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Greater Manchester agencies working in partnership
Greater Manchester agencies working in partnership

Greater Manchester Risk Profile

To understand why some risks are more significant in Greater Manchester, we look at the social, health, environmental, infrastructure and economic profile of our county.

These factors also influence how we can prepare for and manage emergencies at a local level. Here are some facts about our county that you may not be aware of:


With a population of 2.8million residents, Greater Manchester is the second most populous area within the UK and the sixth most-densely populated. Greater Manchester has an ethnically diverse population, with 11.6% of residents from ethnic minorities. Greater Manchester has the second-highest resident student population within the UK, with over 150,000 students studying at five universities and the Royal College of Music.


The Greater Manchester economy supports 1.14million jobs across a wide variety of sectors and includes 93,000 businesses. With an economy of £48.2billion, Greater Manchester’s is the largest subregional economy in the UK outside London and the south east, larger than Wales and Northern Ireland.
International recognition and global success in areas such as advanced manufacturing, health research and the digital sector have given Greater Manchester the potential to grow at an average of 2.2% per year between 2015 and 2035.

This is equivalent to an additional £32.4billion of economic activity and would see the area grow faster than the UK (1.8% per annum). The unemployment rate in Greater Manchester was 5.5% (or 75,300 people) in the 12 months up to September 2017 – a decrease of 8,400 over the same period a year earlier. The overall rate is still marginally higher than that for the UK as a whole (4.5%).


Rates of obesity, smoking, cancer and heart disease within greater Manchester are significantly higher than the national averages. In 2017, 393,000 adults over the age of 35 were smokers equating to 18.4% of adults. The national average for this group is 15.5%. In the same year, 4,500 smoking-related deaths were recorded.

Obesity levels among adults within Greater Manchester is currently 24.9%. The excess winter death rate for Greater Manchester in 2015/16 was 12.54%, compared to a UK average of 14.7%.


Covering 500 square miles, Greater Manchester is a large and complex mix of environments. There is a combination of high-density urban areas within its two cities and numerous towns. There is also a number of suburban, semi-rural and rural spaces within the area, with a wide range of landscapes from moorland and wooded cloughs, to the vast reed beds of Wigan.

There are 13 rivers flowing through Greater Manchester, several reservoirs and a network of canals, including the Manchester Ship Canal. The built environment in Greater Manchester has seen an increase of almost 6.5million sq m of office, warehouse and industrial space, together with 227,000 sq m of housing and residential space since 2016.

Greater Manchester’s winter rainfall has risen by 13% in recent years and £23.4million has been spent on flood defences since 2013.


Greater Manchester is a major transport hub for north-west England; Manchester Airport is the third-busiest within the UK: in 2017, almost 28million passengers and 124,000 tons of freight passed through the airport to more than 200 destinations.

Major strategic motorway links run through Greater Manchester with many connected to the M60 orbital motorway.

Metrolink is the largest light rail network in the UK with over 97Km of track. Currently there are seven lines servicing 93 stations across seven boroughs with further expansion ongoing.