In Depth

The happiest and least happy places to live in the UK

Residents of Ribble Valley in Lancashire now have even more reason to smile

The quiet, rural district of Ribble Valley in Lancashire has been named the happiest place in the UK by a new government report.

On Thursday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its annual “Personal well-being in the UK” study, in which thousands of people aged 16 and up were asked to respond to the question “how happy did you feel yesterday?” on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”.

Ribble Valley, which contains the market town of Clitheroe, came out on top with an average happiness rating of 8.30, narrowly beating a group of close contenders. The rest of the top five was the Orkney Islands (8.29), Chichester (8.29), Hambledon (8.19) and Fylde (8.18).

The average rating for the whole of the UK was 7.56.

Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, told The Guardian: “It’s a place where families enjoy a great work-life balance, an active outdoor life in commutable distance to work, good schools and some of the country’s finest universities, so we’re not surprised that residents of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley are amongst the happiest in the UK.”

The ONS data made for bleaker reading in the neighbouring district of South Ribble, which came in second-bottom in the entire country with a happiness rating of just 7.02. The only district with a worse happiness rating - and the only one below 7 - was Surrey Heath, Michael Gove’s constituency, on just 6.71.

Here’s a rundown of the five happiest and least happy places in the UK:

Happiest
  1. Ribble Valley: 8.30
  2. Orkney Islands: 8.29
  3. Chichester: 8.29
  4. Hambleton: 8.19
  5. Fylde: 8.18
Least happy
  1. Surrey Heath: 6.71
  2. South Ribble: 7.02
  3. Lincoln: 7.09
  4. Worcester: 7.14
  5. Norwich: 7.15
Other results

The “Personal well-being in the UK” report from the ONS did not take only happiness into account in order to calculate people’s well-being, but also their anxiety level, life satisfaction level and whether or not they feel the things they do in their lives are worthwhile.

According to the statistics, the district in the UK with the highest anxiety levels was also Surrey Heath. Out of ten, residents of the district said on average that they had an anxiety rating of 3.92. Other districts in the top five included Melton (3.79), Epsom and Ewell (3.69) and the London boroughs of Lambeth (3.67) and Kensington and Chelsea (3.63). The least anxious place in the UK is the market town of Fareham (1.75) in Hampshire.

In the life satisfaction ratings, the Lancashire district of Fylde came out on top with 8.45 out of 10, followed by Orkney on 8.40 and Na h-Eileanan Siar - also known as the Outer Hebrides - on 8.26. Bottom of the life satisfaction rankings is the Northamptonshire town of Corby (7.20).

And finally, South Derbyshire was the district that received the highest rating when its citizens were asked whether they feel the things they do in their lives are worthwhile, getting a mark of 8.46 and just beating West Devon and North West Leicestershire, on 8.43 and 8.39 respectively. The lowest-rated district in this category was Adur in West Sussex on 7.39.

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