Do the latest deprivation figures show poorer Londoners being pushed to the suburbs?

Changing deprivation in the north London borough of Islington. Image: Alasdair Rae.

With its long history of feudal oppression, industrial workhouses and dire slums, England is no stranger to deprivation. Even today, we’re all too familiar with phenomena like “beds in sheds”, soaring food bank use and fuel poverty. So it’s hardly surprising that, whenever a new deprivation dataset is released, we tend to focus our attention on the “most deprived” places across England.

While these areas warrant urgent attention, there are also many other significant stories to be told – so, when the government released the latest Indices of Deprivation for England, I delved into the data through mapping and analysis to see what I could uncover.


But before I share my findings, it will be helpful to explain what deprivation actually is. Deprivation is measured based on a mix of indicators relating to income, jobs, education, health, crime, housing and environment. It’s a broader measure than poverty – which tends to focus on income – but there is significant overlap between the two.

By combining deprivation data from 2010 and 2015 with freely available map data, I produced deprivation maps for all 326 of England’s local authorities – all of which are available for download and re-use on my website. The overall message is clear: not much has changed.

Deprivation in Middlesbrough, 2015. Image: Alasdair Rae.

For example, 49 per cent of Middlesbrough’s neighbourhoods remain within the most deprived 10 per cent in England, compared to 47 per cent in 2010. It’s a similar story in Hull, where 45 per cent were in England’s most deprived decile in 2015, compared to 43 per cent in 2010.

Unlike poverty, deprivation is a relative measure, which means that we can also locate England’s “least deprived” areas – such as Hart, in Hampshire. Yet the patterns in these areas have also proved to be very persistent: not much has changed at either end of the deprivation spectrum.

Deprivation in Hart, Hampshire, 2015. Image: Alasdair Rae.

Of course, this persistence shouldn’t surprise us. We’re only talking about a five-year period – and even the most optimistic policymaker wouldn’t expect much to change in half a decade. In fact, they probably wouldn’t expect to see much change over a whole decade, so entrenched are patterns of deprivation and so humble the impacts of urban policy.

A special case

But there is one major exception to this rule: London. If we map out the data from the 2004 Indices of Deprivation, and compare them to the most recent results, we see some striking changes.

I looked at areas in London which were within England’s most deprived decile in both 2004 and 2015 – they appear in red on the maps below. In 2004, London had 462 of England’s 10 per cent most deprived areas. By 2015, this figure had shrunk to 274.

The disappearance of acute deprivation in Tower Hamlets? Image: Alasdair Rae.

The disappearance of many of the red areas since 2004 helps document the apparent dispersal of London’s poorest residents over little more than a decade.

These changes are most obvious in areas at the forefront of gentrification struggles, such as Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham and Camden. You can see the results of this analysis for every London Borough here.

Hold on a minute though. Shouldn’t we be applauding the elimination of London’s most deprived areas? If these changes were due to individuals escaping deprivation and poverty, then the answer would be “yes”. But I don’t believe this is the case.

Given the influx of new residents in these areas, it’s more likely to be a result of changing local populations, particularly in east London where the process of gentrification is well documented. As recent events like the Cereal Killer Cafe protests have shown, this inevitably results in conflict and resentment at a local level.

 

Are Hackney's poorer residents now better off? Image: Alasdair Rae.

At the same time, we are also seeing increases in the number of deprived neighbourhoods in some Outer London Boroughs, such as Bromley. The two phenomena may not be directly related, but I wouldn’t rule it out. It could well be that, as wealthier residents move into the more central boroughs, poorer Londoners are being pushed toward the city’s more affordable outskirts.

An increase in acute deprivation in outer London? Image: Alasdair Rae.

If we’re serious about tackling acute deprivation in our society, then we should shift our focus beyond deprivation and towards inequality itself. Thankfully, the realisation is gradually dawning that addressing inequalities on a national level should be a matter of priority. The OECD has argued that when inequality rises, economic growth falls – and that we should all be more concerned with how those on the bottom 40 per cent of incomes in society fare.


Yet this message has to date had little impact upon government policies around the globe. To address the kinds of inequalities seen in England, there first needs to be a realisation that the impacts of austerity policies tend to be very spatially uneven and often serve to intensify levels of deprivation at the local level. This message isn’t currently a popular one, but I think it needs urgent attention.The Conversation

Alasdair Rae is a senior lecturer in urban studies and planning at the University of Sheffield.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 
 
 
 

Here are all the names of London tube stations that we’ve just stopped noticing are weird

What the hell. Swiss Cottage. Image: Oxyman/Wikipedia Commons.

Angel

 “The next station is Gnome. Change here for Elf, Cherubim and Gnome.”

Arsenal

Would be a lot less weird if it wasn’t a good eight miles away from where they actually built the arsenal.

Bank

It’s like something from a kid’s picture book where everything is labelled incredibly literally. Was even sillier when the next station along was still called Post Office. (It’s St Paul’s now.)

Barking

Disappointing lack of doggos.

Barkingside

Same, also a surprisingly long way from Barking.

Bromley-by-Bow

But not by Bromley which, once again, is eight bloody miles awy.

Canada Water

No.

Chalk Farm

Chalk isn’t a plant, lads.

Cockfosters

...

Elephant & Castle

What.

Grange Hill.

Hainault

Hang on, that’s in Belgium isn’t it?

Hornchurch

There are literally horns no the church, to be fair.

Kentish Town

Actually in Middlesex, nowhere near Kent.

Knightsbridge

Not only no knights, but no bridge either.


Oval

Might as well have a station called “oblong” or “dodecahedon”.

Oxford Circus

Plenty of clowns though, amirite?

Perivale

Does any other London suburb promise such a vertiginous drop between name and reality?

Plaistow

To be honest the name’s fine, I just wish people knew how to pronounce it.

Roding Valley

The river’s more than 30 miles long, guys, this doesn’t narrow it down.

Seven Sisters

None that I’ve noticed.

Shepherd’s Bush

“Now where are those sheep hiding now?”

Shepherd’s Bush Market

Because one bush is never enough.

Southwark

1. That’s not how that combination of letters should sound. 2. That’s not where Southwark is. Other than that you’re fine.

Swiss Cottage

Sure, let’s name a station after a novelty drinking establishment, why the hell not.

Waterloo

Okay, this one is definitely in Belgium.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook