New Data Tool to Improve Future of Welsh Towns

December 5, 2017

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  • The Carnegie UK Trust and Welsh Government agree partnership to fund new ‘Understanding Welsh Places’ data tool
  • Critical need to improve the data available about Welsh towns
  • Project hosted by the Institute of Welsh Affairs

The Welsh Government has partnered with the Carnegie UK Trust to develop a new data platform that will improve our understanding of and evidence base about Welsh Towns.

The ‘Understanding Welsh Places’ (UWP) project aims to collate data-driven insights that will inform national and local policy decisions, contribute to more empowered and resilient communities, and improve the wellbeing of individuals.

Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Rebecca Evans, said, “I am grateful to Carnegie UK for their valuable study and pleased to announce that Welsh Government has already responded positively to one of the recommendations identified.

“Having robust data is a fundamental requirement for supporting regeneration, both in understanding the needs of places in implementing regeneration strategies and when monitoring the impact of any interventions.  I am delighted to support the work to develop an ‘Understanding Welsh Places’ web-based data tool and excited to see work on this get underway shortly.”

The project will result in a mobile, interactive tool that anyone can use to draw data-driven conclusions about their town and how it compares with others. The consortium of partners involved will be convened by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA).

Auriol Miller, Director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs, said: “Over the coming decades Welsh towns will be confronted with challenges from increasing urbanisation, an ageing population, climate change, and the changing landscapes of technology and employment. The scale and scope of the challenges mean that this project can make a significant contribution to building understanding and consensus on the sorts of actions that can increase the prosperity of Welsh towns and the wellbeing of the people who live in them”.

The new tool, funded primarily by the Carnegie UK Trust and Welsh Government, will be loosely based on a highly successful similar undertaking it also led in Scotland, known as Understanding Scottish Places, The result was UK’s first online tool to help understand the facts, figures and interrelationships that underpin all of Scotland’s towns.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust said: “Towns can often struggle to secure attention and are rarely the driving force behind major policy decisions. Powerful rural and city interests can crowd out the voices of towns – and in a country like Wales, that can have serious consequences.

“There is a critical need to improve the data and evidence base available about Welsh towns in order to prevent this. The Understanding Welsh Places platform will help communities to better understand how they can reach their potential, and we hope this can translate into fresh policy decisions.”

The Understanding Welsh Places project is a direct consequence of the Carnegie UK Trust’s ‘Supporting local places and local people: Opportunities and challenges for Welsh towns’ report, published today and produced in partnership with Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).

Peter Davies, Chair of WCVA, added: “The voluntary sector could play a key role in supporting the growth and development of Welsh towns. This report makes a number of recommendations for actions that all sectors can take to turnaround the future of our towns. We have to view this challenge holistically and hope this report and the new Understanding Welsh Places platform will help us to explore how the third sector and voluntary action can contribute to more empowered and resilient communities.”

Welcoming the news, Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart, said, “I welcome this investment by the Welsh Government and Carnegie UK Trust following the success of the Understanding Scottish Places (USP) data platform in Scotland.  The Scottish Government commissioned USP to help create comparable and easy to use information about our towns.  Since it launched in 2015, it has been used widely to help communities build evidence based ideas for the future.

“Its valuable role in planning was recognised last month through the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning award for North Ayrshire Council’s comprehensive use of USP.  It will now be developed further to incorporate new data sources and continue to provide communities with insights to help increase the prosperity of Scottish places and the wellbeing of the people who live in them.”




For more information please contact Alex Messis or Laura-Jane Cameron at [email protected] or 0131 226 2363.

About the Carnegie Trust

The Carnegie UK Trust works to improve the lives of people throughout the UK and Ireland, by changing minds through influencing policy, and by changing lives through innovative practice and partnership work. The Carnegie UK Trust was established by Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1913.

The ‘Supporting local places and local people: Opportunities and challenges for Welsh towns’ report, published today, can be found here in English and Welsh:


About the IWA
The Institute of Welsh Affairs is an independent think-tank working to make Wales better. We come up with practical ideas to improve the economy, education and health. We are an independent charity, funded by our members and charitable trusts. Our vision is to help create a better Wales where everyone can flourish.  For more information see