Derry and Strabane rated worst areas in North to live

Lisburn has the highest quality of life in North’s local authorities

Lisburn has the highest quality of life among Northern Ireland's 11 local authority areas and Derry City & Strabane has the lowest, according to a new study.

An analysisby Belfast-based news website the Detail found differences between council areas across a wide range of headings, including education, employment, access to services and life expectancy, when it examined data for each local authority.

The research reveals how communities which have been disadvantaged for generations have continued to fall to the bottom of the league table despite nearly a decade of devolved government at Stormont.

Difficulties

In a bid to protect ratepayers who have been transferred under the local government changes from a council area with low rates into one with higher charges, a £30 million subsidy over four years has been applied to the bills of an estimated 300,000 homes. The scheme does not, however, bring the 11 councils in line with one another and the level of rates varies, with the bill on similarly valued homes 24 per cent higher in Derry & Strabane than in Lisburn & Castlereagh.

Although difficulties can be identified in all 11 councils, some unusual findings have emerged.

In Fermanagh & Omagh, the least populated council area, the best educational attainment scores at GCSE level were recorded. However, this does not appear to lead to future opportunities, as workers in the district have the third-lowest level of median annual earnings at just £17,435.

Local sources suggest that although the region is below average in terms of unemployment figures, this is because large numbers of young people move to areas of greater opportunity. Perhaps as a result, the district has the highest percentage of empty properties at 6 per cent.

Educational attainment differs significantly between the districts, with just 54 per cent of children in schools in Antrim & Newtownabbey and 59.6 per cent of those in Ards & North Down achieving five or more GCSE A*-C grades (including English and maths).

This compares poorly with the performance in Fermanagh & Omagh (71.8 per cent) and Newry, Mourne & Down (68.2 per cent).

Positive change

The findings are contained in the first report produced as part of a project called

Detail Data

, a partnership between the Detail and the

Northern Ireland

Council for Voluntary Action. Financed by the Big Lottery Fund, the project will use data analysis to help grassroots groups deliver positive change in communities and support the voluntary sector in its use of open data.

Read the full report on The Detail website.