This report has been updated in November 2017 to include an attribution to the Warwick-Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale.
Local Wellbeing Indicators use existing data and the best research to show true picture of local residents’ lives and community wellbeing. Indicators look at personal relationships, economics, education, childhood, equality, health, place and social relationships- currently no local authority uses all of this data in one place to meet local needs.
This report presents a new Local Wellbeing Indicator set for local authorities, public health leaders and Health & Wellbeing boards. In 2011, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) introduced a Measuring National Wellbeing programme, to inform national decision-making.
This new set is intended to meet the need for a practical local translation of that programme, helping to inform local decision-makers so they can better understand the wellbeing of their constituents, and how they can act to improve it. The set is the product of a six-month scoping project co-commissioned by the ONS and Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing and Happy City.
As well as proposing an ‘ideal’ set of Local Wellbeing Indicators, we also propose a ‘currently available’ set recognising that some of the indicators we propose in the ideal set are not yet available at the local authority level.
Our final framework comprises two indicator sets: The ‘ideal’ set is based on a core of 26 indicators of individual wellbeing and its determinants. We have also produced a ‘currently available’ set containing 23 indicators. We also include recommendations for additional ‘deeper dive’ support indicators that provide more detailed insight in specific areas and contexts.
Our starting point for the project was the Happy City Index – a set of around 60 indicators of individual wellbeing in eight domains developed by Happy City and the New Economics Foundation in 2016. The Happy City Index was developed to respond to slightly different requirements, but provided a ‘straw-man’ version to put out for consultation.
We consulted with individuals in 26 different organisations, including nine city councils, seven county or district councils, the three devolved governments (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), and nine other organisations including the LGA, Defra, The Health Foundation and the New Economics Foundation. Respondents were asked about their needs and potential uses for wellbeing data and frameworks, and for feedback on version 1 of the indicator set.
Respondents were broadly satisfied with the original version 1 framework. For the final version, the consultation feedback informed by a literature review resulted in an adapted framework with seven domains: Personal wellbeing, Equality, Health, Education and childhood, Economy, Social relationships and Place. As well as providing input regarding the individual indicators in version 1, respondents also identified gaps which we sought to fill in the final version. The consultation also allowed us to develop a set of criteria with which to assess individual indicators and the indicator set as a whole. See box 1 for more details from the consultation.
Based on a desire from respondents for the indicator set to be more strongly and uniquely a ‘wellbeing’ set, we conducted a brief review of reviews to summarise the key determinants of (subjective) wellbeing (see box 2 for further detail), to help us develop a more coherent set.
Figure 1 presents the structure of the final framework for both the ‘ideal’ and ‘currently available’ sets, which is built around seven domains (personal wellbeing, economy, education and childhood, equality, health, place and social relationships).
Figure 1: Framework
Each domain consists of several sub-domains – there are 26 in total (see Figure 2). We have identified one ‘ideal’ indicator for each sub-domain. In 11 cases, this indicator is not currently available at the local authority level – in most of these cases we propose an alternative indicator which is widely available at present to create a ‘currently available’ set. Furthermore, we propose a further 37 additional indicators across the sub-domains, for when more in-depth, nuanced understanding is required.
Firgure 2. Indicators and sub-domains
Of the 26 ideal indicators, 11 are objective, 14 are subjective and one (healthy life-expectancy) is a combination. Five of the subjective indicators are direct measures of personal wellbeing. Amongst the other indicators, there are some that are part of the traditional understanding of deprivation, such as unemployment and material deprivation, but also factors which are less typically considered by policy and which reflect the wellbeing driven focus, including frequency of social contact, participation in cultural activities, and use of green space.
This set aims to provide a balanced, holistic picture of wellbeing and its determinants, giving decision-makers and practitioners an invaluable overview of their communities.
For further analysis and recommendations for next steps download the full report.