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'NEIGHBOURHOOD STATISTICS' COULD AID DEPRIVED AREAS

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Detailed information on deprivation and poverty down to local government ward level could transform the way resourc...
Detailed information on deprivation and poverty down to local government ward level could transform the way resources are allocated, if the Treasury provides funding as part of the comprehensive spending review, reports The Financial Times (p7).

The Office for National Statistics submitted a large bid after publication in April of the social exclusion unit's policy action team report on 'better information'. This said 'the lack of neighbourhood information has been at the heart of policy failure'.

Easing the problems of deprived areas is a government priority, but litte progress can be made without a full diagnosis of the the problem, the FT says. Significant funding is needed to harness new computer processing capability to gather and process local data from various organisations.

One policy team members said: 'This will go ahead but the scale of Treasury funding will determine whether expectations on timescale will be met.'

The problems facing statisticians are: few organisations operate on the same geographical boundaries; data from 'administrative sources' have various shortcomings; the modelling required to match data from diverse sources in complicated; and the difficulty of raising data quality so that it meets national statistics standards.

Public policy analysts say the costs will be recovered in one year by the gains in efficient resource allocations. The ONS will collate data in nine 'domains' - health, education, work, crime, economy, social environment, physical environment, physical environment, housing and access to services - for each local area.

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