TEST Valley sits in the richest half of councils in England, according to official statistics.

But social inequality charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says large portions of the country have been "locked out" of jobs and opportunities, after Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures revealed pockets of deprivation across England.

Government officials ranked each local authority from one to 317, with low numbers indicating higher levels of deprivation.

The rankings use the most up-to-date data on income, employment, education, health and crime, as well as housing services and the environment, to assess more than 32,800 small areas or neighbourhoods across England.

Test Valley was placed 261st in the table nationally, and 39th for the South East.

None of the area's neighbourhoods appear among the 10% most deprived nationally.

The local authorities with the five highest proportions of deprived neighbourhoods are all in the north – no change from the previous statistics in 2015.

But part of the seaside village Jaywick, in Essex, was named the country's single most deprived neighbourhood for the third time in a row.

Mike Hawking, policy and partnerships manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warned that poor communities were "tired of being overlooked".

"The lack of well-paid jobs, affordable housing and access to reliable transport links are holding people back from achieving their full potential," he said.

"Tackling the fundamental injustice of regional inequalities in our society must be a top priority for the Government.

"Voters on low incomes are frustrated at the consistent failure of all political parties to take decisive action to address this issue.

"Ministers must urgently bring forward a bold plan of regional investment through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and target funding to provide the jobs and skills that people need to succeed."

An MHCLG spokesman said: "The Government is committed to levelling across the country and with unemployment levels continuing to fall and wages rising at their fastest in over a decade, we're committed to supporting families with their cost of living.

"We're providing more support to the most deprived authorities, which now have a spending power 16% higher per home than the least deprived."