Overview: which places are disadvantaged?

People are not all affected equally by the same climate-related event, whether heat waves or floods. Some places are more likely to be exposed to a flood or heat wave and also have populations which are more socially vulnerable than others. These locations are where there is most climate disadvantage and where the impacts from events may be the most extreme. To tackle climate disadvantage effectively, consideration needs to be given to measures to reduce social vulnerability as well as reducing exposure of the population to an event.

The pattern of climate disadvantaged locations varies across the UK with urban and coastal areas tending to be among the most disadvantaged places. This was true in 20011 and an assessment for England in 2011 suggests that patterns remain similar now. Revised, finer-scale work on flood vulnerability and disadvantage has since been produced2. This shows similar headlines to our previous work, but there are additional insights in relation to UK distributions, future trends and different geographical zones (such as rural areas). See our detailed message for more information. The maps in the map tool show that therere are also distinct patterns in the regional distribution of social vulnerability and disadvantage. All regions of Engparts of the UK land have some of their neighbourhoods associated with extreme flood and heat disadvantage, but some places regions fare worse than others.

  • Review the results. There are four types of maps that you can review:
    • Maps showing which people and places are most exposed to particular climate-related hazards (river and coastal flooding, surface water flooding and high temperatures).
    • Maps showing which people and places are most vulnerable to particular climate-related hazards (flooding and heat).
    • Combined maps showing how exposure and vulnerability coincide to create climate disadvantage (river and coastal flooding, surface water flooding and high temperatures).
    • Maps showing elements of vulnerability, including each of the separate indicators which have been used in the index. You can tailor these maps to understand how the characteristics of people in places in your area may affect social vulnerability and climate disadvantage. Section 1 of the detailed message has further information about what ideas underpin the maps and the range of information which can be obtained through this resource.
  • See our summary explanations for each individual indicator used. While not all factors known to affect vulnerability can be easily measured, a number of them can be mapped using direct and proxy indicators.
  • Find out more about climate disadvantage and social vulnerability and what each reveals about who is most affected by climate-related events.
  • See our list of limitations which highlight some of the issues that you need to consider when using the mapped data and suggestions about how some of the limitations can be overcome.
  • See our suggested actions for responding to the evidence. General and specific actions have been listed for specific vulnerable groups.


  1. Lindley, S., O’Neill, J., Kandeh, J., Lawson, N., Christian, R. & O’Neill M. (2011) Climate change, justice and vulnerability, Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report, York.
  2. Sayers, P.B., Horritt, M., Penning Rowsell, E., and Fieth, J. (2017). Present and future flood vulnerability, risk and disadvantage: A UK scale assessment. A report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published by Sayers and Partners LLP