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A first look at the 2015 Indices of Deprivation
We have all seen the headlines that indicate that the ‘gap’ is growing – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but what does this really mean for communities across the country?
While deprivation is commonly associated with financial shortfalls or low incomes, this only provides part of the picture.
Today, the Department for Communities and Local Government published the latest version of the English Indices of Deprivation including the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). Last published in 2010, the IMD 2015 is the fifth release of this widely recognised and utilised statistical series which measures multiple forms of relative deprivation at the small spatial scale[1].
Within the IMD, deprivation is related to a broad range of factors which can influence an individual’s living conditions. Specifically, seven distinct ‘domains’ are considered and applied varying weight to measure deprivation, including:
  • Income;
  • Employment;
  • Health deprivation and disability;
  • Education, skills and training;
  • Barriers to housing and services;
  • Crime; and,
  • Living environment.
The statistics are intended as a measure of deprivation, not affluence.
Summary measures for the 326 local authorities nationally are also provided within the release. Presenting the data at the local authority level obviously loses the granularity of the analysis possible at a more local (Lower layer Super Output Area) (LSOA) level as it assumes that deprivation is evenly spread across a local authority. In reality it is much more complex and there are different patterns of deprivation within local authority areas (deprivation at LSOA level will be explored in further detail in subsequent blog posts). Figure 1 shows the spatial variations across the country while Table 1 identifies the 20 most deprived and least deprived local authorities[2].
Figure 1: Indices of Deprivation by Local Authority

Source: DCLG, English Indices of Deprivation (2015)/ NLP analysis

Table 1: The 20 Most Deprived and Least Deprived Local Authorities in England

Source: DCLG English Indices of Deprivation (2015)/ NLP analysis

On this broad measure (rank of average rank), Manchester ranks as the most deprived local authority in England. Interestingly, four of England’s ‘Core Cities’ (Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham) feature among the most deprived areas nationally, alongside six London Boroughs. It is apparent that communities are more likely to be deprived in urban local authority areas than rural areas, for example Rushcliffe ranks among the least deprived local authorities despite being situated adjacent to Nottingham which features among the most deprived areas.
This trend is confirmed by considering the least deprived local authorities; no cities feature within this top 20 ranking. Hart District in Hampshire ranks as the least deprived local authority nationally.
Figure 2 shows the proportion of local authorities that fall within the top 20% most deprived areas nationally (expressed as a proportion of the number of local authorities within that region). It shows that, in general terms London and the North East have the greatest concentrations of deprived areas, while the South West, South East and East of England have relatively fewer deprived areas.
Figure 2: Proportion of Deprived Local Authorities by Region within 20% Most Deprived Local Authorities
Source:       DCLG, Indices of Deprivation (2015)/ NLP analysis

Source: DCLG, Indices of Deprivation (2015)/ NLP analysis

So how can this data be applied?
Within a socio-economic and regeneration context, it is clear that the Indices of Deprivation represents an invaluable resource, enabling the identification of areas with high levels of deprivation or areas where specific issues are concentrated (e.g health issues, barriers of access to housing and services). This information allows us as planners to:
  • identify areas most in need of regeneration;
  • formulate an evidence base for justifying the need for development;
  • provide a baseline for the assessment of impacts of development; and,
  • assist in making a case for the allocation of government funding opportunities.
This blog is the first in a series on our analysis of the 2015 Indices of Deprivation. More maps and charts are available on ourTwitter feed.
[1] IMD is compiled using Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) LSOAs are small areas of relatively even size containing approximately 1,500 people
[2] Based on the rank of average rank
The thrust of national planning policy for town centres is not proposed to change, but there are some important, logical, modifications.  For example, the changes proposed to the sequential test acknowledge that a suitable town centre site might be in the development pipeline.  And the requirement to allocate sufficient land for town centre uses to meet need for least ten years, but not the entire plan period, reflects the difficulties in long term forecasting and the complexities of bringing forward town centre development sites.  There is no mention of the need to disaggregate out of centre proposals – an informative omission that reflects recent case law

Simon Coop, Planning Director


The urban success story hidden behind the latest UK Travel to Work Areas
The ONS recently released the latest UK Travel to Work Areas, modelled using data from the 2011 Census – a staple for all local economy experts.
Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs) are developed to show areas where most people both live and work, hence areas in which most of the commuting occurs within their boundaries. In practice, they consist of lower layer super output areas grouped together ‘in such a way that most workers living in an area also work in the same area and most people who work in an area also live there’.
While defining them proves to be a lengthy statistical and convoluted exercise, TTWAs draw an interesting and important picture of the UK’s labour market dynamics.
Figure 1: UK 2001 and 2011 Travel to Work Areas – ONS Geography
(see a bigger version of the 2001 map and the 2011 map)
First, there are 15 fewer TTWAs in the 2011 edition compared to 2001. As a consequence, their average size has increased. This is in line with a long-standing trend that has seen the number of TTWAs steadily decline since 1981 (there were 334 in 1981, 308 in 1991, 243 in 2001 and 228 in 2011).
A combination of variables could potentially be at play here, for example, better transport links, stronger town centres, higher house prices in urban areas and Green Belts displacing urban sprawl. Do fewer-and-larger TTWAs mean that people have to travel more to get to work or do they simply reflect a personal choice?
Crucially, strong inferences made purely on the basis of TTWAs can be dangerous and misleading. For example, people may be being displaced due to unaffordable housing or constraining planning obligations or because they are choosing to live further afield now that transport has improved.
Secondly, a quick look at the 2011 map suggests that London’s employment reach has shrunk since 2001. At the same time, the 2011 London TTWA has grown in absolute terms in both the number of residents in work and the number of jobs. Unsurprisingly, the capital city’s gravitational pull on its surroundings is powerfully stark.
London’s apparent geographical contraction – despite its growth in employment numbers – is easily explained. To determine a TTWA, 75% of the workers in an area need to be living in that area. However, this criterion can be relaxed and reduced to 66.7% in areas with at least 25,000 resident workers, in order to restrain “the size of the largest TTWAs and in particular the one centred on London”. In fact, as visible below, all of London’s neighbouring TTWAs (except Cambridge) were determined following the relaxed criterion.
Figure 2: Share of employed residents who work locally, London – NLP analysis
In fact, the same applies to Manchester, which since 2001 has also increased its employment footprint by expanding westwards into the TTWAs of Bolton and Rochdale & Oldham.
Figure 3: Share of employed residents who work locally, Manchester – NLP analysis
And Newcastle…
Figure 4: Share of employed residents who work locally, Newcastle upon Tyne – NLP analysis
While on the face of it relaxing one of the criteria does not seem that contentious, it actually leads to underestimations of the significant pull of urban economies across the UK.
However, regardless of this methodological issue, TTWAs have the power to start a conversation about appropriate and functional economic areas. For example, as individual TTWAs grow and councils’ finances shrink, should public money be spent and administered in the areas where the majority of people live and work (i.e. travel to work areas)? To what extent could this contribute to the case made in the decentralisation agenda?