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Indices of multiple deprivation (IMD)

The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) is a measure of relative deprivation for small areas (Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs))1. It is a combined measure of deprivation based on a total of 37 separate indicators that have been grouped into seven domains, each of which reflects a different aspect of deprivation experienced by individuals living in an area.

Every LSOA in England is given a score for each of the domains and a combined score for the overall index. This score is used to rank all the LSOAs in England from the most deprived to the least deprived, allowing users to identify how deprived areas are relative to others.  

For the purposes of identifying the most and least deprived areas, the list of LSOAs in England (or Herefordshire) is placed in order and divided into equal parts called percentiles. An LSOA is in the 25% most deprived nationally if it falls within the most deprived quarter of all areas in England. The most deprived areas are described as being in the 'top 10%' - note that these areas will also be in the 25% most deprived.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released several supporting documents to accompany the Indices, including details of the underlying methodology, how to use the indices and the main findings for England.  These can be found on the The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)) website.  In addition, a Guidance Note and Frequently Asked Questions document can also be downloaded from the resource box.

Multiple deprivation in the national context2

Figure 1:  Maps showing the areas of Herefordshire that are among the most deprived nationally according to the Index of Multiple deprivation 2015.

Map showing areas of Herefordshire among the most deprived LSOAs nationally.

Source: Department of Communities and Local Government.

Deprivation at county level

The Indices of Deprivation are designed to measure the relative deprivation of LSOAs. There is no single summary measure of deprivation for larger areas, such as local authorities, because levels of deprivation and population density can vary considerably across them. However, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published several measures that highlight different aspects of deprivation, each generating a different ranking of areas. Comparison of the different measures is therefore needed to give a fuller description of deprivation for larger areas.

Out of 326 districts and unitary authorities in England, Herefordshire ranks between 126 and 193 (i.e. between the 40th and 60th percentiles) depending on whether the ranking is derived by averaging the domain score or rank or by local population concentration or extent of deprivation, with 1 being the most deprived. See section 3.3 of DCLG’s Research Report for further details of the different measures used.

1Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) are fixed statistical geographies of about 1,500 people designed by the ONS.

2 National context means how a particular area compares in terms of deprivation relative to all LSOAs in England i.e. the national rank.