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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Spending Review: The Local Debates on BBC One

Middlesbrough, Mansfield and Stoke-on-Trent most vulnerable to economic shock

New research commissioned by the BBC identifies areas of England most vulnerable to economic shocks such as business failures and job losses.

In order of vulnerability, areas least resilient to economic turbulence are Middlesbrough, Mansfield, Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell, Kingston upon Hull, Redcar & Cleveland, Barrow-in-Furness, Ashfield, Hartlepool, Walsall, Burnley, South Tyneside and North East Lincolnshire.

The research, conducted by Experian and commissioned by BBC English Regions, comes just weeks before the coalition Government unveils its Comprehensive Spending Review and provides one of the most comprehensive insights into the current state of the English economy.

The research, which assesses the economic resilience of every local authority area in England, includes over 30 separate measures and has been independently assessed and validated by statistical experts. The research looks at the ability of each local authority area to withstand and respond to economic shocks such as public sector job losses and business insolvencies.

In order to provide a complete view of local and regional resilience, Experian compiled a national ranking which gathered data across four key themes covering: Business, People, Place and the Community. Each of these themes sought to address the following questions:

  • Business: How strong is the local business base? Is it dependent on sectors that have been hit by recession? Does it have a high number of firms proven to adapt to difficult economic conditions? Have many firms gone out of business? Are businesses dependent on only local markets, or do they export?
  • People: Is there a large working age population that can contribute to the economy? How many people have high skills levels? How many people work as managers and how many people work in elementary roles such as cleaners and refuse workers? How much do locals earn on average?
  • Community: How high is life expectancy? How many people claim benefits? Does the area suffer from deprivation? How many households are vulnerable to long-term unemployment? How many households are vulnerable to declines in disposable income?
  • Place: What are GCSE attainment rates like? Are house prices high? How high is the local crime rate? Is there a lot of green space for people to enjoy?

Bruno Rost, from Experian, explains: "Whilst business strength and economic growth are important factors, consideration of other, wider aspects of local resilience gives a greater understanding of the ability of an area to bounce back.

"In areas such as Broxstowe and North Kesteven, the resilience of People, Place and Community is far higher than their business resilience. Conversely areas such as Islington and Tower Hamlets have relatively high business resilience compared to their people, place and community scores. In both cases these disparities will have a direct impact on the area's ability to maximise its potential.

"It is perhaps unsurprising that some of the least resilient areas in business terms are also those areas with lowest average earnings. However there are also areas, such as Hartlepool and Wirral, which have low business resilience but average earnings and where the drop in income may actually have a larger impact as a result."

Controller of BBC English Regions, David Holdsworth, said: "This information provides our audience with an economic MOT, helping them understand how strong their local areas are. This research and analysis suggests that there are areas much better placed than others to withstand the impact of public sector cuts, and other economic events.

"The study takes into account a wide range of factors to help build a complete picture in advance of the Spending Review in October. Tonight's debates, our local radio phone ins and our BBC local online sites will all be adding to this analysis by looking at some of the options."

Notes to Editors

It is a condition of using this research data that you use the following information in your copy:

Spending Review: The Local Debates will be shown across England on BBC One 9 September at 10.35pm (50 mins). BBC Local Radio stations will be debating these findings at 9am on Friday 10 September.

You can find further information at

Methodology statement:

BBC English Regions commissioned the rankings from Experian who collected data for every single local authority in England. (District and Unitary only, and all of them except for the Isles of Scilly and the City of London)

They looked at 33 different variables across four broad areas – business, people, place and community – to assess how capable local areas are to withstand economic shocks and produced an 'index of resilience'.

Resilience is a concept used to describe the ability of an area to withstand and respond to shocks in the external environment. Some variables are drawn from publicly available data, others from Experian's proprietary data sources and research.

This research is useful in understanding how areas will respond to cuts, and the positive and negative factors that underpin performance across different local areas. It is important to note that this research does not report the local areas which will suffer the greatest amounts of public sector cuts.

An expert in official statistics has independently assessed the methodology, rankings and weightings.

National picture:

Most resilient

1 Elmbridge
2 St Albans
3 Waverley
4 Richmond upon Thames
5 Mole Valley
6 Hart
7 Horsham
8 Surrey Heath
9 Chiltern
10 South Cambridgeshire

Least resilient

314 Burnley
315 Walsall
316 Hartlepool
317 Ashfield
318 Barrow-in-Furness
319 Redcar and Cleveland
320 Kingston upon Hull, City of
321 Sandwell
322 Stoke-on-Trent
323 Mansfield
324 Middlesbrough


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