communities the story sets out a ‘league table’ of our local councils.
The data used in this project was sourced from: the Department of Finance and Personnel; the Department of Education; the Housing Executive; NI Statistics and Research Agency; the Department of Environment; and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
- The new councils have inherited debt totalling more than £1billion, equivalent to nearly £550 for every person living in Northern Ireland.
- There is a difference of nearly 25% between the rates bills of similarly priced homes in different districts.
- Derry and Strabane council area is at the bottom of the table, with the highest rates, highest unemployment (8%) and highest free school meal eligibility, plus lower levels of life expectancy and some of the highest levels of housing stress.
- The gaps in transport infrastructure in Northern Ireland illustrate poor provision in an area running from Derry and Strabane, through Fermanagh and Omagh, to Newry, Mourne & Down.
- Many other councils show poor results, including Belfast where poverty and overcrowding in deprived areas is blamed for low life expectancy and high levels of housing stress.
- Antrim and Newtownabbey has the lowest level of educational attainment, with just 54% of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs (A* to C) including English and Maths.
Insight from 15 voluntary and community organisations highlights the impact of these disparities on their communities. Ursula Gallagher from Strabane Community Project, which operates within the Derry and Strabane council area, commented on the impact of high rates, high unemployment and high free school meal eligibility on the community, “We opened the [foodbank] services in 2013 and to date we have had nearly 1,600 people that have availed of the service. When you come to the foodbank it is your rock bottom. It makes you think how many people out there really do need these services”
Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA said, “The data uncovered in this first Detail Data story shows there are significant disparities in a range of areas - including education, health and employment - across council areas in Northern Ireland. Holding our Assembly and Executive to account is what many of our member organisations do and this “league table” will help them do that more effectively”.
To read the full story by Cormac Campbell, or to review the impact of disparities in each of the different council areas, click here.
To access the data used in this story on the Detail Data Portal, click here.