By LOUISE THOMASON
QUALITY of life is better in Shetland than anywhere else in Scotland, a new study claims.
Shetland has been ranked first in the third annual Bank of Scotland quality of life survey, which is based on factors such as employment, education, housing and average earnings, as well as burglary rates.
In the league table of local authorities, Aberdeen was ranked second, with Orkney fourth. Quality of life was rated worst in Glasgow, which came in at 32.
According to the study, Shetland has the highest employment rate in Scotland at 88.1 per cent and the best results for secondary education, with 90 per cent of pupils in secondary four achieving five results at level four or better.
The islands also enjoy good health, with 93 per cent of Shetlanders rating themselves as “in good or fairly good health”, and typically good pay, having the second highest average earnings in Scotland at £593 per week.
With these combined factors, including the third lowest rates of break-ins at five per 10,000 households, and the fact that houses sell at an average 24 per cent lower than the Scottish average, Shetland’s property offers the best value for money. This combination of quality of life and lower property prices has resulted in Shetland’s position in the table of the top 10 local authorities in Scotland.
Bank of Scotland chief economist Martin Ellis said: “People living in Shetland have the best quality of life in Scotland. Residents of Shetland tend to have higher than average earnings in Scotland as well as a high employment rate; they also have good health, the best education results in Scotland and suffer low burglary rates.”
SIC convener Sandy Cluness said he was “delighted with the results”, although they were not hugely surprising.
He said: “Most folk appreciate the quality of education and social care we have here. We have a very low crime rate and although house prices are starting to creep up they are still quite low. All in all it’s a fine place to stay.”
Professor John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde, however, pointed out that the survey may not give an entirely accurate result. He said: “Studies such as these are only a function of what you decide to measure and how you decide to look at them.”
Factors important to life quality such as mean temperature, mean wind speeds and hours of daylight during the winter were not included in the survey, which could give a skewed result.
Professor Curtice continued: “What a person values of course varies from person to person, someone who likes wide open spaces and the outdoors will of course be happy there, whereas if you want to spend every other night at the opera, you wouldn’t like it so much.”
Questions have also been raised as to the validity of the survey in that some of the data is not recent, much of it around seven years old. The “physical environment” factors for example, covering average annual rainfall and sunshine hours, are taken from an average of the period 1971-2000.