- Low crime rates, affordable living costs, high salaries and fast broadband propel Edinburgh up the charts to become the best place to live – taking over from Solihull
- Bradford and Hull are officially the worst places, let down by low disposable income, low employment, high rent and crowded schools
- Victory for Scotland: more than half of Scottish regions have improved their Quality of Life ranking since 2013 – the top seven biggest climbers are all in Scotland
- English doldrums: 16 out of the 20 biggest falling regions are in England
- Living costs: Nottingham pays the most in council tax yet has the second lowest disposable income in the UK – while energy bills are highest in Northern Ireland and lowest in Scotland
- Hardest working: 41% of people in West London work more than 45 hours a week compared to 15% in the Orkney Islands – but West Londoners are also paid the most
- Longest lives: women in Buckinghamshire live the longest, as do men in Surrey –while Glaswegians have the shortest life expectancy.
Edinburgh is officially the best place to live in the UK, Bradford is the worst, and Scottish regions make the biggest gain in rankings, according to the latest Quality of Life index from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. Low crime rates, affordable living costs, high average salaries and fast broadband all contribute to Edinburgh’s position at the top.
The uSwitch.com study assessed 138 local areas (NUTS3 regions) for 26 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.
Edinburgh’s meteoric rise to the top, jumping 97 places since the last Quality of Life Index in 2013 and knocking Solihull off its perch in the process, is due to a number of factors. It has the lowest reported crime rate in the UK, cheap petrol and energy bills, high average salaries of £29,588 and disposable household income of £20,083, as well as fast average broadband download speeds of 30Mbs.
Edinburgh wasn’t the only Scottish region to see a huge gain in its Quality of Life ranking, as the top seven biggest ranking risers are in Scotland. In fact, 13 of the 20 regions that saw the biggest gains in their Quality of Life rankings are located north of the border. The region of Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire, in South Western Scotland, has enjoyed the biggest ranking gain, rising 102 places from 112th to 10th place, thanks in part to some of the lowest household costs in the UK. And North Lanarkshire, also in South Western Scotland, has seen its position climb 98 places since 2013.
But, while everything is bonnie in Scotland, life is a little less rosy south of the border. 16 out of the 20 biggest falling regions are English, with both Bradford and Hull, both in the Yorkshire and Humber region, rooted at the foot of the UK Quality of Life Index.
According to the report, people in Bradford have amongst the lowest gross disposable household incomes of £13,654 a year, yet pay one of the highest average weekly rents of £92.60. The employment rate is low at 65% and there is also a lower than average life expectancy at 77 years and seven months for men and 81 years and four months for women. To top it all, the area suffers from crowded primary schools and just 44% of pupils achieved five GCSEs at A-C grades, at Key Stage 4.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Bradford residents. Low essential costs such as energy, food and council tax, together with cheaper house prices and higher than average broadband speeds, ease the pain a little.
Table 1: Top Ten Regions in UK Quality of Life Index 2015
|2015 ranking||NUTS3 region||2013 ranking||Change in rank position since 2013|
|1||Edinburgh, City of, Eastern Scotland||98||+97|
|2||Solihull, West Midlands||1||-1|
|3||Hertfordshire, East of England||3||0|
|4||Northumberland, North East||8||+4|
|5||South Lanarkshire, South Western Scotland||60||+55|
|6||Berkshire, South East||9||+3|
|7||Darlington, North East||25||+18|
|8||North Lanarkshire, South Western Scotland||106||+98|
|9||York, Yorkshire and Humber||15||+6|
|10||Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire, South Western Scotland||112||+102|
Table 2: Bottom Ten Regions in UK Quality of Life Index 2015
|2015 ranking||NUTS3 region||2013 ranking||Change in rank position since 2013|
|138||Bradford, Yorkshire and The Humber||95||-43|
|137||Kingston Upon Hull, City of, Yorkshire and The Humber||130||-7|
|136||North of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland||68||-68|
|135||Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Highlands and Islands||120||-15|
|134||West and South of Northern Ireland||59||-75|
|133||Blackpool, North West||117||-16|
|132||Devon CC, South West||86||-46|
|131||Central Valleys, West Wales and The Valleys||121||-10|
|130||East of Northern Ireland||39||-91|
|129||South Teesside, North East||93||-36|
Income – West London (Inner London West) retains the title of Britain’s richest region with average full time salaries of £35,464 and an average annual gross disposable household income (GDHI) of £39,602 – more than three times higher than disposable household incomes in Leicester (£11,739) and Nottingham (£11,757).
Employment – Liverpool has the lowest employment rate of any region in the UK at 59%, compared to 89% in the Orkney Islands and 82% in central Bedfordshire. Meanwhile, West London is the hardest working region in the country, with 41% working 45 hours a week or more, compared to 15% of those living in the Orkney Islands.
Living costs – Despite having the second lowest gross household disposable income in the country (£11,757), Nottingham city dwellers pay the highest council tax rate (£1,676 a year). Belfast pays the lowest rate of £819 a year, less than half that paid in Nottingham. However, people in Belfast are hit with the highest average energy bills of £1,850 a year, compared to bills of £1,209 in Scotland.
Crime – Edinburgh has the lowest rate of reported crime in the UK, followed by Powys in East Wales. Northern Ireland has the highest rates of reported crime, with Belfast the most crime-ridden region in the UK, followed by the East of Northern Ireland region.
Life expectancy – Women in Buckinghamshire have a life expectancy of 85 years old – compared to those in Glasgow with a life expectancy of just 78 and a half. Meanwhile, men in Surrey have a life expectancy of 81 and a half – compared to just 73 years old in Glasgow.
To see further data from the Quality of Life Index click here.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Edinburgh has long been a city that’s inspired; a vibrant city with striking architecture and a world famous festival, all surrounded by stunning scenery. Now it’s official – Edinburgh is the best place to live in the UK. With low crime rates, high wages and affordable living costs, it’s not just the history and cultural attractions that are drawing people to Scotland’s capital.
“And while Edinburgh sits proudly at the top of the spire, Scotland as a whole is the star performer, with its regions easily making the biggest climbs in the ranks this year. Contrast that with the biggest fallers in the rankings, the majority of which are regions in England.
“And spare a thought for the Yorkshire and the Humber region, which has earned the unenviable title of worst place to live in the UK, with Bradford and Hull rooted to the bottom of the Index.
“What this report reveals is the vast differences in the quality of life that many people across the UK are experiencing. Despite a buoyant UK economy, millions of people in this country aren’t feeling the benefits. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that it’s getting better for everyone out there. The reality is that millions of British households are still facing huge financial pressures, with wages barely covering higher living costs. And with talk of interest rates rising, any hope that those financial pressures might ease seems a forlorn one.
“It’s more important than ever that households take an honest look at their household budgets and see if there are savings that can be made. Simply by switching energy suppliers on a regular basis, hundreds of pounds could be shaved off the annual bill. Our quality of life is important and even minor changes could have a positive impact on our standard of living.”
For more information visit www.uSwitch.com or call 0800 093 06 07.