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.
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:
- 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.
Figure 1: Indices of Deprivation by Local Authority
Table 1: The 20 Most Deprived and Least Deprived Local Authorities in England
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
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.
 IMD is compiled using Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) LSOAs are small areas of relatively even size containing approximately 1,500 people
 Based on the rank of average rank