The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 (IMD 2010) is used very widely to target programmes and resources to tackle inequality and deprivation – below I set out my thoughts on why the Indices of Deprivation are still important, despite the wealth of data now being released by government (but of course has its limitations which I have also covered).
The Indices of Deprivation attempt to measure a broad concept of ‘multiple deprivation’, made up of several distinct dimensions, or domains, of deprivation. The data is based on 38 separate indicators across seven domains: Income, Employment, Health and Disability, Education Skills and Training, Barriers to Housing and Other Services, Crime and Living Environment. As well as the overall IMD 2010 and domains, data for the underlying indicators has also been published.
Commissioned by CLG from the Social Disadvantage Research Centre at Oxford University, the Indices of Deprivation are an update of previous datasets in 2007, 2004 and 2000. The full datasets and technical report are available, see links at the end of this article.
It is true that the data landscape has changed massively since the last IMD was published in 2007, with thousands of new datasets available through data.gov.uk, the London Data Store , our own Data4nr and many others.
However, along with the Census, the IMD is a key dataset for targeting services to help tackle deprivation. The IMD provides a single overview indicator of how all English areas compare on levels of deprivation (separate measures are available for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Also, the same methodology has been used in South and Southern Africa by the Oxford University team responsible for the IMD).
Government programmes – both national and local – aiming to tackle deprivation often use the IMD to target funding to the most deprived areas – put simply, there is no other robust indicator that captures the wealth of issues covered by the IMD. The Oxford University team has identified that as much 1% of all government spending was allocated using the IMD. Although this analysis is now a few years old (I’d be very interested if anyone has looked at this more recently), there are some striking examples of where the IMD has been used to target government resources:
The bottom-line is that the IMD is an important measure of how local areas compare with others on a comprehensive basket of deprivation indicators – so provides a key input to understanding “need” for service commissioning.
Although the IMD 2010 and other datasets published today are an important piece of the data puzzle, there are limitations:
We’ve been hard at work providing the data and visualisations to our Data Packs users and identifying the headline national and local messages. For further analysis of the Indices and other key social and economic data, please get in touch!
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