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Communities & Places (UKSPF)

Information about Communities and Places includes data on housing, crime, quality of life, place vibrancy, connectivity and interactions between places.

Housing is affordable

in the North East compared to the rest of the country.

More crime

experienced in the North East than the rest of England (excluding London). 


Fewer workplace visits

below pre-Covid levels.

Lower participation

in cultural activities.

Commuting flows

redistribute income across the North East.

About this investment theme

The focus for this investment theme is to:

  • Strengthening our social fabric and fostering a sense of local pride and belonging, through investment in activities that enhance physical, cultural and social ties and amenities, such as community infrastructure and local green space, and community-led projects
  • Build resilient and safe neighbourhoods, through investment in quality places that people want to live, work, play and learn in, through targeted improvements to the built environment and innovative approaches to crime prevention


Housing is relatively affordable in the North East LEP area, compared to England as a whole. In the latest data (for 2020/21) the number of new houses started in the North East  was higher than the number completed. Most of the new houses were private enterprise dwellings. In 2020, the North East had a higher proportion of households in fuel poverty than nationally.


The North East recorded crime rate in 2021 was higher than in England excluding London. This was due to higher rates of criminal damage and arson and of public order offences.

Quality of life

In the North East, low levels of life satisfaction are more prevalent than nationally according to the latest data. Most North East local authority areas have higher premature mortality rates and a higher percentage of the small areas are classified as deprived than nationally. The North East also has a relatively high percentage of children in low income families.

North East working age households were more likely to include no workers than nationally, according to the latest data. A recent survey of North East residents suggested that the majority were intending to cut down on leisure activities and car journeys in the next few months. In general, people in the North East are better served by public green spaces than nationally.

Place vibrancy

In normal, non-holiday, weeks in June 2022, North East visits to retail and recreation locations were still almost 7% below pre-Covid levels, with workplace visits  about 15% lower. The initial impact of Covid-19 on retail and recreation visits had been greatest in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Participation in culture

Within the North East, engagement in arts and culture varied by type and local authority area, according to the latest data. It was generally highest in Newcastle and North Tyneside. About 5,000 people were employed in the North East cultural sector in 2020.

Interactions between places​

Every ten years, the Census results include detailed statistics about the flow of commuters between local authority areas. In 2011 the pattern was complex. Flows into Newcastle were particularly large but there were significant commuting flows into and out of all seven North East local authority areas.

Differences in workplace and residence-based pay highlight that many higher paid workers commute into Newcastle and Sunderland city centres from other areas. Most of the North East has good public transport access to major employment centres but parts of Northumberland and County Durham are exceptions.


The North East LEP area has a higher rate of electric vehicle charging points per head than England excluding London. The area has lower percentages of homes with gigabit capable broadband than nationally and the same is true for full-fibre broadband availability. 

Evidence review on 'what works'

In support of the development of the regional UKSPF evidence base, we have compiled a list of policy evaluations and evidence reviews aligned with the UKSPF investment themes. This summary can be found here.