Tackling deprivation through regeneration and placemaking

For those involved in regeneration and renewal, the recent publication of the Government’s Indices of Deprivation for England offers a timely reminder of the very difficult issues facing those living in our most deprived areas. What are some of the key problems and, more importantly, how should we respond?

Published every four years, the Indices of Deprivation represent the official measure of relative deprivation in local communities across the country. They provide a place-based assessment that allows individual areas to be compared with each other and to assess change over the last four years. The data is generated from 39 indicators reflecting income, employment, education and skills, health, crime, barriers to housing and services and the quality of the living environment.

Some of the key issues highlighted by the data include:

• First and foremost is that for many communities that have experienced deprivation for some time, making real progress remains extremely difficult.

• For those neighbourhoods that are identified as some of the most deprived, the causes of deprivation are complex and multi-faceted.

• The indices show that addressing significant deprivation is difficult and long term. 88% of neighbourhoods in the top 10% most deprived areas were in a similar position four years ago.

• At local authority level, concentrations of the most deprived areas are evident in the West Midlands, North West and North East of England.

• Eight London boroughs are within the 10 local authorities that have experienced the greatest reduction in relative deprivation.

What does it mean for those involved in regeneration?


Complex and long-term deprivation across generations requires a heavy investment of resource and time through a multi-agency response to address personal needs. With the reductions in Government funding at a local level over recent years - and its impact on front line support - it is not surprising that making inroads in areas of greatest need has been limited.

Nevertheless, there are some areas which have been able to demonstrate some movement in their relative positions. In some cases, this is due to changes in the demographic profile, particularly through in-migration in parts of London. While this might mask continued challenges for existing communities and residents, this investment has included additional and improved affordable housing and increased local spending. Public sector policy makers are working increasingly hard to maximise the benefits of this investment back to existing communities and we are seeing more and more evidence of this through, for example, social value capture.

There is also evidence of improvements in relative deprivation where there is a collective and cohesive cross-agency approach to place planning and regeneration in partnership with the community.

The need for further thinking about industrial and economic policy is relevant for the most deprived regional communities and remains a critical part of the answer for future improvements.

Improvements in the use of technology and data provides an opportunity to track impacts of interventions more quickly and easily and can be used to support a more flexible and targeted approach to intervention going forward.

Tim Preston

Account Director Ask me a question
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