Research suggests 'north-south divide' in Wales on cuts

A street in the Rhondda The valleys of south Wales are said to be among the areas that are least resilient to cuts

The south of Wales may find it harder to deal with public sector cuts than the north, according to new research.

A BBC Wales-commissioned study suggested a north-south divide in Wales, with the north generally more resilient to the cuts.

There are also big differences in the way counties just a few miles apart are expected to cope, with Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent top and bottom.

The south Wales valleys were said to be among the least resilient areas.

Start Quote

Unless you want to work for the civil service, Tesco or a call centre there's very little to do”

End Quote Rob, London - You can send us your views on what should happen to balance the books below

The research aimed to illustrate the ability of areas to withstand and respond to shocks such as job reductions.

Researchers looked at themes such as business and community, and examined 31 different factors to produce the index.

They studied the strength of the local business base, people's skill levels, life expectancy, crime rates and house prices.

The ranking is influenced by factors such as the number of business professionals and the percentage of green space an area has.

The BBC commissioned the research as part of The Spending Review: Making it Clear season, which looks at the UK government's plans to make huge public sector savings.

The results of the coalition government's spending review will be announced on 20 October. This will reveal which departments will see their budgets cut and by how much.

Based on the BBC research, Wales' 22 local authority areas were given an overall ranking from most resilient to least resilient or most vulnerable.

Monmouthshire is said to be the most resilient county and nearby Blaenau Gwent the least resilient.

Community resilience

A north-south divide also emerged, with Flintshire, Gwynedd, Conwy, Anglesey and Denbighshire among the dozen most resilient counties.

The south Wales valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent were among the least resilient.

The research suggested Powys and Cardiff had highly resilient business bases, while Merthyr Tydfil fared worst in this section.

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A special BBC News season examining the approaching cuts to public sector spending

Powys and Ceredigion had the highest "community resilience", with Merthyr scoring lowest.

Monmouthshire was said to have the highest "people resilience", with the highest concentration of highly qualified workers.

Spending Review: The Wales Debate is on BBC One Wales on Tuesday at 2235BST.

As health, policing and council services face the prospect of the most severe public spending cuts in 80 years Betsan Powys and Jason Mohammad talk to those making the savings and those who will be hit by them.

They'll be asking the audience to vote on how they would help balance the books.

What would you do? What services would you protect? Would you merge councils or let the private sector take on some council roles? Would you close hospitals? Replace some prison sentences with community sentences? Here are a selection of your responses, some of which may be used in the Wales Debate programme.

Force all those in the highest tax bracket to pay for all their services. Reopen the mines to create jobs and boost economy. Cut councillor wages, making them normal workers. Extend the councillor role to all citizens. Make prisoners go into the armed forces, or work down the mines. Increase taxation on corporations and high earners. Extend the nhs so that it produces its own drugs (and sells them). Legalise prostitution and cannabis to raise extra tax. Decentralise government roles, removing pointless posts. Force fat cats to stump up cash! Revolution, revolution.

, Stephen Anthony Miller, Nottinghamshire

Since the Cardiff Assembly kept all the money and jobs down there, you can't expect those of us up here to feel any sympathy when that artificial economy contracts. Wrexham doesn't need, or want, the Cardiff Assembly. We would be far better off reinforcing our links with Cheshire and Merseyside.

, Stan Thomas, Wrexham

The UK let alone Wales seem to have lost control of wages and expenditure in public services, how can we expect hard working taxpayers to suffer further cuts or increased costs for a service. Public servants from, judges,doctors,heads of any public office to name a few seem to have "out of proportion" salaries, pensions,and bonuses set by "friends" on pay boards. It is utterly irresponsible for these people to recieve more for being in charge of a counties health or services section than the prime minister himself. Taxpayers should have more control

, John Marsh, Wales

There is too much reliance on medicine, and not enough on personal responsibility to lead a healthy lifestyle. We think that prescription charges should be reintroduced, at least for those who can afford them.

, Andrew Fawcett, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan

"Make prisoners go into the armed forces"Are you mad? You think service in the armed forces is supposed to be some kind of punishment? Do you really want to depend on criminals to protect the country, let along hand them weapons freely?

, Al

Reorganise local governement as a matter of urgency. Why have 22 chief execs, directors of social services, education, finance etc on huge pay packets when in reality we could get away with 3 or 4 of each for the whole of Wales (Birimnigham is bigger than the 22 put together and has one of each never mind 22). Force the 22 little fiefdoms to merge and share services for immediate quick-fix efficiency savings and economies of scale.

, Jimmy Gilligan, Bridgend

I agree with Stan in Wrexham comments, the urban part of South East Wales should have great links with Bristol, Gloucester and Swindon. After all, unless you work in the NHS or the Local council, you spend your life driving up and down the M4 /M5 as there are no private sector jobs in South East Wales anymore, unless you wish to work in Tescos....this "One Wales" thing is just ideology

, Steve, Barry

Rural communities like in Powys are more 'resilient' because we are used to having so much less than the southern urbanized areas. For example: Powys, the largest county in Wales, doesn't even have a general hospital.

, Craig Cartmell, Newtown, Powys

Local authorities took services in house a long time ago because contractors were forming cabals and ripping them off. As a council employee and UNISON branch secretary I witnessed loyal hard working employees literally being sold to the lowest bidder - the reverse of slave market transactions. I was heavily involved in the Thatcher round of privatisations and witnessed corruption re the letting of contracts. There were 'turf wars' in the refuse collection contracts and I came to the conclusion that other contracts were awarded through the back door at certain secret society meetings and not in council meetings. Competitive tendering was a farce and will be again if it is prescribed

, Geoff Cobb, Newcastle Emlyn

Powys operating council needs urgently to look at its appalling waste of council tax payers money by reviewing its outbased offices and utter duplication. There's a office for everything and they all do the same thing. What a terrible waste of resources, wages, lighting, heating c/tax, water etc. It beggars belief in this 21st century, no wonder Powys is ridden with poverty and crumbling schools and very poor medical services.

, Tom Jones, Newtown

There is only one sensible way to balance the books and that is to abolish the system which exploits the greater majority.

, Brian Johnson, RCT

Comments: The debate so far is very heavily focussed on inputs - how much money do we have and what will we have to cut to meet this cost envelope. Not much discussion is given over to the quality of services and how this maps to expenditure (the Assembly's Performance Indicators are in no way indicative of performance I'm afraid).

, Gwydion, Gwynedd

Start at the top close the Welsh Assembly it has a dubious mandate and costs Billions for very little benefit to the individuals who watch all the excesses such as Ieaun Air

, Martyn Brown, Monmouthshire

Wales is effectively a bankrupt country. There is massive state dependency through either benefits or jobs and the Welsh Assembly is only concerned with ensuring its own survival through increased subsidies that can be doled out to the all too willing occupants. There should be a far greater focus on innovation and entrepreneurial ventures, Wales needs to drag itself out of its subsidy based, victim culture and become a financially independent member of the UK. It's no surprise that I am amongst countless others born in Wales but employed in England when there are so few quality jobs in the country. Unless you want to work for the civil service, Tesco or a call centre there's very little to do, the regional government have replaced the drudgery of the mines with an 'industry' seemingly intent on killing the mind and spirit.

, Rob, London

How can you take research into the impact of public spending cuts seriously when the criteria doesn't include the proportion of employment provided by the public sector. The largest employment sector in Powys is public - the area facing the deepest cuts - yet the county is rated as resilient. The research is flawed.

, John Jones, Montgomeryshire

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