Large-scale data analysis finds ‘left behind’ places have worse health, wealth and employment

  • New research identifies 206 ‘left behind’ areas in England
  • Lack of places to meet, low levels of community activity and poor physical and digital connectivity are key indicators, in addition to deprivation
  • People in left behind neighbourhoods suffer higher rates of unemployment, serious ill health and child poverty

New research published today [05.09.19] by Local Trust [1] and Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) [2] suggests that places to meet, connectivity – both physical and digital – and an active, engaged community are vital to secure better social and economic outcomes for people living in deprived neighbourhoods.

People in places which lack these features have higher rates of unemployment and child poverty, and their health is also worse than those living in other deprived areas. And the evidence is that they are falling further behind. The report, Left behind? Understanding communities on the edge [3], argues that this adds up to these areas being some of the most left behind in the country.

The research combines multiple national data sources to create a statistically-robust ‘community needs’ index for the first time, helping policy makers target investment in social infrastructure.

It supports the case for new solutions to ‘level up’ civic infrastructure (such as community centres, libraries, green spaces) and improve connectivity and community engagement. It asks government to answer the call of the Community Wealth Fund Alliance [4] – a consortium of over 150 civil society and private sector organisations – for the next wave of dormant assets from stocks, shares, bonds, insurance and pension funds to be invested in left-behind neighbourhoods for this purpose.

Matt Leach, chief executive, of Local Trust said: “The areas we have identified as left behind are often on the edges of cities and towns yet disconnected from jobs and services. They have lost the pubs, community centres and other facilities that people need to sustain their neighbourhoods. Worryingly, they appear to be falling further behind the rest of the country on many key economic and social indicators. We need to work with government to ensure the people in them have the support they need to build stronger communities and better places to live.”

The report also asks government to establish a joint cross-government/civil society task force to consider evidence and develop recommendations to improve social and economic outcomes for people in left-behind areas, and to allocate an appropriate proportion of the £3.6bn Stronger Towns Fund and the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund to them.

Stefan Noble, Research Director OCSI said: “Some of the findings are very striking, for example unemployment and benefit claimant rates are double the national average, one in three children are living in poverty and more than 36% of the adult population hold no formal qualifications. There is also some evidence that the areas we have identified as left-behind are falling behind other deprived areas on key socio-economic outcomes. These differences cast light on the potential impact of community factors in deprived places and how they shape peoples’ lives and outcomes.”

The research identifies 206 wards as left behind. They have a combined population of more than 2 million people, which is nearly 4% of people in England. Mapping shows concentrations of left-behind areas in housing estates outlying big towns and cities, such Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Hull and Stoke, as well as in post-industrial areas in northern England and coastal areas in southern England.

Some 45 wards in the North East fall into the category of left behind, representing 13.3% of all its wards – the highest percentage of any region. Meanwhile, 52 wards in the North West are classified as left behind – the greatest number of any region – representing 5.6% of all wards there.

These left-behind areas have a different demographic profile from other deprived areas, with a lower working-age population, a higher number of people with work-limiting illnesses, higher levels of lone-parent families and caring responsibilities, and lower population growth than elsewhere in the country.

The research is published at http://bit.ly/LTLeftBehind

ENDS

Further information

Sophie Willett
07955 376591
sophie@willemcomms.com

Notes

[1] Local Trust was established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a unique programme that puts residents across the country in control of decisions about their own lives and neighbourhoods. Funded by a £217m endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund – the largest ever single commitment of lottery funds – it provides in excess of £1m of long-term funding over 10-15 years to each of 150 local communities, many of which face major social and economic challenges but have missed out in the past from accessing their fair share of statutory and lottery funds in the past. www.localtrust.org.uk

[2] Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) work with public and community organisations to improve services. They turn complex datasets into engaging stories, and make data, information and analysis accessible for communities and decision-makers. A spin-out from Oxford University, OCSI has helped 100s of public and community sector organisations to make their services more efficient and effective.

[3] The analysis is not intended to be definitive – Local Trust will add more datasets and make it more granular over time. The research report and OCSI’s research slides are available at http://bit.ly/LTLeftBehind

[4] The Community Wealth Fund alliance is a group of public, private and voluntary sector organisations and initiatives that are supporting the call for a new multi-billion pound national endowment to support deprived communities. bit.ly/CommunityWealthFund