Area classifications group together geographic areas according to key 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 is 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 has been published.
Two further 2011 UK Area Classifications are planned for release this year: (1) health areas, and (2) Super Output Areas (SOA), covering Lower Layer SOAs (LSOA) for England and Wales, Data Zones (DZ) for Scotland, and SOAs for Northern Ireland. When published, these area classifications 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 periodically in the future using non-census data sources.