Information relating to Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD): FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. Does the Scottish Government produce the SIMD and did it produce the SIMD most recently in 2020?

2. What resources, human, financial, and in-kind, did the Scottish Government allocate to the production of the SIMD in 2020?

3. What departments from the Scottish Government are allocated to working on producing the SIMD?

4. How many man hours were allocated to the production of the 2020 SIMD?

5. What steering groups, working groups and statistical groups were formed by the Scottish Government to produce the SIMD for 2020 and what were the terms of reference for these groups?

6. Was an impact study (or relevant equivalent) undertaken or commissioned by the Scottish Government prior to, or during the compilation of the SIMD, and if so, what financial resources were allocated to this? Specifically, did this study look at comparing the progress of areas out of the SIMD areas from the 2016 report?


1. The Scottish Government has produced the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation in-house since 2004, with the most recent update published in 2020.

2. The development work was carried out by a team of three statisticians from the Scottish Government Communities Analytical Division. The access to services domain was developed by an analyst in the Scottish Government Geographic Information Science and Analysis team.

The process of producing SIMD takes about 18 months to collate, process and quality assure the data, and produce the supporting documents and resources. Processing the data for the access to services domain took about six months.

The costs of producing the resources associated with SIMD (publications and website development) was £5,000. The cost of producing the access domain was £13,000. This does not include staff costs.

3. In addition to the core team within the Scottish Government, SIMD involves processing data for over 30 indicators from a range of data providers:

  • Scottish Government Education Analytical Services
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  • National Records of Scotland
  • NHS Scotland Information Services Division
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Higher Education Statistics Agency
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • Police Scotland
  • Ofcom

4. It is not possible to quantify the actual number of person hours involved in production as this information is not centrally recorded and, as noted above, would be spread across a number of organisations.

5. The SIMD update project began in late 2017 by revisiting a substantial review done in 2013 and 2014 to inform the development of SIMD 2016. This was overseen by the Measuring Deprivation Advisory Group (MDAG), which was made up of a combination of data suppliers and users of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. The group provided advice on issues such as the needs of users; development priorities; methodological options; quality of outputs; and dissemination and guidance on the use of outputs. The MDAG papers and more information on the group's remit can be found at

Given the scale of the review, it was decided to build on that development work for SIMD 2020, while keeping the final product fairly consistent with SIMD 2016. An internal advisory panel was set up in Scottish Government to provide a sounding board for the development plan and help shape the dissemination and communication strategy. This involved officials from regeneration, economic development, community planning and rural policy areas.

There is also a long-standing four nations working group, involving analysts who produce the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish indices of multiple deprivation. This working group serves to share insights and learning across the UK.

6. The quality assurance process for SIMD 2020 consisted of checks at various stages of the process:

  • indicator quality assurance conducted by data providers and the SIMD team
  • indicator assurance conducted by local authority analysts
  • domain quality assurance conducted by external partners with experience of the domain subject.

A large part of the quality assurance consisted of comparing the new domain ranks with SIMD 2016 domain ranks and identifying any large or unexpected movements.

SIMD measures relative deprivation, so changes in SIMD rank for one area may be due to other areas becoming more or less deprived. The SIMD 2020 introductory booklet presented an analysis of deeprooted deprivation looking at areas which have consistently been among the 5% most deprived in Scotland since SIMD 2004. The booklet also included an analysis of change for local authority areas relative to their local share of data zones among the 20% most deprived in Scotland. These analysis can be found on the Scottish Government SIMD web section at

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