HC Deb 28 July 2000 vol 354 cc953-4W
Ms Buck

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will place in the Library the ward level data on ranks and scores for the Index of Deprivation 1999, already given to individual authorities, in(a) hard copy and (b) electronic format; [132892]

(2) when a full underlying data set for the Index of Deprivation 1999 will be made available. [132893]

Ms Armstrong

For the last 18 months, my Department has undertaken a review of the 1998 Index of Local Deprivation. The technical side of the review has been carried out by a team from the University of Oxford led by Dr. Mike Noble and has included four public consultations. I am very grateful to Dr. Noble and his colleagues for their hard and excellent work.

There has been considerable interest in the review and quite rightly so, because the Index is one of the main instruments used to allocate resources to the most disadvantaged communities. The review process has taken a long time. This has been necessary if only because the numerous detailed responses received during the consultations have meant that the Oxford team needed to examine and test what were very technical suggestions. I will shortly be issuing a paper that responds to all of the technical points that were raised.

I shall also be publishing the indices, that is the scores and ranks at the ward level which is available for each domain of deprivation and the district level measures.

Hard copies of the technical paper and the summary which will include the scores and rankings on the district level measures will be placed in the Library of the House along with a CD-ROM containing all of the ward and district scores and rankings. The summary report will provide details of where to obtain, subject to any confidentiality constraints, the underlying raw data.

However, the indices are not a definitive instrument and will need to be revised when further substantial small area data streams become available and could be incorporated into the indices. For example, while the review of the Index has been going on, the Social Exclusion Unit's Policy Action Team (PAT) 18 on Better Information has reported. This report of PAT 18 recognised that its recommendations for increasing the availability and coverage of small area data would be useful for the Indices in the longer term. One of its key outputs would be a national ward-level data set which would include as much as possible of the data on which the Indices scores and rankings are based. In the longer term the 2001 Census data will also be relevant. We will also be looking at the way social housing conditions could be incorporated into the indices.

In the meantime, the Government have decided to use the new indices rather than the old Index of Deprivation as the primary but not the sole basis for the allocation of resources for deprived areas. This will not rule out the possibility of other areas being offered regeneration assistance. However, I fully realise that whenever a change of this kind is made, there is the risk that authorities that would have benefited on the old basis for allocations might not do so under the new one. We therefore intend to set up transitional arrangements that make allowances for authorities that had been among the most deprived areas on the old Index and are not among the most deprived areas on the new indices. We will also be considering how areas that have pockets of deprivation can be eligible for help. We will be detailing these transitional arrangements when we publish any proposals for allocating resources that make use of the new indices.

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