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Dave Beans

"what Makes Us Happy?"

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When a nationwide study was launched to determine how happy UK residents are and what is most important to us, the results were largely unsurprising. While parents said their priorities were their children, good health and a nice house, teenagers highlighted the most important things as mobile phones, The Only Way Is Essex, high heels and hugs.

As a result the findings of David Cameron's much-vaunted 'Well-being Index' were widely derided for being blindingly obvious. But now the green light has been given for the ONS to draw up its first life satisfaction index by asking 200,000 people to rate, on a scale of zero to 10, their satisfaction, happiness, anxiety and belief that what they do in life is worthwhile.

The ONS today vowed to press ahead and analyse the findings in an effort to tell politicians exactly how happy the nation is, with the first national well-being indicators set to be released in the autumn, followed by annual life satisfaction ratings in July 2012. More than 34,000 people responded to the £2m scheme ordered by the Prime Minister in November. Jill Matheson, from the Office of National Statistics, said today people had been 'definitely keen' to express their views on what makes life better.

Good health, family and friends were considered important across all segments of society. Perhaps surprisingly, money was not ranked as vital to a happy life. Striking a balance between work and home lives, spending time outdoors and taking part in cultural activities were also rated highly, along with having access to decent healthcare, education and transport. Those surveyed also revealed more specific examples of what made them happy.

One man said he would like to see better quality pies and chip butties, adding: ‘Cheese and tomato toasties, with ketchup on the side, white bread. Bacon sandwiches, actually sandwiches in general.’

Another urged the Government to provide ‘something half decent on TV'. Another said he enjoyed ‘looking at pretty girls’.

One contributor called for an end to the smoking ban, saying: ‘I would love to go out again and relax with a few pints and some cigarettes, relaxing with friends.'

Britain's first national well-being indicators will be published in the autumn, followed by annual life satisfaction ratings next July by which time 200,000 people will have been asked to rate how satisfied they are with their lives on a scale of one to ten. The well-being index is an alternative way to examine our quality of life in Britain compared to more traditional economic methods like GDP.

Launching the project last year, Mr Cameron said: 'If your goal in politics is to help make a better life for people - which mine is - and if you know, both in your gut and from a huge body of evidence, that prosperity alone can't deliver a better life, then you've got to take practical steps to make sure government is properly focused on our quality of life as well as economic growth, and that is what we are trying to do.'

Ms Matheson said today: 'The response to the debate was huge and thoughtful. 'The UK public were definitely keen to tell us what is important to them and I am pleased that we have been able to give so many people a place to discuss what national well-being means on both a personal and national level.

'People of all ages highlighted the importance of family, friends, health, financial security, equality and fairness in determining well-being.'

Edited by Dave Beans

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It's not just people. Particles do this too.

The trick is to be really quick looking down the microscope to catch them unawares.

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  • 338 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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