Arundel, Louth and Edinburgh North have been identified as the districts with the strongest community spirit in Britain, according to the first national rankings of local communities.

They are among largely rural and village communities judged as fostering the friendliest and most cohesive spirit in a league table of 630 areas compiled by the Centre for Social Justice, the think tank founded by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Urban and city districts by contrast dominated the rankings for communities with the highest levels of loneliness and isolation.

The least community-spirited were the London constituencies of Feltham and Heston, Lewisham and East Ham, Livingston in Scotland, Manchester central, Hodge Hill and Ladywood in Birmingham and Luton South.

At the top for the most community spirited were Edinburgh North and Leith followed by Arundel and the South Downs, Louth and Horncastle, East Devon, North Norfolk, and Clacton.  Full details are available at this link.

Morning mist in the Meon Valley in the South Downs National Park

Credit: Luke MacGregor

The analysis, based on polling of 5,000 people in more than 630 areas covering all of Britain, found that more money did not seem to create strong communities: half of the areas that scored highest in the Community Index had below-average income levels.

Many areas with low average incomes had very strong communities and many of the highest-earning areas had very weak communities. Most of the top 10 ranking places are rural and semi-rural areas with small towns. 

The data found only 30 per cent of respondents felt that people in their area would help them during a difficult time, and close to a fifth feel their community has lost this sentiment in recent years.

The rankings are based on data including whether residents knew their neighbours, could walk around the community comfortably, were willing to help other local people in need, had opportunities to join charity projects and recreational clubs, and did not feel lonely or isolated.

Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of people felt loneliness and isolation were a problem in their community – with younger people in particular (20 per cent of 18-24-year-olds) saying the problem had got worse in recent years.

Young people also felt there was a lack of support around jobs, work experience, skills and training with 85 per cent of 18-34-year-olds feeling they could not get advice on opportunities and business ideas in their local area.