William Eichler 19 February 2018

Key factors for making local area ‘thrive’ revealed

Key factors for making local area ‘thrive’ revealed image

A Bristol-based charity launched a new report today into the key factors that make up a ‘thriving’ local area - and it goes beyond a narrow focus on gross domestic product.

GDP is the traditional way of measuring development in a country, region or city. It is a monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced within a given period.

However, it has been criticised for being a very narrow way of assessing development. At last month’s World Economic Forum, for example, the economist Diane Coyle criticised its disregard for environmental impacts.

Oxfam also published a report recently which revealed that 82% of all the wealth created in 2017 went to the top 1% of earners.

The Bristol charity Happy City has published a comprehensive analysis into how well local authorities are doing at creating the conditions needed for people to thrive.

The Thriving Places Index goes beyond GDP and argues thriving places require investment in a range of areas, including mental and physical health, work and the local economy, education and learning opportunities, the qualities of the place and its environment, and the connections between people and community.

It assesses data from 150 councils in England against three main categories: local conditions, sustainability, and equality. These are supported by 48 separate indicators including health, education, and work.

Overall it revealed stark divides between the North and the South, and between urban and rural areas.

It found the North East was the lowest performing for local conditions and sustainability, as well as the second lowest for equality. It also found all 11 local authorities with the lowest scores for local conditions are urban.

Three local authorities in the South East of England - Wokingham, Buckinghamshire and Surrey - top the table for local conditions. London boroughs Tower Hamlets, Newham and Luton form the top three for sustainability.

However, Bath & North East Somerset is the highest scoring local authority overall as the only area to achieve an above average score for all three main indicators.

‘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,’ said Liz Zeidler, founding director of Happy City.

‘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.’ Link: https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/hcindex-files/docs/THRIVING_PLACES_INDEX_FULL_REPORT_FINAL.pdf

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