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Using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004: Guidance

DescriptionGuidance on use of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004 which was released on 14th June 2004.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJanuary 10, 2005


    Using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004: Guidance

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    The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2004 identifies small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across all of Scotland in a fair way. It is a significant improvement on previous measures and will allow for more effective targeting of policies and funding at deprived areas. This leaflet provides important guidance on the use of the index.

    What is the background to the SIMD 2004?

    • The SIMD 2004 provides a relative ranking of small areas across Scotland allowing the most deprived areas to be identified.
    • It is based on the small area statistical geography of data zones which contain on average 750 people and are substantially smaller than wards or postcode sectors, the geography of previous deprivation indices.
    • There are 6505 data zones across Scotland. The data zone ranked 1 by the SIMD 2004 is most deprived and the data zone ranked 6505 is least deprived.
    • The index brings together 31 different indicators which cover specific aspects of deprivation: Current Income, Employment, Health, Education, Housing and Access. These are combined to create the overall SIMD 2004.
    • The majority of the SIMD data represents 2002 and this should be taken into account when reviewing the results.
    • The index is based on the widely accepted methodology developed by Oxford University in their calculation of the Scottish Indices of Deprivation 2003.
    • It also implements recommendations from the Scottish Centre for Research on Social Justice's report 'Measuring Deprivation in Scotland: Developing a Long-Term Strategy' which incorporated a wide-ranging consultation process.

    What are the benefits of the SIMD 2004?

    • The SIMD 2004 is applicable to the whole of Scotland.
    • It makes use of the most up to date and accurate information available.
    • The data zone geography identifies pockets of deprivation which have been hidden in previous analyses using larger geographies.

    How are the SIMD 2004 results disseminated?

    • Maps which show the spread of relative deprivation across each Local Authority in Scotland are provided through a user friendly, interactive website. These can be used to identify the most deprived areas and any pockets of deprivation within each local authority.
    • The data behind the indicators has been published as far as possible subject to confidentiality constraints. This provides important contextual background to the index.
    • Information on the domains, indicators and methodology can be found in the associated technical reports.
    • Users can carry out more detailed analysis of the SIMD 2004 through comparison of the results with hundreds of socio-economic indicators on the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website.
    • Some example results are:
      • Glasgow City contains almost 40 percent of those areas in the most deprived 15% of data zones.
      • East Lothian, Eilean Siar, Moray, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands have no areas within the most deprived 15% of data zones.


    Interactive map of Glasgow City identifying those areas within the most deprived 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% of data zones in Scotland. Over half of Glasgow's population live within the most deprived 15% of areas in Scotland.

    © Crown copyright 2004. All rights reserved Scottish Executive. Licence number: 100020540 2004. Due to OS licence conditions, you/your agent may only use this map for official business dealings with the Scottish Executive. If you wish to use the map for any other uses, you must first obtain a separate licence from OS.

    pie chart

    What can the SIMD 2004 be used for?

    • The SIMD 2004 is the Scottish Executive's official measure of area based multiple deprivation.
    • It is relevant to policies and funding wholly or partly aimed at tackling or taking account of concentrations of multiple deprivation.
    • The SIMD 2004 ranks can be used to compare data zones, the smaller the rank the more deprived the data zone.
    • The SIMD 2004 ranks can also be used to identify Scotland's most deprived small areas on the overall index and each of the individual domains, commonly by applying a cut off such as 10%, 15%, 20% etc.
    • The choice of cut off should be informed by the focus of the policy i.e. whether it aims to target areas with the very highest concentrations of deprivation or to be wider ranging.
    • Users should consider applying sensitivity analysis to determine the possible effects of a slight change in cut off before making their final decision.
    • The current income and employment domains can be used to identify absolute numbers of people who are affected by these types of deprivation in an area.
    • The index can be used to compare the extent of concentrations of deprivation within and across Local Authorities. Depending on user needs the SIMD can determine the national spread of deprivation by showing the proportion of the most deprived data zones which are in each local authority or as a measure of concentration of deprivation in a local authority by showing the proportion of an authority's areas which are in the most deprived data zones in the country.

    What can't the SIMD 2004 be used for?

    • The SIMD 2004 is a relative measure of deprivation and therefore it cannot be used to determine 'how much' more deprived one data zone is than another e.g. it is not possible to say that data zone X, ranked 50 is twice as deprived as data zone Y, ranked 100. However it is possible to say that X is more deprived than Y.
    • The SIMD scores and ranks cannot be used as absolute measures of deprivation within a data zone or to identify absolute change over time. However, absolute measures are available through the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website and the SIMD 2004 background data. Comparing the SIMD results with these indicators provides an absolute picture of the level of deprivation within the data zones.
    • The index identifies concentrations of multiple deprivation and it is important to note that not all deprived people live in deprived areas and conversely that not everyone living in deprived areas is deprived.
    • The SIMD has been produced at data zone level and therefore cannot be used to compare levels of deprivation within Local Authorities. However, it can be used to consider the extent of concentrations of deprivation within Local Authorities.
    • The SIMD 2004 is not a measure of affluence. The indicators which have been used in the SIMD are chosen for their representation of deprivation and a lack of deprivation does not necessarily equate to affluence. Therefore the data zones with the highest ranks are not necessarily affluent, just less deprived.
    • The index should be used where the aim is to wholly or partly tackle or take account of area concentrations of multiple deprivation. Users should therefore give careful consideration to the indicators and to possible cut offs before using the index for other purposes. Where policies or funding are aimed at individuals or particular aspects of deprivation it may be more appropriate to use other indicators.


    Snapshot of the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website showing a comparison between the SIMD 2004 and other income and health related variables. ©Crown Copyright

    How has the Scottish Executive used the SIMD 2004?

    • The SIMD 2004 will help the Executive to target the most deprived areas for regeneration through Regeneration Outcome Agreements and to measure progress on a range of Closing the Opportunity Gap and Spending Review targets which are aimed at the most deprived areas.
    • The Executive has used the SIMD 2004 as the principal means of allocating the Community Regeneration Fund to Community Planning Partnerships from 2005-06, focusing on the most deprived 15% of areas.
    • The most deprived 15% of areas has also been used as one element of the Supporting People allocation for 2005-06.

    Websites and contact details

    1. The SIMD 2004 interactive website, summary technical report and background data can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/SIMD2004Mapping

    2. The full technical report for the SIMD 2004 can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/SIMD2004Technical

    3. The Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website can be accessed at www.sns.gov.uk

    4. More information about Scottish Executive statistics can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/stats

    5. General questions on the SIMD 2004 can be directed to statistics.enquiries@scotland.gov.uk

    6. The Community Regeneration Fund Guidance on Regeneration Outcome Agreements can be found via http://www.communitiesscotland.gov.uk/Web/Site/Whatwedo/Communityregenerationfund.asp

    7. Information on Closing the Opportunity Gap targets can be found at: www.scotland.gov.uk/closingtheopportunitygap