POVERTY in Oxford has declined after millions of pounds were ploughed into the poorest estates, but new statistics still expose a city of two stark halves.

The Government has released new deprivation figures, updated from 2015, which reveal 18 areas of Oxfordshire that rank in the top 20 per cent most deprived areas in England.

Although 4,110 children are still classed as living 'in poverty' in Oxford, this is one thousand less than in 2015 - a reduction of 20 per cent.

Regeneration has been credited for improvement in the Rose Hill and Iffley ward, which is no longer in the top 10 per cent most-deprived areas in England, but some residents still have concerns about cash-strapped families going hungry.

Just one pocket of the city and county as a whole - a part of Greater Leys called Northfield Brook - remains among the worst-deprived areas in England.

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Susan Brown said despite 'pleasing' progress compared to four years ago, the gap between the city's rich and poor still exists.

The Oxford City Council leader said: "Oxford is an exciting, dynamic and booming city, but it has always been a city of two halves - of haves and have-nots.

"It has been the council’s mission for a long time to tackle this inequality."

In 2015, both Rose Hill and Iffley and Northfield Brook ranked in the top 10 per cent of England's most-deprived areas.

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Knights Road in Northfield Brook. Picture: Google Maps

The latter is still in that category, but the former has fallen to the top 20 per cent.

Below Northfield Brook, the most deprived areas are in: Banbury Ruscote, Rose Hill and Iffley, Blackbird Leys, Banbury Cross and Neithrop, Banbury Grimsbury and Hightown, Carfax in Oxford, Barton and Sandhills, Caldecott in Abingdon and Littlemore.

The figures do not necessarily relate to the entire ward, rather a smaller area or areas within that ward.

In 2015, 13 areas of the county were in the top 20 most-deprived, which his increased to 18.

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The city council has admitted that lower deprivation in Oxford could be due to residents moving elsewhere in Oxfordshire to escape high living costs.

Ms Brown said: "Oxford’s local authorities, businesses, charities and community groups are working together to create the circumstances within which a large number of people can raise themselves out of poverty.

"There is still a long way to go."

The Government's Indices of Deprivation is released every four years, and factors in income, employment, education, health, crime and housing.

Overall, Oxford has improved from being the 166th most deprived local authority across England in 2015, to 182th in 2019.

South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and West Oxfordshire remain among the least deprived districts, but Cherwell has become more deprived.

Oxford City Council has invested millions into the city’s most deprived communities, including Barton, Rose Hill, Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys.

This included £9m on the Leys Pools and Leisure Centre, which opened in 2015, £5m on Rose Hill Community Centre, which opened in 2016, and £1m on Barton Neighbourhood Centre, which Prince Harry opened this year.

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Eleanor Watts said the new Rose Hill community centre has played a 'hugely important role' in regeneration and she considers the neighbourhood a 'great place to live'.

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The centre is home to an advice centre, food bank, cafe, gym, English classes and neighbourhood police officers.

She said: "The staff [at the centre] are friendly, skilled and dedicated to including all the diverse members of the community.

"Rose Hill also has a thriving primary school, the lovely woodland of Rivermead Nature Park, a spacious recreation ground, a well-maintained playground and the Lenthall Road Allotments.

"The community comes together in all these common spaces."

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The Rose Hill resident of 13 years credited organisations such as Rose Hill Junior Youth Club for engaging young people in positive activities.

However, she added: "We should not forget that there is still great deprivation in Rose Hill, with many living in fuel and food poverty - the food bank is an essential resource to many.

"Since the cost of renting in Oxford is so high, many people live in poorly maintained and crowded houses of multiple occupation."

In Oxford, there are no longer any local areas in the bottom 10 per cent for income deprivation, compared to three areas in 2015.

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Twelve areas across Headington, Jericho, Marston, North Oxford, Quarry and Risinghurst, and Wolvercote now rank in the 10 per cent least-deprived places in England’s, compared to seven in 2015.

However, educational attainment among children remains a significant issue in Oxford, with 11 areas among the most educationally-deprived in England.

An area within Carfax and another in Littlemore have become more deprived in general.

Ms Brown said Oxford has an 'exciting future' as 'huge investment' is made, but added: "We need to ensure that everyone can benefit from that economic success, and that chances are there for local people to improve their skills and income levels.

"We need to ensure that young people are able to afford to live near their places of work, their friends, and their family, and are not forced out because they can’t afford to live here."