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TRANSITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS BEFORE NEW DEPRIVATION INDEX IS IMPLEMENTED, SAYS ARMSTRONG

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Hansard 11 July: Column 696 ...
Hansard 11 July: Column 696

The new government-commissioned Oxford University research on deprivation in English local authority wards will not be implemented to direct funding without transitional arrangements being in place, local government and regions minister Hilary Armstorng told MPs.

She told Karen Buck, Labour MP for Regent's Park and Kensington North, that last December the DETR published information on local authority district rankings on five different measures of deprivation.

As part of the consultation, each authority information on ward scores and rankings for their area. That day she had arranged for updated ward scores and rankings to be sent to each authority.

A summary report would be published later this year with the deprivation scores and rankings of all wards and districts in England. It will provide details of where to obtain, subject to any confidentiality constraints, the underlying raw data.

Ms Buck said some London boroughs where concerned about the possible implications of the index. She asked whther there could be formula consultation on the new data just released, and asked whether deprived wards or ward clusters that fall outside the new index of local deprivation priority be able to access government funds targeted at certain deprived areas.

The minister explained the latest research provided considerable new information, using 33 different factors to give better information on a ward basis. Additional work was taking place to refine data.

She added: 'We shall ensure that, before the index is used to allocate money, it takes account of the fact that we are in a changing position, and therefore we would of course institute transitional arrangements if and when we do proceed. This is a very difficult issue. No statistics tell the whole story. None of us trusts statistics wholly.

'However, we want to ensure that we obtain the best information available so that local authorities know where deprivation is occurring and where they should target their money in order to tackle that deprivation.'

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