Children on Scottish islands 'have best quality of life'

Children living on Scotland's islands have the best quality of life among youngsters growing up anywhere in Britain, according to a report.

Halifax, which carried out the research, named the Orkney Islands, the Shetland Islands and the Western Isles as the places with the best quality of life for children.

It marks the second year in a row that these areas have claimed the top three spots in Halifax's annual Children's Quality of Life study.

The study looked at employment rates, average house sizes, school performance levels, population density and personal wellbeing to make the findings.

It found the Western Isles has the lowest population density in Britain, with just nine people per square kilometre - compared with the national average of 276.

The Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands also have a low population density, with 16 and 22 people per square kilometre respectively. The report said children can walk around in "relative freedom", with an average of 71 vehicles per square kilometre in the Western Isles, 142 in the Orkneys and 145 in the Shetlands, compared with an average of 9,587 across Britain.

And Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on personal wellbeing suggests adults in the Orkneys and Western Isles are among the happiest, most satisfied and least anxious in Britain.

But there is less good news for internet-loving youngsters - as between only 52% and 56% of households in the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Western Isles have access to fast broadband - significantly below the national average of 86%.

The research also named the local authority areas of South Oxfordshire, Ribble Valley in the North West of England and Chiltern in the South East of England as being among the top 10 places to raise a child. Monmouthshire in Wales was placed 21st in the overall rankings.

London did not fare particularly well in the study, with Merton, named as the place with the best quality of life for children in London, only coming 184th in the overall rankings. 

Martin Ellis, an economist at Halifax, said: "For the second year in succession the Orkney Islands, Shetlands and Western Isles occupy the top three spots in the latest annual Halifax Children's Quality of Life study. Children growing up in these areas benefit from low class sizes in both primary and secondary schools, with some of the highest spending per pupil and a high proportion gaining very good SCQF results.

"Children in these areas are supported by a high proportion of adults in full-time employment and many of them rate themselves highly in a recent personal wellbeing survey. On the flipside, provision of high-speed broadband is amongst the lowest in Britain."

:: Here are the top 10 local authority areas offering the best quality of life for children in 2016, followed by the country or region they are located in, according to Halifax:

1. Orkney Islands, Scotland 

2. Shetland Islands, Scotland 

3. Western Isles, Scotland 

4. Hambleton, Yorkshire and the Humber 

5. South Oxfordshire, South East 

6. Ribble Valley, North West 

7. West Somerset, South West 

8. Mole Valley, South East 

9. Chiltern, South East 

10. West Oxfordshire, South East 


Here are the local authority areas in each region with the best quality of life for children, according to Halifax, followed by their ranking overall:

:: Scotland, Orkney Islands, 1

:: Yorkshire and the Humber, Hambleton, 4

:: South East, South Oxfordshire, 5

:: North West, Ribble Valley, 6

:: South West, West Somerset, 7

:: East of England, St Edmundsbury, 16

:: West Midlands, Staffordshire Moorlands, 19

:: Wales, Monmouthshire, 21

:: East Midlands, Derbyshire Dales, 29

:: North East, Northumberland, 168

:: London, Merton, 184