Press release:

Solihull best place to live according to UK quality of life index

  • High disposable income, high life expectancy and fast broadband speeds place Solihull at the top of the new uSwitch.com Quality of Life Index
  • Scottish regions dominate the bottom of the index with East and North Ayrshire officially the worst places to live – let down by low income, poor exam results and fewer hours of sunshine
  • Richest region: West Londoners enjoy the highest levels of disposable income – three times higher than Nottingham, the poorest region
  • Costliest region: Council tax is highest in Leicestershire while energy prices are highest in Nottinghamshire and petrol highest in Northamptonshire
  • Most dangerous region: despite earning the most, West London has the highest crime rates while Northumberland has the lowest.

Solihull is officially the best place to live in the UK, while East and North Ayrshire in Scotland are the worst, according to a new Quality of Life index from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. High disposable income, longer life expectancy and fast broadband speeds have all contributed to Solihull’s position at the top.

The uSwitch.com study assessed 138 local areas for 24 different factors including salaries, disposable household income and the cost of essential goods, such as fuel, food and energy bills, as well as lifestyle factors such as working hours, life expectancy and hours of sunshine, to provide a complete picture of the quality of life in each region.

The findings show that, while Solihull comes out on top, the bottom of the index is dominated by Scottish regions. East and North Ayrshire is ranked as the worst place to live in the UK, with low income, poor exam results and low life expectancy – as well as a distinct lack of sunshine.

Situated nine miles away from Birmingham, Solihull is considered one of the most prosperous towns in the Midlands and is home to Land Rover’s main production plant. The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) also falls within the borough as does a large chunk of Birmingham airport. The Silhillians, Solihull’s residents, have benefitted from the recent redevelopment of the town centre including a large new shopping centre.

According to the report, people in Solihull pay high house prices, high energy bills and hefty council tax bills. However, these costs are outstripped by high average salaries of £27,435 a year and relatively high levels of disposable income of £17,359 a year. Added to these are low mortality rates, high life expectancy (in Solihull men live until they are 81 and women 84) and above average broadband speeds of 17Mb. Even car insurance premiums are cheaper in Solihull, at just £528 per year.

By contrast, residents in both East and North Ayrshire, ranked the ‘worst’ places to live, cope with average salaries of £24,242 a year and disposable income of £14,430 a year – 17% less than the Silhillians. Their life expectancy is lower (with men living until 75 and women living until 80), there is a lower employment rate and broadband speeds of just 8Mb, twice as slow as Solihull. Exam results are relatively poor and the regions experience less sunshine than the rest of the country.

Income – West London is Britain’s richest region by a long way with average salaries of £35,500 and an annual disposable household income of £32,800 – three times higher than disposable income in Nottingham (£10,834). Surrey comes second for spending power, followed by Buckinghamshire. 

Living costs – when it comes to essential household bills, the uSwitch.com Quality of Life Index shows the difference paid by consumers for their essential costs depending on where they live. While people in Leicestershire spend the most on council tax, energy bills are highest in the East Midlands and petrol costs highest in Northamptonshire.

Crime – despite earning the most, West London is the most dangerous place to live, with the highest crime rates in the UK.  Northumberland, ranked the eighth overall in Quality of Life Index, has the lowest rate of reported crime in the country.

Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, says: “This is hard evidence of the different challenges faced by people depending on where they live. Despite the uplift in the economy, British households are facing huge financial pressure as the cost of living continues to climb while take home pay stays stagnant.

“It’s clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to fixing the problems in our country, but there’s a lot that consumers can do to help themselves. By taking a hard look at our household budgets and cutting the cost of essential bills, we can influence our standard of living and improve our overall quality of life.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

 

Methodology

 

The uSwitch UK Quality of Life Index is a comprehensive assessment of relative performance by 138 of the UK’s Local Authorities (within England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) against a wide-ranging set of 24 measures (detailed sources used are below).  Data for all measures was obtained from reliable public sources, and ranked in “Best to Worst” order.  These were then weighted according to our assessment of the relative importance of each measure to Quality of Life, and added together to obtain a “Total Weighted Score” for each Local Authority.  Finally, each score was converted into an index, with the average Total Weighted Score from across the UK being given a Quality Of Life Index of 100.  The higher the Index, the higher the Quality Of Life.  The lower the Index, the lower the Quality Of Life.  Data collection was conducted and analysed by Research Insight (www.research-insight.com), an independent marketing research consultancy, July – September 2013.

 

Detailed data sources

 

  1. Employment  Rate : Oct 2011 to Sep 2012, %

 

  1. Average weekly working hours Full-Time; 31 to 48 Hours Worked (Mar 2011, in % of people)

 

  1. Average weekly working hours Full-Time; 49 or More Hours Worked (Mar 2011, in % of people)

 

  1. Average gross income : Full time Workers median Weekly Gross Pay – Workplace Based (FY 2012 –  per week)

 

  1. Disposable income : Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head at current prices – FY 2011 (in GBP)

 

  1. Education : Number of  pupils per State-funded primary school as on Jan 2012

 

  1. Exam Results : % of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 achieving 5+ A*-C grades inc. English & Mathematics at GCSE and equivalents in 2011-12

 

  1. House prices: Mean House prices for FY 2011 in GBP

 

  1. Average Weekly Rent (in 2011-12)

Data taken from sheet – “Table 702: local authority average weekly rents, by district, from 1998 to 1999”.  Excel sheet attached for reference

 

  1. Crime rates : Overall crime rate (CSEW Comparator)  FY 2011/12, Overall crime rates (BCS comparator), per 1,000 persons”

 

  1. “Mortality rates : All-age all cause mortality rate (2008-10) , rate per 100,000 persons”

 

  1. Male life expectancy at birth (2008-10)

 

  1. Female life expectancy at birth (2008-10)

 

  1. Council Tax rate : Band D FY 12/13

 

  1. Average dual fuel bills
  • Importance to QOL:                              Medium importance
  • Best value (highest or lowest):            Lowest value
  • Data provided by uSwitch.com

 

  1. Car insurance premiums : Average yearly expenditure of all households on Motor Insurance – FY 2011

Data taken from the sheet – “Household spending on insurance tables.xls”. Refer to Table 7 (tab 6-11).

 

  1. Annual home insurance spend : Average yearly expenditure of all households on Structure & Contents – FY 2011
  • Importance to QOL:                              Low importance
  • Best value (highest or lowest):            Lowest value

https://www.abi.org.uk/Insurance-and-savings/Industry-data/Free-industry-data-downloads

Data taken from the sheet – “Household spending on insurance tables.xls”. Refer to Table 7 (tab 6-11). Excel sheet attached for reference.

 

  1. Petrol prices (in pence-GBP)

 

  1. Food prices : Food & non-alcoholic drinks; Average weekly household expenditure; 2009-2011

 

  1. Broadband speed : Average Modem Sync Speed, 2012, Mbit/second

 

  1. Average annual sunshine : hours; 1981–2010 averages

 

  1. CO2 levels / pollution / air quality : Estimated per capita emissions of CO2 FY 2010 (tonnes per head)

 

  1. New car registrations per ‘000 population

 

  1. Company closures (any company type;  FY2011) per ‘000 population

Data taken from the sheet – “Business Demography 2011.xls”. Refer to TABLE 2.1 – COUNT OF DEATHS OF ENTERPRISES for 2009 – 2011. Excel sheet attached for reference.

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG, which operates some of the UK’s most trusted digital brands that help empower smarter property and household decisions including Zoopla, Money, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes.

If you would no longer like to receive our press releases please email prteam@uswitch.com with 'unsubscribe'.