Want to know where the happiest place to live in England is?
According to recent results from the Thriving Places Index, Wokingham scores second as the happiest place to live in the country. The assessment is based on three key areas; equality, local conditions and sustainability. Within these categories, 48 individual indicators (including education, work and health) are all evaluated to determine just how well councils are performing to create the ideal conditions required for communities to thrive.
Powered by the Happy City charity, the Thriving Places Index is a social compass measuring equitable and sustainable well-being with the results for 2017 now in.
Wokingham: The Happiest Place to Live?
Wokingham scored highly in several areas, but the report also identified some specific factors which require improvement.
In summary, Wokingham compares to its neighbours as follows:
|Element||Wokingham||Bracknell Forest||Reading||West Berks|
The best areas for equality in England were seen in Shropshire and Devon with Oxfordshire and Dorset scoring highly for sustainability. Overall, local conditions were ranked most highly in Wokingham.
So, what about the detail? What put Wokingham ahead of the pack for living conditions and what needs to be improved for 2018?
There are 17 indicators used on the Thriving Places Index to assess local conditions and Wokingham scored highly in all but four of these and ranked as the top authority in the country:
- Local environment (average)
- Transport (below average)
- Adult education (average)
- Culture (well below average)
Areas like housing, safety, mental health, employment and community cohesion were all assessed as being excellent.
Place & Environment
Wokingham came 5th in the country for this sub-category with the Wirral topping the charts. Bracknell Forest came in at the number two spot followed by Central Bedfordshire and Thurrock.
Despite scoring highly for safety and housing, the index was skewed by poor results for transport and the local environment. Wokingham was ranked as 19th from bottom for its poor transport assessment.
Work and Local Economy
Wokingham topped the charts in this sub-category with low unemployment figures, a high proportion of good jobs available and low levels of deprivation.
There is strong correlation between Work and the Local Economy with Mental & Physical Health and Wokingham scores well on both
Mental & Physical Health
Wokingham ranked second highest for this sub-category behind Richmond Upon Thames. The category takes into account a large number of factors, including:
- Life expectancy
- Obesity levels
- Overall health status
- Underage pregnancies
- Prevalence of depression, anxiety and suicide
- Physical activity
All aspects of these categories were ranked well in Wokingham.
People and Community
Wokingham scored one of the highest scores in the country for community participation at 9.81 out of 10. This is based on volunteering and voting and, combined with the cohesion scores, suggests a healthy community spirit in Wokingham which ranks it as the 4th highest rating in the country. Only Herefordshire, North Yorkshire and Cornwall ranked higher in the People and Community section.
However, Wokingham’s culture score is very low at 3.06, ranked as 13th from bottom. Wokingham could only really improve its standing in this assessment by climbing the RSA Heritage Index.
Education and Learning
Ranking 15th for Education and Learning which takes into account both adult and children’s education, Wokingham achieved an average score for this indicator.
The split between the two sectors was quite stark with Children’s Education ranking very highly with a score of 7.66 but with a very average rating of 5.42 for adult education. An increase in the number of adults who participate in training and education could improve this rating for 2018.
Split into three categories, the Thriving Places Index assessed the following to judge the happiest place to live in each of England’s local authorities, namely:
- Health Equality
- Income Equality
- Wellbeing Equality
Wokingham scored 7.87 for wellbeing, 5.96 for health and just 2.52 for income.
Produced by the Office of National Statistics, the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings showed a marked discrepancy in hours worked vs weekly earnings showing a significant inequality in the incomes of households across the borough.
Wokingham scored worst in the sustainability category which judges CO2 emissions, household recycling and energy consumption per capita. The latter two factors were judged to be below average and CO2 emissions average.
The borough scored lower than neighbouring authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading and West Berkshire for all three aspects.
The low recycling rates in Wokingham have long been a point of consternation for many council tax payers and the borough as introduced new measures in 2018 which should see these figures improved.
What’s the point of the Thriving Places Index
On the release of the 2017 figures, the founding director of the Happy City charity, said:
We are ten years on from an economic crisis that highlighted fatal flaws at the heart of our economy, yet we haven’t seen the systemic changes needed to tackle them.
Rising inequality and climate chaos are clear alarm bells that tell us the current system is no longer fit for purpose, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and come up with a model that measures what matters.
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.
The index highlights those areas that are key to supporting healthy and happy communities that enjoy equality in all aspects of life and local conditions. Since the reports were first produced in 2015, the index has identified both an urban/rural and a North/South divide.
It is hoped that the reports will help inform local authorities as to those areas where funding is best employed to deliver social, cultural and environmental equality.
Property Assistant, based in Wokingham, is a local estate agency providing first-class services for anyone currently living in, or looking to move to, the area. If you’d like to know more about whether Wokingham is the happiest place to live or are looking at moving to any town or city in the Thames Valley then contact us today for more information on our relocation services.
Featured image via Google Earth.