Community Needs Index indicators now in Community Insight


Community Insight is the first platform to publish the new Community Needs Index, which can be used to help policymakers target investment in social infrastructure.

Introducing our newest set of indicators in Community Insight: Community Needs Index (CNI). This suite of indicators has been produced by OCSI to measure social and cultural factors that can contribute to poorer life outcomes. OCSI was commissioned by Local Trust to develop a quantitative measure of ‘left-behind’ areas (you can read the full publication to find out more about the research). As part of this, we developed a Community Needs Index, the first composite indicator of its kind, looking at the social and cultural factors that can contribute to poorer life outcomes.

We have included four new datasets in Community Insight; the scores for each individual domain and the overall CNI. In each case, a higher score indicates higher levels of community need.

  • Community Needs Index: Civic Assets score
  • Community Needs Index: Connectedness score
  • Community Needs Index: Active and Engaged Community score
  • Community Needs Index: Community Needs Score

This blog will provide more information on the data and how you can explore it in Community Insight.

About the data 

The CNI is particularly exciting as it gives a different perspective to more economically based measures of local need and is a useful measure in and of itself to help policymakers target investment in social infrastructure. 

The index has been developed at ward level after significant consultation and debate. The principal reason for selecting wards as the units of analysis as opposed to Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) was that wards align more closely with community boundaries and are of a sufficient size to cover locally recognised neighbourhoods. There is, of course, a potential risk that this can mask variations in community need at a very local level. We have run the same analysis at LSOA level and the results are broadly consistent with the ward level data. 

The index covers 19 indicators, across three domains;

  • Civic Assets: Measures the presence of key community, civic, educational and cultural assets in close proximity of the area. These include pubs, libraries, green space, community centres, swimming pools – facilities that provide things to do often, at no or little cost, which are important to how positive a community feels about its area.
  • Connectedness: Measures the connectivity to key services, digital infrastructure, isolation and strength of the local jobs market. It looks at whether residents have access to key services, such as health services, within a reasonable travel distance. It considers how good public transport and digital infrastructure are and how strong the local job market is.
  • Active and Engaged Community: Measures the levels of third sector civic and community activity and barriers to participation and engagement. It shows whether charities are active in the area and whether people appear to be engaged in the broader civic life of their community.

For a more detailed look at the indicators included within the CNI, please have a flick through the slides below.

Using the data in Community Insight 

This figure shows the Community Needs score in the East of England where the need is particularly high, especially around the agricultural Fen areas near the Wash.

This figure shows the Community Needs score in the East of England where the need is particularly high, especially around the agricultural Fen areas near the Wash

Technical information

Please note, the Community Needs Index indicators are only in Community Insight England. There is no data available for Community Insight Wales or Scotland.

As the data was developed at Ward level, we have apportioned the data in order to be able to include it within Community Insight at standard geographies. The ward score was copied down to Output Area level (every OA in the ward got the same score) and then aggregated to all higher geographies using population-weighted aggregation.

Where an LSOA fits exactly in a ward it will also have the same score as the ward it fits in. Where an LSOA cuts across wards e.g. 60% of people in the LSOA lived in ward A and 40% in Ward B it would get 60% of ward A’s score and 40% of ward B’s score.


Across all four indicators, a higher score indicates higher levels of community need. These new indicators will not be shown on the Map by default, the Group Admin users can add these datasets to the maps using the Manage Indicators functionality. To do so, search the Unassigned theme for the indicator names, drag and drop them into a theme and then tick to show on the map.


All users can use the build a custom dashboard functionality to build dashboards that explore how different areas compare on these indicators. When building a custom dashboard, use the search bar to find the Community Needs Index indicators.


This new suite of indicators will be in any newly requested reports and can be found on page 70.

All Data Download

These indicators will also be added to the All Data Download in the next update which is due to take place at the end of November 2019.


If you have any questions on these datasets, or suggestions for new ones to add, please get in touch on