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Tackling Poverty in Leicester

Areas of poverty in Leicester

Poverty is a difficult issue to measure. There is a wide range of data sources available, all of which are relevant but some of which show seemingly different levels of need. Measures of poverty in Leicester do agree on the following:

  • The city experiences significant levels of poverty and deprivation.
  • Leicester has levels of poverty above and beyond that of the national average, but similar to comparator cities including Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham.
  • Deprivation and poverty affects our most vulnerable populations including older people and children.

Indices of Multiple Deprivation

The most widely used measurement of poverty in England is the indices of multiple deprivation (IMD). The IMD is produced every four to five years and is composed from data across a number of “domains” including: income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing and services, and living environment. There are also measures for children and older people.

An IMD score is assigned to small neighbourhood areas in England. These areas are known as a lower super output areas (LSOA) and there are 32,844 across England. Each LSOA represents about 1,500 people (or 650 households). Once a score is assigned to areas, these LSOAs are ranked and grouped, allowing us to identify areas that are amongst the 10% most deprived areas in England.

  • 39 of the 192 Leicester LSOAs are grouped in the 10% most deprived areas of England.
  • 20% of people in Leicester live in these 10% most deprived areas nationally.
  • The proportion of Leicester’s population who live in the most deprived 20% of areas nationally has fallen from 44% in 2015 to 35% in 2019.
Each local authority is given a ranking based on data from its combined LSOAs – the ranking is out of the 317 local authorities in England, with 1 being the most deprived and 317 being the least. Leicester is the 32nd most deprived local authority in England, out of 317 local authorities. This compares to the 21st most deprived local authority in 2015 (out of 326 local authorities).

The IMD for Leicester, as compared to similar urban areas, shows the following changes over time:
Statistical neighbours Rank in 2015 Rank in 2019 and change
Bradford 19 13 (-6)
Birmingham 7 7 (0)
Nottingham 8 11 (+3)
Leicester 21 32 (+11)
Luton 59 70 (+11)
Coventry 54 78 (+24)

Leicester is in the top twenty authorities for most improved IMD rank since 2015, having moved 11 places. The most improved local authorities in the country tend to be London boroughs. Locally the city centre has seen the most improvement in deprivation rank.

The IMD can be mapped and shows the pattern of deprivation across the city. The interactive map below shows that the outer estates Beaumont Leys/Mowmacre and Stocking Farm, New Parks, Braunstone, Saffron, Eyres Monsell, and the inner city estate St Matthews and St Peters are amongst the most deprived in the city. These areas have not broadly changed over time and include a high proportion of social housing with fewer shops, businesses and facilities.

The full Leicester deprivation report is available on the  Leicester Open Data Portal

Indices of Multiple Deprivation in Leicester 2019 - Overall deprivation

Map key:

Indices of Multiple Deprivation in Leicester 2019 - Overall deprivation
  • 0-10
  • 10-20
  • 20-30
  • 30-40

  • 50-60
  • 60-70
  • 70-80

Children in poverty

More recent measures of poverty focus on children and many of these point to increasing levels of poverty. For example, the table below shows the percentage of school aged children known to be eligible for free school meals and this has increased in recent years.

The organisation End Child Poverty has analysed government statistics: "Children in low income families: local area statistics" (March 2021). These give the number and percentage of children aged 0-15 years who are living in households with below 60% median income before housing costs. The data provided here uses the government's local indicators combined with information about housing costs at the local level to estimate poverty rates after housing costs.

An estimated 38% of Leicester’s children aged under 16 years are classified as living in low-income families. The percentage of children under 16 in Leicester living in low-income families increased from 30% (2014/15) to 38% in 2019/20. Leicester has experienced a higher increase compared to similar authorities (on average 6% increase) and England (2% increase)

There are also some lower estimates at a parliamentary constituency level. The table below shows the change in figures from 2015 to 2020 for each of Leicester’s three constituencies. This suggests high levels of child poverty across the city with slightly higher figures in the South and East.

Number of children in low-income families Leicester West Leicester South Leicester East
In 2019/20 9,521 (39%) 10,323 (42%) 11,113 (42%)
Since 2015 +1,889 (+6%) +1,776 (+6.4%) +2,476 (+7.1%)