§ Mr. Raynsford
My Department is currently consulting with a wide range of external organisations, including local authorities, on proposals put forward by Professor Brian Robson of the University of Manchester to update the Index of Local Conditions to a 1996 base and to incorporate methodological improvements. Professor Robson's recommendations include a number of changes to the Index which will make it more sensitive to the identification of deprivation in rural areas and which have been proposed by groups and individuals concerned with rural regeneration. These proposed changes include removing indicators on car ownership and children in flats, adding a new indicator on the receipt of housing benefit and council tax benefit and changing the way that the overall index value is calculated so that high levels of deprivation on certain indicators are not cancelled out by low levels on other indicators. It is hoped to publish the new Index of Local Deprivation in the Spring.