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Suffolk's happiest places: St Edmundsbury and Babergh see the biggest jump in life satisfaction, according to Office of National Statistics




Life satisfaction is up across Suffolk according to the most recent Office for National Statistics survey.

The mean life satisfaction across the county was 7.77 in 2019/20 up from 7.57 in 2011/12 - scoring 0 is 'not at all satisfied' and 10 is 'completely satisfied'.

The areas with the highest mean scores were Babergh – which covers Sudbury , Hadleigh and Lavenham – with 8.24, St Edmundsbury with 7.83 and Mid Suffolk with 7.78.

Officials in Babergh said the score reflects the district's residents, businesses, heritage and 'natural beauty'.

Cllr John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council said: “It’s wonderful news that Babergh has been named as the best place for life satisfaction in Suffolk – and I’m proud of the role our council continues to play in helping its local community to thrive.

“The ranking is a testament to the people, businesses and communities who work tirelessly to make our district somewhere that everyone is proud to call home.

Aerial views of Bury St Edmunds from the top of Millennium Tower at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Picture by Mark Westley
Aerial views of Bury St Edmunds from the top of Millennium Tower at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Picture by Mark Westley

"This, combined with the area’s rich heritage and outstanding natural beauty, has resulted in well-deserved recognition for the quality of life on offer in Babergh."

Meanwhile, St Edmundsbury was the area with the greatest growth, up from 7.40 in 2011/12 to 7.83 in 2019/20.

Of the county's seven local authorities, none saw life satisfaction drop, although three saw just a slight rise – Forest Heath, Mid Suffolk and Waveney saw their mean scores increase by just 0.05 since 2011/12.

Forest Heath also recorded Suffolk's lowest mean score of 7.08 in 2013/14.

The district – which joined St Edmundsbury in April 2019 to form West Suffolk Council – also had the county's lowest score in 2019/20 with 7.55, although this was up on 2011/12's score of 7.50.

Elsewhere in the county, Ipswich saw its mean life satisfaction score increase from 7.39 in 2011/12 to 7.61 and Suffolk Coastal went up from 7.49 to 7.57.

The county as a whole was still ahead of the UK's national mean life satisfaction score of 7.66.

It should be noted that the highest and lowest scoring areas are not significantly different from the county average.

Local authorities tend to use these statistics to get an idea of whether resident wellbeing is better or worse then the year before - not to compare areas which have a variety of circumstances impacting life satisfaction.

The ONS figures show that Babergh also has the highest 2019/20 mean score in terms of feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile with 8.37, followed by Suffolk Coastal with 8.02. Forest Heath had the lowest mean score with 7.31, and the score for Suffolk as a whole was 7.91.

It was a similar story in the figures for happiness – with St Edmundsbury having the highest mean score for 2019/20 of 7.97, followed by Babergh of 7.86. The lowest score was found in Ipswich, with 7.24 – the county's score as a whole was 7.55.

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