These ward level well-being probability scores present a single combined measure of well-being indicators of the resident population based on 12 different indicators. Users can change the weighting of each indicator depending on how important they see each measure. Scores over 0 indicate a higher probability that the population on average will experience better well-being according to these measures. The scores are presented on a map, as well as in tables and charts.
Following research by the Cabinet Office and Office for National Statistics, the government is aiming to develop policy that is more focused on ‘all those things that make life worthwhile’ (David Cameron, November 2010). They are interested in developing new and better ways to understand how policy and public services affect well-being.
It is important for London policy makers to consider well-being at a local level (smaller than borough level) because of the often huge differences within boroughs. Local authorities rely on small area data in order to target resources, and with local authorities currently gaining more responsibilities from government, this is of increasing importance. But small area data is also of interest to academics, independent analysts and members of the public with an interest in the subject of well-being.
The Office for National Statistics have been developing new measures of national well-being, and as part of this, at a national and regional level, the ONS has published some subjective data to measure happiness and life satisfaction. ONS have not measured well-being for small areas, so this tool has been designed to fill this gap. Data availability for small areas is far more limited than for districts, and this means the indicators that the scores are based on are not all perfect measures of well-being, though they are the best available. However, by using a relatively high number of measures across a number of years, this increases the reliability of the well-being scores.
Each neighbourhood will have its own priorities, but the data in this tool could help provide a solid evidence base for informed local policy-making, and the distribution of regeneration funds. In addition, it could assist users to identify the causes behind an improvement in well-being in certain wards, where examples of good practice could be applied elsewhere.
Some interesting findings:
- – With all indicators set to equal, Newington ward in Southwark has seen the most consistent year on year improvement in its well-being score over the past five years. At the other end of the scale, Mayesbrook ward in Barking and Dagenham has experienced the most consistent reduction in well-being scores over the same period.
- – And over the past year, the biggest improvement was in Fieldway ward in Croydon, while the biggest fall was in Queen’s Gate ward in Kensington and Chelsea.
- – In 2010, Knightsbridge and Belgravia in Westminster had the highest well-being score, while East India and Lansbury in Tower Hamlets had the lowest.
- – Every borough had a least one ward that was below the England and Wales average. Three boroughs had every ward below the national average (Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, and Newham).