Readers of this blog will have seen our post
that set out the key findings from the new The English Indices of Deprivation dataset. To continue the series, this article looks at the relative shifts in deprivation
across the country from 2010 (the last edition) to today.
Before we get to the headline findings, it is vital to understand the limitations of attempting to undertake such analysis.
**Here is the technical geekery that you may want to skip – if so, scroll down to the maps and charts!**
Firstly, the methodology has changed between 2010 and 2015 making absolute scores impossible to compare. Secondly, new variables are used (and irrelevant ones discarded) which may change the overall pattern and results. Thirdly, relative weightings and correlations within the index may have shifted which, again, makes direct comparisons treacherous. And finally, we have used local authority values which reduces the level of detail within areas compared to using Lower Super Output Areas (which will be the next blog).
However, there are things we can do in order to make a comparison. Importantly, the overall ethos of the index hasn’t changed which means we can feel confident in exploring relative Undertaking analysis on relativity can be done but we must be clear on what this shows – it shows how a particular area performs compared to all other areas in 2010, and then compares this relative position to their relative position in 2015.
From here we have two options – we can either use a simple ranking system of local authorities to show the change in positions between 2010 and 2015. Or we can standardise both the 2010 and 2015 data by using z-scores.
Z-scores effectively show how many standard deviations away from the mean each point is expressed as either a negative figure (i.e. the area is below the average value) or a positive figure (i.e. the area is above the average value). What we have done is used the overall IMD score of each local authority in 2010 to show how far away from the average they are and compared this to their relative result in 2015.
**So, with further delay, here are the results!**
Figure 1: Relative change in performance of local authorities between 2010 and 2015
Firstly, the change in relative performance varies quite a lot across the country (Figure 1). Indeed, London appears to have become (relatively) better off – particularly Greenwich, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Now, remember, it may not be that these areas have performed better itself (although parts may have) but that other places may have performed relatively worse. Interestingly, there are only eight local areas – four in the South East, two in London and one each in the East Midlands and South West – that have moved from being below the average in 2010 to being above average in 2015
There is also a marked difference in relative positions when we undertake the analysis by region within England. As Figure 2 shows, a large proportion of local authorities within London (76%) and the South East (64%) have improved (i.e. their position relative to the average has improved) while almost 80% of local authorities in the East of England have worsened.
Figure 2: Relative changes by local authorities in each region
What does this all mean? Well, a lot of factors are at play here. And, like all good research, it raises more questions than it answers. Are individual places actually improving or are other places getting worse? Has the change in methodology and variables skewed the results to show significant shifts between 2010 and 2015? Are places across the country well-equipped to deal with the challenges that deprivation brings?
However, the interesting point for me is how this may be affected by ongoing devolution. If places have more powers and budgets to solve local problems, can they improve their area and decrease deprivation? The degree to which they are able to achieve this will depend on a variety of factors, not least what could be potentially stated in the Autumn Statement and Spending Review later on this year.