Edinburgh is 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.
Low crime rates, affordable living costs, high average salaries and fast broadband all contribute to Edinburgh’s position at the top, the comparison website firm said.
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 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.
Meanwhile, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: “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.”