Poverty and Deprivation

Download a PDF of the report here: Poverty and Deprivation

As a large and very varied county, there’s no point in generalising about deprivation in Devon. We need to go straight for the detail.

The detail

One of the most commonly-used measures of deprivation in England is the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), which looks at a ‘basket’ of indicators, known as domains, including education, income, health, housing, and employment down to neighbourhood level (Local Super Output Area – LSOA). The Index synthesises information about these domains and provides a ranking based on the roughly 32,000 LSOAs in the country, then organises this into quintiles. The most recent IMD measures date from 2015; the previous update point was 2010.

The IMD is extremely useful as it covers a range of aspects, and it’s possible to look at each ‘domain’ separately – a neighbourhood may score relatively poorly for economic factors, but relatively highly for health indicators. However, the IMD is less good at picking up pockets of deprivation within relatively prosperous areas, especially in rural locations. The IMD map for Devon at local authority level looks like this – darker red is more deprived:

 

IMD map Devon

At this scale, Torbay can be seen to be in the 20% most deprived areas, while East Devon and the South Hams are broadly much less deprived. However, if you drill down to LSOA level, the picture looks rather more varied.

Torbay

In 2015 Torbay Unitary Authority had 14 LSOAs (of 89 - 16%) in the 10% most deprived in the country, and a total of 28 (31%) in the top 20%, up from 16 in 2010. There were six LSOAs in the most deprived 1000 (out of 32,844). Of the individual measures of deprivation, Torbay as a whole was most deprived in employment (14th out of 326 local authorities), and income affecting children and older people. There was a widening gap between the relatively less deprived, and the most deprived neighbourhoods. The most deprived LSOA in Torbay (ranking 219 out of 32,844) is within the ward of Roundham with Hyde. As is clear from the heat map, deprivation in this part of the county is concentrated in more urban areas.

IMD for Torbay and surrounds

IMD for Torbay and surrounds

Plymouth

In Plymouth, one LSOA, in Stonehouse, is in the 1% most deprived in the country, ranking 154 out of 32,844 (therefore the most deprived in Devon). Overall Plymouth ranks 69th out of 326 local authorities, which puts it in the 30% most-deprived nationally. Of a total of 161 LSOAs in Plymouth, 27 (17%) are in the 10% most deprived, and 47 (30%) in the top 20% (very similar proportions to Torbay). This figure has worsened slightly since 2010.

IMD for Plymouth and surrounds

IMD for Plymouth and surrounds

In 2014 the Plymouth Fairness Commission published a report outlining the stark differentiation in life chances of children born in different wards. Currently over 11,000 children are living in poverty in the city. The report noted a culture of low aspiration in Plymouth’s more deprived areas. It also noted the relative youth and small size of the city’s voluntary sector. The report advocated systems change that would introduce a more collaborative approach, involving local communities in decision making, and presented a detailed range of recommendations. In March 2018, the firm PwC in Plymouth formed a collaborative group made up of corporate, public sector and charitable organisations, Plymouth Children in Poverty, referencing the Commission’s work, and aimed at tackling this issue through sharing information and matching projects to potential funders. Plymouth Octopus (POP+) is active in connecting voluntary initiatives within the city, and bringing people together to make decisions on how to spend money on improving communities for everyone.

Devon County

Overall levels of deprivation in Devon County are lower than the national average. There are 20 (of over 450) Devon County Council LSOAs within the 20% most deprived in England (around 5% of the population). The most deprived is in central Ilfracombe, which ranks 1,576 out of 32,844. Areas in North and West Devon have relatively low levels of deprivation, but there are pockets of deprivation, especially within the cities, and some market towns (including Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bideford, Tiverton, Bradworthy, Tiverton, Dawlish, Exmouth, Teignmouth and Dartmouth).

IMD for Devon

IMD for Devon

Employment and In-work poverty

Although Devon’s workforce is more highly skilled than the national average, our wage levels are generally relatively low, particularly in rural areas. In some areas, especially around the coastal holiday resorts, there are high levels of seasonal work, especially related to tourism (agriculture is not as large an employer as perhaps is imagined in the county). There are more young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in more deprived areas, and especially in very rural ones.

England

£546

Plymouth

£467

Torbay

£408

East Devon

£403

Exeter

£499

Mid Devon

£386

North Devon

£399

South Hams

£415

Teignbridge

£417

Torridge

£357

Average gross weekly fulltime pay, 2017. Source: ONS

In Devon County the largest employment sectors are: retail, then health, followed by accommodation and food (which accounts for most tourism-related work). Unemployment is below the national average, at 2.2%. In Torbay, tourism accounts for around a third of jobs. Here, the proportion of the working-age population claiming out of work benefits is 4.6%, well above the national average and twice that in Devon County. Plymouth is one of the top three fishing ports in the UK, and also has high numbers employed in marine manufacturing and within the MoD. Unemployment in Plymouth was in 2017 at 3.9%, again, above the national average.

There are high levels of self-employment and employment in small businesses in Devon (see table below), especially in more rural areas. Levels of part-time employment are also higher than the England average in all parts of Devon.

 

Number of businesses with fewer than 10 employees (registered for VAT and/or PAYE) per 1000 residents

Proportion of working-age adults reporting as self-employed in the 2011 census

England

34

9.8%

Devon

35

11.9%

Plymouth

18

6.8%

Torbay

26

11.4%

East Devon

40

41.1%

Exeter

26

7.6%

Mid Devon

51

15.3%

North Devon

46

14.6%

South Hams

53

17.4%

Teignbridge

39

13.2%

Torridge

49

16.1%

West Devon

52

16.6%

Source: ONS, 2018

This picture fits with a narrative that sees people in rural areas often having diverse income strands. This pattern, together with uneven take-up of income-related benefits obscures problems with low income levels and financial insecurity. More than one in three small business owners, for example, are said to take less than £100 income from their business each month, and income can fluctuate, making it difficult to plan finances.

Whilst progress has been made nationally over the last twenty years to reduce poverty rates in some groups, such as pensioners, improvements in other areas, such as single-parent families, have recently begun to be eroded. In particular, alongside increases in employment, in-work poverty is now an increasing problem nationwide: across the UK poverty is reasonably evenly split between workless and in-work households. By 2015, 60% of people living in poverty were living in working households, the highest rate ever recorded. Eight million people, including almost three million children, are now living in poverty despite being in working families. While low pay is a significant trigger, households with a single earner were most at risk. This can be partially explained by cuts to benefits, partially by rising housing and general living costs.

The roll-out of Universal Credit began at different times in different parts of the county, but is underway in the second half of 2018. Given its payment monthly in arrears, and the well-publicised hardship caused by payment delays, the switch to Universal Credit has a particularly damaging effect on those in seasonal work, such as is common in the tourism and agriculture sectors.

Social mobility

IPPR’s recently published series of critical essays on social mobility argues that attempts to promote a fairer economy through efforts to improve social mobility will always be doomed to failure, as improved social mobility is an outcome of a more equal society, not a driver of it (and achieving this requires structural change). Seen through this lens, metrics for and commentary on social mobility are most useful as indicators of equality. The report also recommends we consider other aspects, such as disability and gender, alongside class.

In 2017 the Social Mobility Commission published its social mobility index, which takes into account a range of indicators relating to early years, education and working lives, to paint a picture of the prospects for someone from a disadvantaged background experiencing upwards social mobility, according to where they live. This recognises in particular the critical importance of early education in determining an individual’s future prospects. The results are varied: Torbay ranks as the third-best performer in England on the early years indicators, and yet Torbay, Torridge and North Devon are all in the bottom 10% for working lives indicators.

South Hams

49

Exeter

81

East Devon

123

Torbay

137

West Devon

143

Teignbridge

153

Plymouth

164

Mid Devon

194

North Devon

238

Torridge

283

Social mobility, ranked out of 324 English local authorities, with 1 being most social mobile. Source: Social Mobility Commission.

In 2018, the County APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) produced a report highlighting the relative disadvantage of coastal and rural areas in terms of social mobility. They point out the particular funding pressures on county councils (as opposed to unitary or metropolitan authorities), partly as a result of the inaccuracy of deprivation measures in picking up small pockets of deprivation within a generally less-deprived area, and partly owing to the higher costs of delivering services in rural areas. The report also points at infrastructural obstacles such as poor broadband, fewer post-16 education and training options, and the centralised nature of higher-skilled work.

Resources

http://dclgapps.communities.gov.uk/imd/idmap.html

This interactive map allows you to drill down to neighbourhood (Local Super Output Area – LSOA) and look at scores and rankings for a ‘basket’ of indicators of deprivation, known as the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). You can look at the Index as a whole, or individual ‘domains’ within it.

Joyce Halliday Telling a Different Tale: Social Needs in Devon, Devon Community Foundation, 1999. This beautifully written, and very comprehensive report commissioned by the Devon Community Foundation in 1999 makes for fascinating reading in 2018 – if nothing else as a historical reference for what has changed, most notably the extensive section on government and EU development funds, sadly all now defunct. We only have this in a single hard copy, I’m afraid, but its value can’t go unacknowledged.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation UK Poverty Report 2018. Produced annually.

Devonomics – statistics on aspects of population, economy, etc. For Devon county only https://www.devonomics.info/

Social Mobility Commission State of the Nation 2017: Social Mobility in Great Britain. 2017

http://www.dataplymouth.co.uk/ This website presents both raw open data sets from Plymouth, and analysis.

Social Mobility in Counties, County All-Party Parliamentary Group, October 2018.

Move on Up? Social mobility, opportunity and equality in the 21st century, IPPR, December 2018

Exeter Data Mill brings together datasets from the City Council and others, in user-friendly formats.

BBC’s Shared Data Unit collates research for use by local journalists across the UK, based on open data, or Freedom of Information requests.

Sustainable Villages: Making Rural Communities Fit for the Future, Country Land and Business Association, 2018.

The Plymouth Report, 2017. Produced by the City Council, and containing a range of statistical information on people, economy, transport, health, education, etc

Buses in Crisis, Campaign for Better Transport, 2018. The result of a Freedom of Information request, the report presents rates of local authority spending on bus services.

Rural England’s State of Rural Services Report (2018, though published in February 2019), is a comprehensive overview of everything from transport to welfare, health to cash machines.

 

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