Wellbeing index highlights urban-rural prosperity divide

19 Feb 18

There is a stark prosperity divide between urban and rural places and northern and southern cities in England, according to a wellbeing charity.

The report by charity Happy City and Triodos Bank, uses an innovative ‘Thriving Places Index’ which rated 150 local authorities against three criteria: sustainability, local conditions and equality. It sees these as the main drivers of wellbeing.

By applying this new method for measuring an authority’s prosperity the charity have found that the 11 local authorities with the worst conditions are all urban.

Additionally, the North East is the worst performing region, while Bath and North Somerset came in on top as the only local authority to perform above average according to the three main indicators.

Generally, southern authorities fared the best with Wokingham, Buckinghamshire and Surrey leading the way in local conditions.

Also, London boroughs Tower Hamlets, Newham and Luton had the best sustainability ratings due to low levels of energy consumption and above average recycling rates.

The ‘Thriving Places Index’ was created as an alternative to the traditional use of gross domestic product as a way of measuring a nation’s success.

Happy City noted many commentator see GDP as being an overly simplistic measurement, something highlighted at the World Economic Forum last month by economist Diane Coyle who criticised GDP’s disregard for environmental impacts.

Bevis Watts, managing director of Triodos Bank UK said: “For too long, society has focused on the single measure of GDP, and outdated metric incapable of connecting our economy with social and environmental outcomes that determine our wellbeing and future prosperity.”

Liz Ziedler, founding director of Happy City said: “The index is a practical tool, that can be used right now, to help leaders who want to ensure the sum of their efforts – in every sector – is a better quality of life for people now and in the future.”

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