Guest blog: Understanding The English Indices of Deprivation 2019, MHCLG

22 January 2020

“The majority, 88 per cent, of neighbourhoods that are in the most deprived decile according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 were in the same decile based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015, as were 84 per cent of the least deprived. This helps to underline that deprivation in some areas is persistent and longstanding.”

In our latest guest blog, Bowie Penney, Statistician, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, reviews the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) English Indices of Deprivation 2019 (IoD2019) and what they show.


Since the 1970s the MHCLG and its predecessors have calculated local measures of relative deprivation in England. Deprivation is nuanced and multifaceted - people may be considered to be living in poverty if they lack the financial resources to meet their needs, whereas people may be regarded as deprived if they lack any kind of resources, not just income. This extends to diet, housing, education, work and social conditions, for example.

In September, MHCLG published the English Indices of Deprivation 2019 (IoD2019), the latest iteration of these statistics - The release is a designated National Statistic, considered the gold standard of Government analytical outputs, meaning it meets the highest levels of trustworthiness, quality and value for users.

For those unfamiliar with this dataset, there are some key concepts to be clear on from the outset. The IoD2019 provides the most complete place-based insight into deprivation at the neighbourhood-level. It is a relative measure, ranking all 32,844 lower-layer super output areas (LSOAs) in England. LSOAs are a statistical geography created as part of the 2011 Census, each comprising an average population of 1,500 people, roughly the same as a postcode. Finally, the Indices are designed to identify areas with relatively high levels of deprivation. The Indices are not a measure of affluence or of any absolute change in deprivation over time.



The methodology follows on from previous releases, retaining the same model of multiple deprivation and utilising data inputs from the most recent time points where possible. More specifically, the IoD2019 is based on 39 separate data sources, termed indicators, organised across seven distinct domains of deprivation – income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing, and services and the living environment. The majority of these are sourced from administrative data across Government. The seven individual domains are then combined and weighted to calculate the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 (IMD2019) – the official measure of relative deprivation in England. Supplementary indices measuring income deprivation affecting children (IDACI) and older people (IDAOPI) are also created. In total, the IoD2019 comprises ten separate indices of deprivation (see graphic below).


As a resource, the Indices feed in to a wide array of analytical work across Government and beyond – from community integration projects and models for public service funding allocation, to policies for improving local areas, highlighting disparities and identifying how these might be addressed. At a local level, the indices also provide a clear, consistent, and accessible tool to assess relative deprivation at a variety of geographic scales, enabling local stakeholders to identify priorities for improvement and work with communities to generate local solutions.



Across England, the patterns of deprivation are complex with the most and least deprived neighbourhoods being spread throughout the country. The IoD2019 reveals concentrations of deprivation in large urban conurbations, areas that have historically had large heavy industry manufacturing and/or mining sectors (such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Hartlepool), coastal towns (such as Blackpool or Hastings), and parts of east London. There are also pockets of deprivation surrounded by less deprived places in every region of England.

The most deprived neighbourhood in England according to the IMD2019 is to the east of the Jaywick area of Clacton on Sea (Tendring 018a). This neighbourhood was also ranked as the most deprived nationally according to the IMD2015 and IMD2010. Areas in Blackpool then account for eight of the ten most deprived neighbourhoods, with the Anfield area in the centre of Liverpool (Liverpool 019C) making up the ten most deprived neighbourhoods in England.

The majority, 88 per cent, of neighbourhoods that are in the most deprived decile according to the IMD2019 were in the same decile based on the IMD2015, as were 84 per cent of the least deprived. This helps to underline that deprivation in some areas is persistent and longstanding. For example, there are five neighbourhoods which have been ranked among the most deprived 100 LSOAs on each Index of Multiple Deprivation update since 2004. Two of these are located in Liverpool (Liverpool 024A and Liverpool 024B) and one in Wirral (Wirral 011C), Rochdale (Rochdale 010C) and Middlesbrough (Middlesbrough 003F) (see map below).

The IoD2019 also illustrates that many of the most deprived 10 per cent of neighbourhoods in England face multiple challenges across the domains comprising the IMD2019. Almost all these areas (3,242) are ranked as highly deprived (i.e. in the most deprived decile) on at least two of the seven domains of deprivation. Nearly two-thirds (2,152) are highly deprived on four or more domains, and just under a third (1,007) are highly deprived on five or six of the seven domains.

Some areas, however, have become less deprived. For example, local authority districts in London have seen a relative decrease in their levels of deprivation between the IMD2015 and the IMD2019. According to the IMD2015, eight London boroughs were ranked in the most deprived 30 per cent of local authorities when looking at the proportion of their neighbourhoods which were the most deprived nationally - Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Hackney, Islington, Westminster, Enfield, Kensington and Chelsea and Waltham Forest. According to the IMD2019, only three London Boroughs are ranked in the most deprived 30 per cent; Hackney, Haringey, and Kensington and Chelsea. Tower Hamlets has become considerably less deprived on this measure, ranking 24th in the IMD2015 and 175th in the IMD2019, indicating that the neighbourhoods within the authority have become less deprived relative to other neighbourhoods across England. Other areas such as Leicester, Sandwell and Wolverhampton have also seen a relative decrease in the levels of deprivation. Chart 4 below, taken from the National statistic release, illustrates the 32 most deprived local authority areas according to the IMD2015 and IMD2019, and how rankings have changed between iterations.



As part of the IoD2019 release a range of reports, guidance material, supporting data tables, interactive tools, and Open Data facilities are now available to aid user’s exploration of the data.

  • The National Statistic Release presents headline findings and commentary on the IoD2019. It explains the ways in which the Indices data can be used and described, and the range of measures available. The technical notes cover the main points which users should be aware of in using and interpreting the Indices (including change over time). The release also explains how users can give feedback on the Indices, and how the department will keep them informed in future.
  • An Infographic illustrates how the IMD2019 is comprised and some do’s and don’ts concerning the use of Indices data.
  • A Research Report provides guidance on how to use and interpret the datasets and presents further results from the IoD2019. It provides a full account of the set of summary statistics available for higher-level geographies, such as local authority districts, with an example of their use, and advice on interpreting change over time.
  • A Technical Report presents: the conceptual framework of the IoD2019, the methodology for creating the domains and the overall IMD, the design principles and quality assurance carried out to ensure reliability of the data outputs, and the component indicators and domains.



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