Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Reports – analysis of metrics 2019

Date of the resource

May 2019

Author of the resource


Purpose of the resource

Sustainability West Midlands (SWM) is the sustainability delivery partner for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). These reports are part of an ongoing support programme to help the WMCA integrate sustainability within its strategy and operations, drawing on good local and national practice. These reports provide an independent overview and analysis of the data used to underpin sustainability performance and monitoring in the WMCA area and how these compare to the eight other CAs areas in England. It follows the first iteration and second iteration published a year ago. In September, we will be publishing our independent annual benchmark of how well the WMCA is performing on integrating sustainability with its operations and delivery compared to other CAs, and recommendations for continued improvements. See here for 2018’s version of this report.

Key findings

Environment Progress
  • The WMCA has reduced its overall and per capita emissions between the years 2010 to 2016 albeit slightly less than the average, but remains the CA region that emits more carbon than any other due to its size. It is also the region that has achieved the highest rate of economic growth, whilst still reducing carbon emissions.
  • The West Midlands breached air quality standards on 46 days in 2017, the third highest CA, and breached standards ten days more than the average across all CAs. This is likely due to the dry summer of 2018.
  • The West Midlands has generated much less electricity from renewables than the CA average, but saw a 14% increase in renewable generation between 2016 and 2017, on a par with the CA average.
  • The West Midlands recycles slightly less of its non-household waste than the CA average although there was a small increase in recycling rates between 2016 and 2017.
  • West Midland household waste recycling rates have generally declined over time and are lower than the CA average.
  • The percentage of sites in positive conservation management has increased in the West Midlands since 2010, but remains low compared to the CA average.
Social Progress
  • Health inequality is slightly lower in the WMCA than in other CA areas, but remains high overall and has increased between 2015 and 2016. The gap between male and female health inequality is low in the WMCA compared to other CA areas.
  • The percentage of people who die as a result of exposure to particulate air pollution is higher in the West Midlands than the CA average, but has slightly declined since 2010.
  • Fuel poverty levels in the West Midlands are worse than the average across all CAs and the number of people in fuel poverty in the WMCA has increased between 2015 and 2016.
Economic Progress
  • The West Midlands is performing well in economic productivity compared to other CA areas with the highest economic growth rate and also has a slightly above average performance per head.
  • The West Midlands emits slightly less CO2 on average per £million GVA and has seen a 39% improvement in this since 2010, the second-most successful CA in this respect.

Recommendations to the WMCA include: establishment of more integrated targets, establishing better low carbon business, flood risk and natural environment metrics and taking action on climate adaptation, clear accountability and integrated working, clear annual reporting, resource to drive objectives and reporting of metrics into the WMCA and partners project systems and more action required on air quality, health inequality, fuel poverty, natural environment and recycling.

Links and contact information

Please contact SWM on 0121 237 5890 or at for more information.


WMCA Sustainability Metrics Summary Report Final May 2019

(31 pages) WMCA Sustainability Metrics Technical Report Final May 2019 (97 pages, containing full analysis, graphs and methodology)

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