It’s official. A Government report reveals that Tunbridge Wells is the best place to live in the county when measured by the level of ‘deprivation’.
Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is headed by MP Greg Clark, show the local authority is the ‘least deprived’ in Kent. Swale and Thanet are named as the most deprived.
Researchers took into account income, employment, health, education and training, crime, living environment and barriers to social housing.
Deprivation is seen as the damaging lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society.
However, the rating can be a double-edged sword as it can be used when distributing funding or targeting resources to an area.
A spokesperson for the borough council also told the Times it was not necessarily ‘an indicator of how affluent a place is.’
The breakdown forms part of the department’s nationwide Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015 survey.
Each authority is ranked from 1 (most deprived) to 12 (least deprived); Tunbridge Wells scored 12, placing it above both Tonbridge (11) and Sevenoaks (10).
The strong performance by Tunbridge Wells could be seen as hampering those aiming to tackle pockets of deprivation as it means funding is more likely to be directed elsewhere.
Documents published alongside the report state: “National and local organisations use the Index of Multiple Deprivation, sometimes in conjunction with other data, to distribute funding or target resources to areas.
“Locally, it is often used as evidence in the development of strategies, to target interventions, and in bids for funding.
“The voluntary and community sector also uses the index, for example, to identify areas where people may benefit from the services they provide.”
Dawn Stanford, project manager at the town’s Nourish food bank, which helps those in crisis, said it was ‘fantastic’ the borough scored so highly.
But she acknowledged the perception of Tunbridge Wells as a place of affluence was mainly held by those from outside.