Swindon is less deprived than most English towns, but levels of under-privilege, compared to the rest of the country, have risen over the last four years.

In a report to Swindon Borough Council's health and wellbeing board, interim director of public health, Ayoola Oyinloye said: “Swindon is ranked 98 out of 151 local authorities where one is the worst, but that’s down from 108 in 2015.

“We’re not quite sure whether that’s because things have got worse in Swindon, or because other areas are improving faster than here.

"We think it’s the second thing. London for example, has improved rapidly - particularly in east London with regeneration after the 2012 Olympics.

Tower Hamlets has really come up the rankings.”

One worrying statistic in the updated assessment is that more neighbourhoods are falling into the most serious levels of deprivation.

In 2018 there were eight local areas in the most deprived 10 per cent neighbourhoods in England.

This year there are 12 such areas.

Four are in Penhill and Upper Stratton ward, four in Walcot and Park North with two in Gorse Hill and Pinehurst and two in Liden, Eldene and Park South.

The worst of the neighbourhoods in Swindon is in Penhill, and is the 701 most deprived area out of 33,000 across the whole of England.

Dr Oyinloye emphasised: “These are descriptions of areas, but they do not apply to every individual.

"Many non-deprived people live in deprived areas and there are many deprived people living in areas of low deprivation.”

Committee chairman David Renard asked why this was happening.

He said: "It might be useful to have this information, and to know the causes, but it must be used to improve the situation.

“This work must be about improving things for residents, not just gathering information.

“I want to see us moving into making a difference in the next couple of years,” he added.

Dr Oyinloye told the committee that education, training and skills was where the town was weakest.

Although it has improved 13 places since 2015, the borough is the 60th most deprived out of 151 local authorities.

The borough council has an officer working on financial and social inclusion.

It works with the Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union, with regular collection points in some of the less affluent neighbourhoods.

It has helped in the creation of money mentors to give advice and has run campaigns against loan sharks operating in the area.