Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Commuter belt anxieties highlighted

People who live in the Scottish isles have report the highest levels of life satisfaction

Many of the most anxious people in Britain live in London's commuter belt, new figures suggest.

People who live in Reading, Slough, Milton Keynes and Brighton are among the most anxious in the country, new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed.

And Londoners themselves are also tightly wound up - with more than one in five (22.4%) reporting high anxiety levels.

The new ONS data on personal well-being also highlights that people living in Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands have the lowest levels of self-worth and life satisfaction.

People in the region are also unhappy - reporting the third lowest levels of happiness in the nation behind Bedford and Merseyside.

Dawn Snape, head of personal well-being at the ONS, said: "London has the most disposable income but very little life satisfaction and very high anxiety.

"Some of the (areas with high levels of anxiety) are commuter areas to London so it might be to do with the stress of the job."

Glenn Everett, director of measuring national well-being at the ONS, said that some of the factors affecting people living in the capital could be because of high-pressure jobs or mortgage problems.

He added: "And (it could be that) they have a stressful commute - it's a long commute from Brighton."

On the other end of the scale, the remote Scottish isles appear to be the happiest places to live in Britain.

People who live in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles report the highest levels of life satisfaction, self -worth and happiness across the whole of Great Britain, the ONS said.

Locals also have very low levels of anxiety, coming second in the table only to Dumfries and Galloway, the ONS said.

The data, which was collated by polling 165,000 people, also paints a picture of well-being across the UK.

ONS officials asked people to rate how satisfied they were with their lives, how worthwhile they felt their lives were, how happy they felt and how anxious they felt on a scale of zero to 10 - zero being "not at all" and 10 being "completely".

They found that the highest proportion of people who gave the top scores for life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness were in Northern Ireland.

England had the lowest proportion of people who gave themselves the top scores for happiness and life satisfaction.

Meanwhile, Scotland appears to be the most laid-back country - having the highest proportion of people who gave themselves very low anxiety scores.

The ONS report stressed that the reasons behind the local variations were "complex and not yet fully understood", but it says that the factors most associated with personal well-being were health, employment and relationship status.

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