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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Life in the UK 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two years ago, the Office for National Statistics launched the Measuring National Well-being (MNW) programme. The aim is to ‘develop and publish an accepted and trusted set of National Statistics which help people understand and monitor well-being’. Traditional measures of progress such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have long been recognised as an incomplete picture of the state of the nation. Other economic, social and environmental measures are needed alongside GDP to provide a complete picture of how society is doing.

The Measuring National Well-being, First Annual Report on Measuring National Well-being provides a unique overview of well-being in the UK today. It is the first snapshot of life in the UK to be delivered by the Measuring National Well-being programme and will be updated and published annually.

The programme provides links with Cabinet Office, international developments, the public and other stakeholders. It also works closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the measurement of ’sustainable development’ to provide a complete picture of national well-being, progress and sustainable development.

Well-being is discussed in terms of the economy, people and the environment. Information such as the unemployment rate or number of crimes against the person are presented alongside data on people’s thoughts and feelings, for example, satisfaction with our jobs or leisure time and fear of crime. Together, a richer picture on ‘how society is doing’ is provided.

Meg commented:

“Looking at citizen’s wellbeing by developing National Wellbeing Measures is an important part of democratic governance and policy-making. I believe it is necessary for governments to look for new ways of measuring people’s wellbeing, and therefore improving our quality of life”

The Economy

During the first part of the millennium, incomes and GDP were rising and debt levels were rising slowly. The recession in 2008 led to a sharp fall in GDP and impacted on income and debt levels at both the national and household level. Real income has fallen as inflation has grown faster than incomes, and the public sector debt ratio has increased. GDP has started to recover, but at a slower rate than before the recession.

         Real household actual income per head (RHAI) in the UK grew from 16,865 to 18,159 between 2002 and 2008, before falling to near 2005 levels in 2011 (17,862).

         UK Public Sector Net Debt grew between 32.5% and 42.8% of GDP between 2003 and 2008 before rising to 65.7% in 2011.

         GDP per head increased during the first part of the millennium, fell by 6.1% between 2007 and 2009, before rising again between 2009 and 2011.


The recession has led to a higher proportion who are unemployed, with a particular impact on the young. In 2009/10 more than 1 in 8 (12.3%) of us were finding it quite or very difficult to manage financially.

Life satisfaction presents a more resilient picture, having remained broadly stable throughout the last decade. The most recent figures for those who report being somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their social life stand at 67% and job satisfaction stands at 77.8%.  Satisfaction with our family life averages 8.2 out of 10 (where 1 is very dissatisfied and 10 is very satisfied).

In terms of our health which is one of the most important influences on our wellbeing, our ‘healthy’ life expectancy has increased as has our overall satisfaction with our health.

         There has been a shift from employment to unemployment since the beginning of the recession, with the young being the worst affected. In Jun-Aug 2012 the UK unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 was 20.5% compared with 7.9% for those aged 16 and over.

         In the 2009/10 in the UK, 12.3% were finding it quite or very difficult to manage financially.

         In 2011, just over three-quarters (75.9%) of people aged 16 and over in the UK rated their overall life satisfaction at the medium or high level.

         Healthy life expectancy at birth in 2008-2010 was age 63.5 for males and 65.7 for females, in the UK, for males this is an increase of 2.8 years and for females, an increase of 3.3 years since 2000-02.

         In the UK in 2009/10, 68.3% were somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their health.

The Environment

Long term progress is being made with protecting our local and global environment. More than half of us visited our natural environment at least once a week in the 12 months prior to interview in 2011/12.

Nationally, the proportion of protected areas, including land and sea has increased. Globally, emissions and energy consumption have fallen and use of renewable energy has increased during the last decade.

         In England in 2011/12, over half of us visited our natural environment at least once per week in the 12 months prior to interview.

         The total extent of land and sea protected in the UK through national and international protected areas increased from 3.7 million hectares in 2005 to over 7.5 million hectares in 2011.

         Emissions of carbon monoxide, the most prevalent air pollutant, has more than halved since 2000.

         Use of renewable and waste sources more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 from 2.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) to 7.1 Mtoe.

To find out more visit: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/measuring-national-well-being/first-annual-report-on-measuring-national-well-being/index.html


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