Measuring the scale of inequality in Warwickshire

The economic downturn of 2009 and 2010 had a huge impact on our ability to reduce inequalities across Warwickshire.  The evidence clearly identifies that the communities with the highest levels of need suffered disproportionately more than others during the past two years, and ‘the gap’ between our most and least deprived neighbourhoods has increased significantly.

How do we measure the extent of inequality, and how do we assess whether the scale of inequality has changed over time?  One headline measure is unemployment.  The proportion of the population containing unemployment-related benefits is a key indicator of need and has implications far beyond the act of claiming the benefit itself.  The Warwickshire Observatory has produced a data visualisation to help illustrate the scale of inequality using this specific measure, presenting changes at neighbourhood level over the past six years.

Here are some headlines…

  • In November 2004, the claimant count ranged between 0.2% and 6.3% at Super Output Area (click here for details on SOAs).
  • In February 2010, the range was between 0.4% and 15.5%. 
  • Although the lowest rates had technically doubled, the rate of increase for our most vulnerable communities had increased at a much greater rate, both in absolute and relative terms.
  • In early 2010, you were nearly 70 times more likely to be unemployed if you lived in the north Bar Pool neighbourhood than if you lived in Lapworth / Baddesley Clinton.

View the full version of the data visualisation here

This presents significant challenges for those services and organisations involved in trying to reduce inequalities in Warwickshire.  One view might be that ‘macro economic’ drivers such as the recession mean that we can only ever have a limited influence on the prosperity and well-being of the communities we serve.  Another view might be that, at times like this, the public sector’s role is more important than ever and we should be using the analysis to apply resources in an increasingly targeted way.

What do you think?  Please take a look at the graphic and share your views on the scale of inequality in Warwickshire.  If you’re not already registered, instructions on how you can leave comments are provided at the top right of your screen.

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