Borders’ best bits can’t be quantified says MSP

A quality of life study which has ranked the Borders as the ninth worst place to live in the United Kingdom has been rubbished by John Lamont MSP.

However,Mr Lamont has said that it does highlight some areas in which improvements are required.

The study, by comparison website uSwitch, looked at 24 different factors, including crime rate, life expectancy, income, broadband speed and hours of sunshine.

Eight out of the 10 worst areas are in Scotland, although Conwy and Denbighshire in Wales came bottom. Topping the table was Solihull.

Mr Lamont said: “This report is clearly wrong in stating that the Borders is one of the worst places to live in the UK.

“This is a fantastic region with a proud history and the many people who have chosen to live here will know that it is a great place to be.

“While this study takes several factors into account, there are some things that are simply not quantifiable. Our landscapes for example provide some of the most beautiful scenery that the UK has to offer, and the many fantastic towns and villages we have are unique to our area.”

He added: “This report does highlight some important areas which we need to improve in, such as improving broadband speeds and increasing average incomes.

“However, to suggest these aspects make us one of the worst places to live is simply ludicrous. There is so much more to the Borders than these statistics suggest and I sincerely hope that it does not put people off wanting to move to our area in years to come.”

A closer look at the figures also reveals some major issues, including the average sunshine hours figures.

Northumberland, which is ranked eighth in the study, is reported to have 1,423 hours of sunshine per year, compared to 1,175 for all Scottish regions.

In addition, figures for the percentage of full time workers working 31 to 48 hours per week is put down as 57 per cent for the Borders, with the percentage reported to be working over 49 hours a week also 57 per cent.

Another apparent anomaly is the method used to calculate the ranking, as the Borders beats Dumfries and Galloway in nine areas and loses out in only six, yet is ranked 10 places lower.

Commenting on the results, Michael Ossei from uSwitch, said: “This is hard evidence of the different challenges faced by people depending on where they live.

“Despite the uplift in the economy, British households are facing huge financial pressure as the cost of living continues to climb while take home pay stays stagnant.

“It’s clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to fixing the problems in our country, but there’s a lot that consumers can do to help themselves.

“By taking a hard look at our household budgets and cutting the cost of essential bills, we can influence our standard of living and improve our overall quality of life.”