‘Left-behind’ areas




‘Left-behind’ areas

Local Trust and OCSI developed a quantitative measure of left-behind areas using open data, including developing a Community Needs Index for the first time.

The resulting report ‘Left behind? Understanding communities on the edge’ suggests that deprived areas, when combined with the absence of places to meet, the lack of an engaged community and poor connectivity, fare worse than other deprived areas.

Community Needs Index

The Community Needs Index focuses on the social and cultural factors that can contribute to poorer life outcomes in communities. This gives a different perspective to more economically based measures of local need. 

This is a useful measure in and of itself, to help policy makers target investment in social infrastructure. 

The Index is available at ward level and covers 19 indicators across the domains of:

  • Civic assets: Presence or absence of key community, civic, educational and cultural assets in and in close proximity to the area
  • Connectedness: Connectivity to key services, digital infrastructure, isolation and strength of the local jobs market
  • Engaged communities: Civic, third sector and community participation of the local population and barriers to participation and engagement 

The Community Needs Index is available to users of Local Insight.

Choropleth map of the Community Needs Index around Norwich.
Map showing the location of 'left-behind' areas in North East England

Identifying ‘left-behind’ areas

To identify areas that could be defined as left-behind we focused on the areas that suffered the dual disadvantage of

  1. High levels of deprivation and socio-economic challenges
  2. Lacking in the community and civic assets, infrastructure and investment required to mitigate these challenges.

We identified the areas that were ranked in the worst ten percent in both the Community Needs Index and Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2019This showed there were 206 left-behind wards in England. They have a combined population of 2,193,000 people – almost 4% of people in England. 

The research shows concentrations of left-behind areas in housing estates outlying big towns and cities, such as Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Hull and Stoke, as well as in post-industrial areas in northern England and coastal areas in southern England. 

Read full analysis

APPG on ‘left-behind’ neighbourhoods

The research contributed to the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for ‘left-behind’ neighbourhoods.

The APPG is a cross-party group of MPs and Members of the House of Lords. Dame Diana Johnson DBE MP and Paul Howell MP co-chair the group.

It is committed to improving social and economic outcomes for residents in communities that suffer from a combination of economic deprivation, poor connectivity, low levels of community engagement and a lack of community spaces and places.

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