Quality of life better, but waste increases

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Poverty, unemployment and some pollution down, but robbery, road traffic volumes and waste all up – those were among the mixed results from Britain's third annual "quality of life barometer", issued by the Government yesterday.

Poverty, unemployment and some pollution down, but robbery, road traffic volumes and waste all up – those were among the mixed results from Britain's third annual "quality of life barometer", issued by the Government yesterday.

The barometer, officially the sustainable development indicators, show 15 main measures in the economic, social and environmental areas, according to which improvement or decline in living quality throughout Britain can be indicated.

Taken as a whole, the results suggest that life in Britain is getting better, with nine of the 18 indicators and their sub- divisions coming up as improving. These include economic output, employment, poverty and social exclusion, housing conditions, theft from vehicles and domestic burglary, climate change, woodland bird numbers and land use.

Five are shown as not changing since last year – investment, education, health, air quality and the low position of farmland birds.

Three are shown as getting worse – street robbery, waste and total road traffic volumes.

Connoisseurs of Whitehall creative imagination will be fascinated to see, however, that in the road traffic sector a new sub-indicator has been created – road traffic intensity, which is the amount of road traffic generated per unit of GDP. As the economy has been booming in the past few years at a faster rate than traffic has been growing, this new indicator can cleverly be shown as improving, even though traffic volumes continue to rise inexorably.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the indicators showed the UK was making progress on achieving a better quality of life through sustainable development, but that we all still had a lot to do.

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