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6505 shades of multiple deprivation

Where would we be without league tables?

Schools with the best exam results, Trip Advisor's best restaurants, the 50 most historic moments from Coronation Street.

Some are less cheery, such as Scottish hospitals with the highest surgical death rates. (The NHS in England is going further with a ranking of individual surgeons with the highest rate of patient death under the knife.) Anyway, you might like to have a peek at the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). It is on a nice and shiny Government website with many bells and whistles.

It has an app, of course. A mapping app which answers the question: "How deprived is your area?" Just key in your post code to see if you live in one of 6505 bits (or "datazones" as they are known) of Scotland that are multiply deprived.

Folk in the Ferguslie Park datazone in Paisley will find they are top-ranked deprivation-wise. Possil Park in Glasgow is second.

The people who live in the datazones at the top end of the SIMD don't need to be told they live in deprived areas. They can tell from indicators that the deprivation index does not measure. Such as the number of free-range feral Alsatians per hectare. The ratio of houses with corrugated iron curtains. The incidence of training shoes hanging from the wires in the street.

Some statistics are not on the SIMD. How many children go to school without breakfast. How many parents don't even get out of bed to see the children off to school. How many children don't have a warm winter coat. In how many households most of the budget goes on drugs and alcohol.

So what do we learn from the SIMD? That a huge number of the people in these datazones are "income deprived". They have high levels of unemployment. They get about by bus rather than car. They have fewer educational qualifications. Glasgow is three times more "health deprived" than anywhere else. As Michael Caine says, not a lot of people know that.

So what is the point of the index? "By identifying small areas where there are concentrations of multiple deprivation, the SIMD can be used to target policies and resources at the places with greatest need."

Or the Government could spend less money gathering statistics and more on hot breakfasts and warm coats for the weans in the datazones.

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