Thursday, 9 September 2010

Regional resilience to cuts

Industrial areas in the North East and Midlands are least resilient to economic shocks, according to a BBC-commissioned research study looking at the ability of each local authority area to withstand sudden changes in the economy.

The research, carried out by Experian, looks at four key themes; business, community, people and place.

For each theme, a number of factors have been analysed, including the amount of vulnerable and resilient industry within an area, the life expectancy of residents, earnings of workers, unemployment and crime rates. The BBC commissioned the research as part of its 'The Spending Review: Making it Clear' season, which looks at the government's plans to make deep public sector savings.

Clearly, in advance of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October, the research cannot predict the local areas which will suffer the biggest public sector cuts, but ranks areas in terms of their resilience to economic shocks, such as public sector cuts.

The Experian research suggests Middlesbrough will be the least resilient to such public sector cuts. Alastair Thomson, dean of Teesside University's business school, said Middlesbrough had a high number of workers employed in the public sector, particularly in the NHS and education.

Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon said the town's budget would be cut by more than £30m over the next three years. But he said the council had planned for it and was confident it could cope.

Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, South Tyneside and Sunderland are all in the bottom 20 of the overall resilience table.

At the top of Experian's resilience table is Elmbridge in Surrey, followed by St Albans in Hertfordshire.

The BBC's article includes links to details of the methodology behind Experian's Index of Resilience and a spreadsheet of rankings for all authorities for each theme and for all factors.

In Wales, the latest figures suggest the region could be more vulnerable to spending cuts than other parts of the UK because of the high proportion of people employed in the public sector.

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