Where to live?

It’s always interesting to see how private businesses use the Indices of Deprivation to create new products – often mapping or area statistics based.

Some of these are based around the housing market and targeted at potential house buyers, integrating the Indices of Deprivation into an ‘area lookup’ function. For example, propertydetective.com provides customers with detailed information about a potential house location based on postcode entry. It uses the Indices of Deprivation as part of an ‘affluence rating’ which rates areas “in terms of household income, employment and access to opportunities”. This does come off somewhat wrong-handed, as the IMD and the indicators that make up its domains are specifically designed to identify aspects of deprivation not affluence.

On a similar note, competitor Illustreets uses attractive mapping software to create a tool to find the ‘best places to live’ and displays housing market data as well as ONS, DWP and IMD information. Here the IMD is also used to calculate standards of living, with areas receiving a 1-100 rating based on their deprivation score, and can be broken down by domain to show you separate scores for environment, crime, health and so on.

Both these sites use the Indices along with a host of other factors – for paying members propertydetective provides intriguing information such as ‘family friendliness’ and smell/noise ‘nuisances’ in an area. But what about the use of IMD as an indicator of quality of life or affluence? Our own/DCLG guidance cautions against using it to measure affluence as it is designed to capture the exact opposite – the ‘least deprived’ places may not necessarily correlate with the wealthiest. Therefore although the IMD is not ideal for a ‘fine tuned’ quality of life statistic the indicators it contains such as educational attainment and crime rates would likely be seen by many as key to an area’s desirability.

Guidance notes available here.

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