The gaffe has incensed Hull City Council which says it could have affected its bid for cash from the £100 million single regeneration budget, losing it millions of pounds.
'If I'd made the same mistake I would have shot myself by now,' said Hull deputy leader Ken Branson. He described it as an 'astonishing' error.
The mistake was made in the calculation of the index published in May. According to the DoE, two figures for education attainment and the level of long-term employment were transposed. As a result Hull was ranked 56 in the original index out of 366 councils in England when it should have been ranked 31. The most deprived council area has a ranking of one. Kingston upon Thames was ranked 124 when it should have been ranked 169.
Hull has failed to win any funding from the last two city challenge rounds, despite being hit hard by industrial decline and the collapse of North Sea fishing. 'My gut feeling is that we would have lost out and that we would not have had any recourse,' said Mr Branson. 'If local government had done the same thing we would have been hung drawn and quartered.'
Mr Branson suggested that the DoE might have spotted the mistake itself if it had a few more northerners working in Whitehall.