Laid Bare - the Hard Facts of Life Up North; Statistics Covering Every Aspect of Life, from House Prices to Crime and Life Expectancy in the North East Have Been Compiled. AMY HUNT Looks at the Figures

Article excerpt

THE North East is painted as a region of contrasts in a new report which gives a picture of what it is like to live in the region and how it compares to other places.

Households in the region have the lowest income in the country, while houses also cost the least on average.

But despite having some of the most high-achieving school students, many of its adults have no qualifications at all.

People are likely to live at least a year less than their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

The Regional Trends report from the Office for National Statistics reveals what it is like to live in the North East and how it compares to other places in England and the UK.

It brings together published figures on population, health, wealth, crime and the environment to paint an overall picture of the region.

The idea is to provide an objective and comprehensive overview of all statistics available, making the figures more accessible to the public.

Nationally from this year's report it appears there is still a North-South divide, particularly in health, with those in the north having higher death rates from cancer, respiratory and circulatory diseases.

The life expectancy for a baby boy in the North East is 76.5 years, a year less than the national average.

For the North East, the story the figures tell is of a region which is pulling itself up by the bootstraps, but which still has a long way to go.

That is not a conclusion drawn by the organisation which put the report together, however.

Allan Worthy, North East statistician for the Office for National Statistics, said: "The one thing the report doesn't do is to provide any comment.

"The ONS is independent of the Government so there's no interference from politicians.

"It's intended to be factual and tell the story of what it's like to live in the North East.

"I think there's value in people having access to these figures and in the ONS highlighting that they are available and showing them where to go if they want to delve deeper.

"We try to give the report balance. It's quite wordy, but there are still some maps and charts so it's more readable. The intention is to make the numbers accessible to people."

The report is not just numbers. It outlines the geography of the North East, its tourist attractions and starring roles it has played in films and TV series such as Get Carter, Billy Elliott and Catherine Cookson adaptations. …