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‘Deprivation’ refers to unmet needs caused by a lack of resources of all kinds, not just financial. It is different from ‘poverty’ which refers to the lack of resources required to meet those needs.

The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) from the English Indices of Deprivation (IoD) suite is the main measure of relative deprivation across England. Deprivation as measured by the IoD is an area based measure, so people living within the area may have different experiences, although it describes the area as a whole. Socioeconomic Status is the alternative individual measure.

Poverty is typically defined in terms of disposable household income (income after adding on benefits and taking off direct taxes), adjusted for the number of people in the household. Although low income is a significant aspect of poverty, there are other aspects of poverty too.


What is deprivation and how do we measure it?

The Indices of Deprivation provides a set of relative measures of deprivation for small areas across England, based on seven different domains of deprivation. Each of the domains are constructed from a basket of different datasets or indicators. Combining information from the seven domains produces an overall relative measure of deprivation, the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) which is the most widely used of the IoD. The domains can also be used seperately if that is a specific focus of work. IMD combines domains with the following weights:

Imd domains in proportion they are combined: Income Deprivation (22.5%); Employment Deprivation (22.5%); Education, Skills and Training Deprivation (13.5%); Health Deprivation and Disability (13.5%); Crime (9.3%); 	Barriers to Housing and Services (9.3%); Living Environment Deprivation (9.3%)


Deprivation domains

  • All deprivation domains are mapped in the 'Integrated care Neighbourhood tool' linked off the neighbourhoods page of this website.
  • Income domain - adults/ families in receipt of a range of income related benefits (Income support, income based jobseekers' allowance, income based employment and support allowance, pension credit, asylum seeksrs receiving subsistence and/or accommodation support, universal credit without 'working - no requirements')
  • Employment domain - in receipt of a range of benefits to support employment or where personal circumstances make working challenging (Jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance, incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, carer's allowance, universal credit 'searching for work' and 'no work requirements' groups
  • Education, skills and training domain
    • Children and young people subdomain - key stage 2 and 4 attainment, secondary school absene, staying on in education, entry to higher education
    • Adults subdomain - no/ low qualifications, English language proficiency
  • Health and disability domain - years of potential life lost, comparative illness and disability ratio, acute mobidity, mood and anxiety disorders
  • Barriers to housing and servcies domain
    • Geographical barriers subdomain - Road distance to a post office; Road distance to a primary school; Road distance to a general store or supermarket; Road distance to a GP surgery
    • Wider barriers subdomain - household overcrowding, homelsessness, housing affordability
  • Crime domain - recorded crime rates for violence, burglary, theft, criminal damage
  • Living environment domain
    • Indoor subdomain - no central heating, housing in poor condition
    • Outoor subdomain - air quality; road traffic collisions involving injury to cyclists/ pedestrians
  • Income deprivation affecting children index
  • Income deprivation affecting older people index

As far as is possible, each indicator is based on data from the most recent time point available. The latest IoD release was in 2019, so the datasets used were from up to 2016/17. Because of the rollout of Universal Credit which particularly affected indicators in the Income Deprivation and the Employment Deprivation domains, the data for these domains relates to the tax year 2015/16. The next IoD release is expected in 2025.

There are substantial health inequalities between people from different deprivation groups, which you can explore more at The IoD is an area based measure, so not every person in an area will experience deprivation to precisely the same extent - see also socioeconomic status.

The Bolton picture

IMD is calculated for small areas (Lower Super Output Areas - LSOAs) and there are a number of ways of combining this to larger geographies such as local authority areas. The two most commonly used methods are ‘rank of average scores’ and ‘rank of average ranks’. The main difference is that more deprived LSOAs tend to have more ‘extreme’ scores than ranks. So highly deprived areas will not tend to average out to the same extent as when using ranks; highly polarised areas will therefore tend to score higher on the average score measure than on the average rank. Here we have used the rank of average scores.

  • Regarding the IMD rankings 1 is always the most deprived
  • In IMD 2019, Bolton is ranked the 34th most deprived local authority in the country (out of 317). In 2015 it was ranked 46th, and in 2010 34th (adjusted to 2019 local authorities). So Bolton has become relatively more deprived since 2015 - but becasue it's relative a lower rank doesn’t necessarily mean things have got worse in real life, they may just not have improved at the same rate as other areas around them
  • Within Greater Manchester, Bolton is around average for the conurbation. Manchester is the most deprived borough, and Trafford the least.

The IMD ranks every LSOA (Lower Super Output Area, a small administrative goegraphy) in England from 1 (most deprived area) to 32,844 (least deprived area). It is common to describe how relatively deprived a small area is by saying whether it falls among the most deprived 10% or 20% of small areas in England (although there is no definitive cut-off at which an area is described as ‘deprived’).

Using mid 2022 LSOA population estimates, 26% of the Bolton population live in an area that is among the 10% most deprived nationally, while 45% of the population live in an area that is among the 20% most deprived nationally. 4% of the Bolton population live in an area that is among the 10% least deprived nationally, while 12% live in an area that is among the 20% least deprived nationally.

Since IMD 2010 there have been few changes regarding our most deprived neighbourhoods and deprivation remains at its greatest in the Wards of Halliwell, Crompton, Breightmet, Great Lever, Rumworth, and Farnworth, with pockets outside the town centre identifying Johnson Fold and Washacre

Explore more

There are a number of interactive tools to explore IMD. Here of some of those we’ve found most useful.

Poverty & cost of living

Poverty is typically defined in terms of disposable household income (income after adding on benefits and deducting direct taxes), adjusted for the number of people in the household. Although low income is a significant aspect of poverty, there are other aspects of poverty too.

The UK's official poverty statistics are provided by the Housholds Below Average Income (HBAI) release. Two commonly used measures of poverty based on disposable income are given below. Median income is the point at which half of households have lower income and half have higher income. Income can be measured before or after housing costs are deducted.

  • Relative low income - people living in households with income below 60% of the median in that year.
  • Absolute low income - people living in households with income below 60% of median income in a base year, usually 2010/11. This measurement is adjusted for inflation.

HBAI also includes measures of ‘material deprivation’, which provide an indication of peoples’ ability to access or afford a range of everyday goods and services. Statistics are also included on household food security, which measure the percentage of households considered to have access to sufficient, varied food to facilitate an active and healthy lifestyle.

Other useful resources