YOUTH unemployment is growing, homelessness is on the rise and there's an increasing demand on our primary schools.

Those are some of the key findings published in the county council and NHS Somerset's Join Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) this week.

It also said hospital admissions for alcohol-related diseases increased over the past year, while screening rates for breast cancer (for women aged 53-64), cervical and bowel cancer are generally higher across Somerset.

The annual report shows the facing change of Somerset and collects together information from a wide range of sources to highlight trends in health and social care, housing, transport, crime, employment, education and other issues.

Somerset's new acting director of public health Trudi Grant said: “We will use the JSNA to inform decisions at this very important time when the local authority is taking new responsibilities for Health and Wellbeing from April 2013.

“Overall Somerset enjoys relatively good health when compared with the rest of the country, with people generally living longer than the national average.

“However, the fact that people live longer does mean that more people are living with longer-term health conditions and the demands on our health and social care services will increase over time.”

Figures in the report said Sedgemoor had the sharpest increase in youth unemployment, with one in twelve aged 18-24 out of work.

It also said homes in West Somerset are becoming less affordable relative to income and that the number of overseas migrants in the county is increasing, likely to rise further if Hinkley C is approved.

Primary schools are also becoming stretched due to the growing population.
This year the report also looked into issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Berkeley Wilde, director of the Diversity Trust, which worked with NHS Somerset to obtain results, said there are small positive actions that can be taken to make the experience of LGB and transgender people using health and social services better.

Cllr Christine Lawrence, chair of the Somerset shadow health and wellbeing board, added: “The JSNA is an important tool which is helping to inform the new Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Somerset. 

"It collects together valuable information about changes to the local population, social issues such as employment levels and how we live our lives, so we can build a more complete picture of the issues locally.”

Click here to read the full report.