How are we doing as a nation?

Well-being is the lens through which we view and understand impact at Intentionality. Therefore, we keep a keen eye out on the latest information and findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and other organisations to see what it tells us about ‘how we are doing’ as individuals, communities and as a nation, what has changed, and what social entrepreneurs can learn or respond to in order to make the biggest positive difference possible.

The ONS released the third annual summary of their Measuring National Well-being programme in March 2015 and we were excited to explore this document as it’s the first report to show how measures have changed over time, now that sufficient data is available.

Here are a few key points, along with a bit of commentary from us.

Compared with a year earlier, 33% (14) of 43 headline indicators of well-being had improved, 42% (18) showed no overall change, 21% (9) were not assessed and 5% (2) deteriorated. However, we feel it is a bit misleading to include the indicators that weren’t assessed, and if we look at only the 34 indicators that were assessed then 41% (14) improved, 53% (18) showed no change, and 6% (2) deteriorated. Overall, this is a pretty positive picture, with the nation’s well-being improving slightly across a wide range of measures over the last year.

However, over the last three years, this picture isn’t quite as positive with more indicators showing deterioration. Not including 13 measures (of the 43 indicators in this dataset) that weren’t assessed over the longer period, 40% (12) improved, 33% (10) showed no change, and 27% (8) deteriorated.

So, without speculating about the cause of the changes to well-being, what one area could social entrepreneurs focus on to make the biggest impact?

Health is probably the main one, with two of five (40%) of indicators deteriorating. Compared to 2010/2011, the percentages of people who are ‘completely satisfied’, ‘mostly satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied’ with their health has declined, while the proportion ‘mostly dissatisfied’ has nearly doubled from 6.4% in 2010/2011 to 12.4% and those ‘completely dissatisfied’ has risen slightly from 4.1% to 5.4% in 2012/2013. Wales and Scotland are the two areas with the smallest proportion of those who are ‘completely, mostly or somewhat satisfied’ with their health, with 56.8% and 56.4% respectively.

The percentage of people with some evidence indicating depression or anxiety has deteriorated (increased) too, although relatively modestly from 18% in 2009/2010 to 18.3% in 2012/2013 (although there are regional differences with the highest percentage being in London at 19.9% followed by Yorkshire and the Humber at 19.4%. The region with the lowest level is the south west).

We’re very keen to help social enterprises, big and small, to use these indicators and this data to help inform what they do, inspire new ideas, help track and quantify their own impact, and to help them tell a compelling story of change. It doesn’t need to be onerous, expensive or time-consuming. Do get in touch to find out more.