Area classifications group together geographic areas according to important characteristics common to the population in that grouping. These groupings are called clusters and are derived using census data. The area classifications are hierarchical classifications, consisting of three tiers: supergroups, groups and subgroups.
The first of the 2011 area classifications to be published was the 2011 area classification for output areas (2011 OAC), which was produced by an external partner, University College London. Following on from this, a 2011 area classification for local authorities and a 2011 area classification for health areas have been published.
One further 2011 UK area classification is still planned for release in late 2017 or early 2018 – the 2011 area classification for super output areas, covering lower layer super output areas for England and Wales, data zones for Scotland, and super output areas for Northern Ireland. When published, this area classification will complete the planned updates to area classifications using 2011 Census data.
Consideration will also be given to updating the 2011 Census-based area classifications in the future using non-census data sources.