Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:47 am on 21st June 2022.

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Mairi Spowage:

It is a really good question. There has been a challenge around indices of multiple deprivation for many years. In general, they are used within the devolved nations to distribute funds, whether looking at how different things are invested in in health or education or what targets are set for universities. They are generally used in the devolved nations.

The issue with the indices of multiple deprivation is that they are not comparable across nations. While they rank areas within each of the nations, they do not say anything about how a particular output area or data zone in Scotland compares to one in England, both because they are just relative ranks within a country and because different metrics are used and different methodologies are adopted.

We said in one of the papers we published last year that perhaps a body like the Office for National Statistics might wish to consider how we can say something sensible about relative need on multiple dimensions of deprivation right across the UK. Given the ambitions of the UK Government, their levelling-up agenda and the way they are choosing to fund that as a replacement for EU funding, there is a clear policy need for that sort of tool now. It is very difficult for the UK Government to use the current indices of multiple deprivation across the UK, because you cannot compare between nations.