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High deprivation levels are associated with low economic activity, high unemployment, unhealthy lifestyles, high levels of limiting long-term illness and disability, low life expectancy, poor educational attainment, poor housing quality and overcrowding, and high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. 

Deprivation is more than just poverty of income: whether the residents of an area experience deprivation is also influenced by education, skills, health, housing, crime, access to essential services, environmental quality, and many other factors. 


Facts, Figures and Trends

The key source of data on the level, distribution and nature of deprivation is provided by the Indices of Deprivation produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG 2015). 

While there are other individual datasets that measure aspects of deprivation, these are either already incorporated into the Indices of Deprivation or are highly correlated with the Indices.  Accordingly, this chapter just focuses on the Indices of Deprivation as a proxy for measurement of deprivation in the Borough, including deprivation among children and older people.

The Indices of Deprivation are prepared using the Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) geography which has the dual benefits of consistent size throughout England, and being stable over time so that changes in deprivation levels can be measured.

There are 32,844 LSOAs in England (103 in Bedford Borough). Deprivation scores are calculated for each LSOA and they are then ranked from 1 (most deprived) to 32,844 (least deprived).  The rankings are often reported as deciles of deprivation from 0-10% (most deprived), 10-20%, 20-30%.…..90-100% (least deprived).

It should be noted that:

1.    The Indices of Deprivation measure relative deprivation, not absolute.

2.    Not all residents of deprived areas are deprived, and not all deprived people live in deprived areas.


The Indices of Deprivation 2015

The latest edition, the Indices of Deprivation 2015, was released on 30th September 2015 and replaces the previous version which was produced in 2010 and was fast becoming outdated (DCLG 2010).  A total of 37 variables are used in the Indices of Deprivation, with most dating from 2013 and 2014, though some 2011 Census data is also used.

Analysis of the Bedford Borough 2015 deprivation data, including comparison with 2010, is available here.   For detailed background on deprivation in the Borough, reference should be made to those pages on this website; only a summary of key findings and implications is provided in this chapter of the JSNA.

The Indices of Deprivation 2015 provide a national ranking of local deprivation levels using a series of 7 Domains (income, employment, health and disability, crime, etc) which are then weighted and combined to form the most commonly referenced measure of deprivation, the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). 

Nationally, Bedford Borough is in the mid range on overall deprivation, ranking 148 out of 326 local authorities in England (where 1 is the most deprived) on the 2015 IMD (based on the ‘rank of average score’). 

However, this average rating masks areas of significant deprivation affecting many residents in Bedford and Kempston Towns. 

Of the 103 LSOAs in Bedford Borough, 5 are among the 0-10% most deprived areas in England on the IMD (these are LSOAs in parts of Castle (2), Cauldwell, Harpur and Kingsbrook wards).  In 2010 there were 4 LSOAs in the 0-10% decile.

A further 9 LSOAs are in the 10-20% decile (7 in 2010), with 11 more in the 20-30% decile (11 in 2010).

Figure 1 provides a breakdown of the 103 LSOAs in the Borough on the IMD 2015 by decile of deprivation, along with a comparison to 2010:

Figure1:  IMD 2015 and IMD 2010 by Decile of Deprivation

IMD 2015 and IMD 2010

Source: DCLG, Indices of Deprivation 2015 and 2010

All 25 of these LSOAs are in Bedford or Kempston Towns, with the greatest deprivation centred on Castle, Cauldwell, Goldington, Harpur, Kingsbrook, and Queens Park wards. Their locations are shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2: Bedford Borough LSOAs among 0-30% most deprived areas in England (IMD 2015)

The Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) is a sub-division of the Income Domain of the Indices of Deprivation 2015 and measures the proportion of children living in households which claim various means-tested benefits.

On the IDACI measure, Bedford Borough has 5 LSOAs in the 0-10% decile, 11 in the 10-20% decile, and 11 in the 20-30%.  The 27 LSOAs in the 0-30% most deprived areas was greater than the 24 in 2010, though the number in the 0-10% decile did improve from 9 to 5.

Of the 27 LSOAs in the 0-30% most deprived, 25 are located in the Urban Area and are shown in Figure 3.  The two exceptions in the Rural Area are both in the 20-30% decile – LSOA 487 in the Shortstown area of Eastcotts ward, and LSOA 548 which covers the new Wixams community in Wilshamstead ward.

Figure 3: Bedford Borough LSOAs among 0-30% most deprived areas in England (IDACI 2015)

The Indices of Deprivation 2015 also provide a measure of Income Deprivation Affecting Older People (IDAOPI)

On the IDAOPI Index, Bedford Borough has 6 LSOAs among the 0-10% decile, 5 among the 10-20%, and 13 among the 20-30%.  In total, 24 LSOAs are among the 0-30% most deprived areas nationally; while this is higher than in 2010 (23), the number in the 0-10% decile did improve from 9 to 6.   

Overall, 13.5% of older people in the Borough are income deprived, though this ranges up to a high of 50% in LSOA 471 in Castle ward.


What is this telling us?

Key insights provided by the Indices of Deprivation 2015 into the scale, nature and distribution of deprivation in the Borough include:

1.    Deprivation is multidimensional.  The 5 LSOAs in the 0-10% IMD decile are within the 0-20% level on almost every individual Domain of deprivation.

2.    Deprivation is entrenched and persistent.  Every single one of the 22 LSOAs which were among the 0-30% most deprived areas on the IMD in 2010 were also in the 0-30% in 2015.

3.    There was some deterioration in the overall level of (relative) deprivation in the Borough between 2010 and 2015.

This is evidenced by the deterioration in the overall Borough ranking, by the greater number of LSOAs falling within the 0-20% most deprived areas, and by the worsening average LSOA rankings in many of the more deprived wards including Cauldwell, Goldington, Harpur, Kingsbrook and Queens Park (though there was marginal improvement in Castle ward). 

Furthermore, of the 25 LSOAs that were among the 0-30% most deprived in 2015, only 5 improved their ranking between 2010 and  2015. Twenty of the 25 deteriorated. (See the 2015 Deprivation report for detailed analysis of changes between 2010 and 2015 (report will be available shortly))

4.    Among individual dimensions of deprivation, there was generally little change in the Borough between 2010 and 2015, though the number of LSOAs in the 0-10% decile on the Income related measures (the Income Domain, IDACI and IDAOPI) was lower, indicating some improvement.  There was also improvement in the Health and Disability Domain with only 2 LSOAs in the 0-10% decile compared to 6 in 2010 (though 8 were in the 10-20% decile compared to only 5 in 2010).

5.    Areas of high deprivation in Bedford and Kempston generally have a much higher proportion of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups than the Borough as a whole. 

Across the 14 LSOAs in the Borough which fall among the 0-20% most deprived areas in England, BME groups form almost exactly 50% of the population.  This BME proportion is much higher than the 28.5% among the total Borough population, or the 37% BME in Bedford and Kempston where all 14 of these LSOAs are located.

6.    There is a very pronounced urban:rural deprivation divide in the Borough.  All of the 25 LSOAs in the 0-30% most deprived areas on the IMD are in Bedford or Kempston Towns.

There are small pockets of deprivation in the Rural Area but the LSOA geography is probably too large to capture these effectively (analysis of the IMD 2007 at the much smaller Census Output area level has identified deprivation in the Shortstown area of Eastcotts).

Where the Rural Area does exhibit high deprivation is in access to basic services such as a post office, GP, food store and primary school.  There are 39 LSOAs which fall within the 0-30% most deprived on the Geographical Barriers sub-domain, and almost all are in the Rural Area. While lack of access to such services may not be a concern for those who move to these areas for lifestyle reasons, inaccessibility may be a major issue for older rural residents, those in poor health, and other vulnerable groups.


What are the key inequalities?

A report by Bedford Borough’s Director of Public Health (DPH 2013) documents the high correlation between levels of deprivation and health inequalities in the Borough.

This analysis compares the health outcomes and performance on the wider determinants of health (e.g. education) of residents of those LSOAs in the Borough which are among the 0-20% most deprived nationally with residents of the least 80% deprived. The health inequalities are stark:

There are significant economic and health inequalities in Bedford Borough. The inequalities in life expectancy are so great that Bedford Borough is amongst the 20% of local authorities in England with the greatest inequalities. There is a significant and growing gap in life expectancy between the 20% most deprived and the rest of the population, especially among females.”  (DPH 2013, pg 43)

Though this analysis was based on the 2010 Indices of Deprivation and has not yet been updated for the 2015 Indices of Deprivation, there is no question that an updated analysis would confirm the extremely strong link between deprivation and health inequalities.


This chapter links to the following chapters in the JSNA

·         Ethnicity

·         Life Expectancy

·         Housing

·         Economic Wellbeing

·         Air Quality

·         Natural Environment and Green Space

·         School Life



Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), English Indices of Deprivation 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2015

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), English Indices of Deprivation 2010 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2010

Director of Public Health, Bedford Borough (2013), Inequalities in Bedford Borough


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