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‘Left behind’ areas are a growing concern for social policy with a range of studies exploring the underlying factors contributing to areas being ‘left behind’ – including low levels of social mobility, low skills or declining industries and lack of investment by the public and voluntary sector. In 2018 Local Trust commissioned Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) to provide a quantitative definition of ‘left behind’ areas – with a Community Needs Index developed to capture the social infrastructure challenges experienced in deprived communities.

In 2022 we launched a consultation on how best to improve the Community Needs Index, and have been working with an Advisory Group of experts from across government, academia and civil society to refine the methodology for the research and expand the evidence base for measuring social infrastructure. The results of the consultation and feedback from the Advisory Group have fed into the refinements to our approach.

The Community Needs Index Technical Methodology Paper provides details of the methodological changes and approach to building the new version of the Index.

The new methodology uses the latest data, including from the 2021 Census. It takes broadly the same approach as the previous iteration as regards scope and data categories; however, there has been a review of the underlying indicators, weighting methodology and units of geography used to construct the Index.

Read the Methodology Paper