A piece of research published today reveals a clear north-south divide.

The Tees Valley in general and Middlesbrough in particular are places which became rich on heavy industry.William Gladstone famously went to the original town hall in Middlesbrough and proclaimed it an “infant Hercules”.

Go to the same spot now and you find a sad, boarded-up building surrounded by wasteland and a few abandoned, crumbling houses.

The area found it increasingly hard to compete in global markets and, over time, government felt obliged to pump in state support to prop up and regenerate the declining economy.

It will be a mark of our ‘big society’ if we are able todeal with the challenges that face places across the North East – here is a summary of the findings.

Middlesbrough is the area of England least resilient to economic shocks, according to BBC-commissioned research.

The study, carried out by Experian, looks at the ability of each local authority area to withstand and respond to sudden changes in the economy.

With further public sector cuts on the cards, it suggests how England’s regions may cope.

Each area is ranked in order of resilience, and a clear north-south divide is evident.

Middlesbrough on Teesside is followed by Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, which is the second least resilient area according to the research, and then Stoke-on-Trent which is the third.

Elmbridge in Surrey is the most resilient area in England, followed by St Albans in Hertfordshire and then Waverley in Surrey, the information suggests. 

The research looks at four key themes; business, community, people and place.

Within these categories, 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 The Spending Review: Making it Clear season, which looks at the government’s plans to make deep public sector savings.

The results of the coalition government’s spending review will be announced in October, when it will be revealed which departments will see their budgets cut and by how much.

The Experian research suggests Middlesbrough will be the least resilient to such public sector cuts.

It is ranked at number 324 out of 324 council areas. The Teesside town also appears as the least resilient in the business section.

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