Figures released last week reveal a four per cent rise in deprivation in Midlothian, one of only ten local authority areas to see an increase.
However, Midlothian Council has questioned comparisons in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), which is published every four years to provide the government and local authorities with information aimed at helping tackle the problem.
The index breaks Scotland down into 6,976 “datazones”, effectively small postcode areas of which Midlothian has 114, and ranks levels of deprivation there on seven criteria: income, employment, health, education, housing, access to services and crime.
For the local share of the 20 per cent most deprived data zones in Scotland, Midlothian has gone up from seven per cent in 2012 to 11 per cent this year. Only West Dumbartonshire had a higher percentage rise, of five per cent.
Datazones in Straiton and Bonnyrigg South now fall into the top 20 per cent, with the remaining 11 clustered in Dalkeith ,Mayfield and Gorebridge .
A Council spokeswoman said: “These three areas where there are clusters of deprivation are already identified in the Midlothian Community planning partnership’s Single Midlothian Plan.
“Looking forward, significant new investment along the Borders Rail line and Midlothian’s membership of the Edinburgh Region ‘City Deal’ will further support residents access to work and inward investment in local employment.
“Skills Development Scotland and the council are working together with other providers across the college, private and voluntary sector to increase the positive destinations of school leavers and this work has targeted the secondary schools serving these areas. Midlothian has seen destinations of school leavers rise consistently for six years since the economic downturn as a result of this close partnership and aspires to go further.
“The NHS has targeted the same areas with staffing and support for local work on food and health, smoking, physical activity, self help support groups on mental health and well-being. In each area there are committed and active citizens involved as volunteers in a wide range of groups including the three community councils.”
The council added that direct comparisons of indicators between 2016 and previous years “are not possible as the boundaries differ from previous SIMD editions.”