04 March 2020

• Co-op Community Wellbeing Index reveals “worst” places to live outperform on key wellbeing areas

• Index provides insight to prioritise resources and drive positive change in every community

The “worst” places to live in the UK outperform other towns on key wellbeing areas, according to new data from a public barometer of community life set up by the Co-op.

The Community Wellbeing Index reveals a number of positive features of the UK’s so-called “failing towns” and provides an extra source of insight for local authorities, charities and individuals to better prioritise their resources to drive positive change within their community.

The Co-op’s Index enables people to go online and compare their community with 28,000 others across the country. It shows that every community in the country has its strengths as well as areas for development, despite the prevailing narrative of towns in decline.

All top ten towns and cities in a recent survey by iLiveHere of the so-called worst places to live in England score well over the UK average in several defining features of community wellbeing, including 'Education and Learning' (covering school access and quality, plus adult education facilities and libraries) and 'Transport, Mobility and Connectivity' (public transport, internet connections and speed) according to the Index. It reveals where the supposed “worst” towns outperform the UK average:

Town Measure Score UK Average
Peterborough Social Spaces 95 59
Doncaster Education & Learning 84 54
Huddersfield Museums, galleries, music halls and theatres 91 51
Rochdale Areas for leisure 90 61
Rotherham Green Spaces 87 36
Nottingham Museums, galleries, music halls and theatres 94 51
Keighley Transport, Mobility & Connectivity 77 50
Wakefield Social Spaces 90 59
Stoke-On-Trent Public Spaces 91 55
Halifax Education & Learning 88 54

The Co-op’s data shows all of the towns score well above the UK average for 'Public Transport', 'Public Spaces', 'Social Spaces', 'Green Spaces' and 'Areas for Leisure', with good levels of community outdoor and indoor space and numerous cultural activities that help people come together.

Nottingham, Keighley and Wakefield score very well for 'Health', meaning the towns have good access to health services. Huddersfield, Nottingham and Halifax have particularly high scores on community heritage and culture, which is fundamental to developing a sense of community belonging and shared history. Steve Murrells, Co-op CEO, said, “We’ve got to put to an end to this notion that there are “worst” places to live. It’s simply not right. Our Index shows that every single community in the UK has something going for it. We want communities everywhere to aspire and flourish. To achieve that they need to be heard and they need to be in control of their future. This is what “taking back control” has to look like if we’re to build a post-Brexit Britain that is more inclusive and more united.” “Whilst one third of communities have below average wellbeing, our Index offers invaluable information that can power greater cooperation among community leaders, local and national authorities, as well as individuals and businesses. Together we can improve every local community in the UK.”

Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of the social care enterprise Turning Point, Chair of the social enterprise Collaborate and Independent Non-Executive Director of the Co-op, said: “It is all too easy for places that are deteriorating to become victims of failing town syndrome and quickly descend into a spiral of decline. Once a town or city has been labelled an undesirable location this can become self-prophesising as locals express their negativity in damaging subjective surveys of the worst places to live.

“The Co-op’s authoritative Index shows that wellbeing is multi-faceted and everywhere has aspects of which it can be proud. These aspects are basis from which targeted investment can then made into the areas in need of more support. Approaching it from this basis provides the means for wellbeing to be improved locally, regionally and nationally in the years ahead”.

More than 30 charities and local authorities across the UK have used data from Co-op Community Wellbeing Index to prioritise decision-making, funding and resources to enhance the positive aspects within the community and tackle those in need of improvements.
Nancy Hey, Director of What Works Centre for Wellbeing, said: “Using robust measures and getting data to neighbourhood level - as the Index does - is an important step towards improving community wellbeing in an evidence-informed way’

The Co-op is now calling on government, local authorities, community groups and people who want to make a difference to use the online tool to better understand what’s important in different communities and the areas to focus action.

  • Ends - Media Enquiries: The Co-op Dave Smith Tel: 07702 152771

Headland Consultancy Fay Rajaratnam Tel: 020 3805 4862

Notes to editors

About the Community Wellbeing Index The Community Wellbeing Index, created in collaboration with the Young Foundation and Geolytix, is the first measure of wellbeing at a local level across all four nations of the UK. The Index was developed with input from people across the UK as well as Co-op members, who helped to identify the key themes that contribute to a sense of living well. Evidence, frameworks and measures that already existed within the field of wellbeing were also reviewed, and industry experts from academia, think tanks, local government and the third sector were interviewed. This research informed the measures that can now be seen within the Index.

The Index contains data for over 28,000 areas throughout the UK, representing areas that people should recognise as the local community where they live.

By entering a postcode, the Community Wellbeing Index will reveal a community’s overall well-being score and indicate its performance across nine specific areas including: education; health; equality; housing; employment and culture.

It is intended that the index will provide communities with an extra source of insight to help prioritise potential plans and initiatives to boost local wellbeing.

By bringing all this information together in one place, the Co-op, which has supported more than 16,000 local causes to the tune of £56m since it launched its new-look membership scheme in 2016, has produced a comprehensive, interactive index that can easily be accessed by everyone.

How the Community Wellbeing Index measures wellbeing: • Education & Learning: The availability of good, accessible, affordable services to help all ages make the most of education and learning opportunities. • Health: Access to good quality public, voluntary, and social care services that promote physical and mental health in the community. • Economy, Work & Employment: Services and infrastructure in place to promote a sustainable, ethical, inclusive economy that meets the needs of local people • Culture, heritage and leisure: Access to affordable and inclusive cultural and leisure activities, services and amenities which celebrate the diverse histories of people in the community. • Transport, mobility and connectivity: Access to affordable and sustainable transport and communication networks for everyone, especially those with disabilities. • Housing, Space & Environment: Affordable, secure, quality housing, a safe and clean surrounding environment, and well-kept, accessible and inclusive public spaces for people of all ages. • Relationships & Trust: The state of family, social and community relationships and the impact of any breakdown in trust on issues like crime. • Equality: Equal and fair opportunities for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion, colour, age, ability, sexuality, gender, income etc. Services and infrastructure in place to promote equality, equity and fairness. • Voice & Participation: Democratic governance and decision-making mechanisms in place to allow people to express themselves and take either individual or collective action to improve the local community and beyond.

Everyone can access the Community Wellbeing Index and better understand their local area by visiting: https://communitywellbeing.coop.co.uk/

About the Co-op: The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, legal services and health. It has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 1,000 funeral homes and it provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. It has more than 63,000 colleagues and an annual revenue of over £10 billion.