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Mapping deprivation

Co-production models that ignore material inequalities risk failure 

Some communities are much better equipped than others to shape the area they live in and to use the new opportunities that the Localism agenda affords to co-design and deliver public services. Whether in terms of  human and financial capital or levels of volunteering and prevalence of voluntary organisations, it is the more affluent neighbourhoods and communities that have a head start. If we disregard this fact, the whole localist agenda could inadvertently exacerbate existing inequalities rather than closing the gap (for more on this, see references at bottom). 

That is why mapping levels of deprivation is so vital and I’ve given some suggestions below about how the map on income deprivation can be used. While this is publicly available information, government agencies have long had a reluctance to share and explain such information and how they use it. In part this is due to local political sensitivities but many will argue it is also because such information is dry and abstract and not readily amenable to layman’s language.

Neither is really an acceptable reason in the light of a Big Society Agenda that seeks to engage and involve the general public in the co-design and delivery of public services. 

What is income deprivation?

Income deprivation is one of seven dimensions or ‘domains’ of deprivation used by central government and local authorities. The Indices of Deprivation is used  to identify areas of high deprivation and allocate resources   for programmes such as regeneration, neighbourhood renewal, and grants to community groups. Bear in mind I have only mapped Income deprivation, there are six other domains. The seven ‘domains’ are:

  • Income Deprivation
  • Employment Deprivation
  • Health Deprivation and Disability
  • Education, Skills and Training Deprivation
  • Barriers to Housing and Services
  • Crime
  • Living Environment Deprivation.

Each of these can be mapped separately or you can map the Index of Multiple Deprivation which is a separate table of data that combines all the above domains. This is publicly available information and you can find it on the Department of Local Communities and Governmentwebsite.


Why are some areas more deprived than others?

Patterns of labour and residential mobility are the most important process producing local concentrations of deprivation and these patterns can persist for extended periods of time – even in times of economic boom. Try clicking on some of the most deprived areas (in red) and compare the decile range for years 2007 and 2010.


How up to date is this information?

While the data for 2010 is based on data captured in 2008, it is unlikely much will have changed, particularly given the current recession. If you have clicked on some of the dark red areas of the map which indicate decile 10 (the most deprived areas in England), you will see that many of these areas remain in the same decile for both years (2010 and 2007)


How can this information be applied?

This information is a useful starting point and reference tool for any co-design initiatives that you are looking to develop and I have given a range of suggestions below.

The attached map and slideshow are both embeddable in a blog or website. You could then give a local context in a blog or article depending on local concerns or current project initiatives

Use the heat map on income deprivation to find data on your local area 

While I’ve developed heat maps for my local area, this is my first stab at developing a heat map showing income deprivation across England. There is a lot of information on here so you may have to wait a few seconds for it to load. Refresh the browser if it hasn’t done so in thirty seconds.

I’ve done this using Google Fusion. Zoom into your area then click on the map to get a pop-up box containing the map legend and additional information showing what decile of deprivation your area falls in for years 2007 and 2010; for example if your area is in decile 10, it means it is in the bottom 10 per cent, or the 10% most deprived areas in England. By contrast decile 1 means it is in the least deprived areas.)

Use the embeddable link to grab the html code to embed in the <body> section of your website.

The slideshow goes into a little more detail and you are free to embed both the slideshow and the map in your blog or website and write up a local context to whatever you are trying to do. Some suggestions are:


  • Use it as baseline information for a funding application
  • To target scarce resources at the neighbourhood level as part of a community project or enterprise you are developing
  • As a campaign and awareness raising tool which looks at financial exclusion, child poverty or high debt levels in your area (or combine it with separate stats on child poverty in your area)
  • Share it with hyperlocal websites in your area and try and get a conversation going (check out openly local directory of local websites if you are not sure who is in your area)
  • Share it with local housing associations: around half of all households live in social housing in the least affluent decile (decile 10). Social Housing Landlords are also much nearer to the ground than local authorities and speak the language of co-design and co-production more readily than local authorities.  While they will have this kind of data on their own mapping applications, these maps are often not publicly available
  • Form networks and connections between areas of deprivation and affluence. This map could be used in tandem with a second map which plots community resources and groups your area. The RSA is doing a lot of action research on social networks and social capital and how re-connecting socially excluded groups open up such groups to new values, behaviours, information and ideas. At the same more affluent communities and individuals may learn much more about the wider community in which they live – including the lives of others who cope with multiple problems of a kind they never knew existed.


Whatever you do, I strongly urge you to put it in a blog or local website. If you share it by email, emails eventually get lost or deleted. Stick it on a website and it stays there. It is much harder for certain public sector agencies and politicians to ignore tough data and hope the conversation dies off when the data is just one click away.

Gavin Barker, January 2012



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Phil Green Comment by Phil Green on January 19, 2012 at 10:25am

To get the embed code:
Map: go to larger version of the map, drag using the cursor till the map is centred where you want, then click on 'get embeddable link' (last link from the left in the bar just above the map)
Slideshow: click on the link just under this page's heading, and then fourth link from the left in the bar across the top of the slideshow

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