Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda


APPENDIX 1 (GRI 17(i))

1.  BRIGHTON URBAN

Key findings from the URBAN programme evaluation:

    —  If communities are to be fully involved in the design and implementation of regeneration programmes, adequate community development support must be built in from the start, before and in parallel to the development of the Action Plan. If match funding is part of the programme, community development should be exempt or fully matched by public sector partners. Resources need to be provided up front for capacity building and community involvement.

    —  Adequate time should be allowed for involving communities in developing a vision and planning the programme, particularly where hard-to-reach communities are to be involved.

    —  Communities should be fully involved in defining and negotiating "what counts": the framework of outputs and criteria for evaluation.

    —  There is a need to address the tension between the need to account for public money and the importance of flexibility if new approaches are to be found to social exclusion and if communities are to be fully involved.

  Many respondents interviewed as part of this evaluation felt that communities were excluded and alienated by over-complicated and bureaucratic processes. Furthermore, many respondents felt that the amount of time spent on completing monitoring and collecting detailed information took funds away from front-line work.

    —  Strategies for sustainability need to be built in from the start.

2.  THE HANGLETON & KNOLL SRB2 PROGRAMME

    —  Empowerment of the community is an essential prerequisite in maximising the impact of regeneration programmes. The Hangleton & Knoll Project placed great emphasis on a programme designed by the community, for the community and delivered by the community. The evaluation concluded that the success of community-led regeneration programmes is likely to be greater where there is an emphasis placed on partnership working with local residents and the building of community capacity.

3.  LESSONS LEARNT FROM SRB PROGRAMMES GENERALLY:

    —  Lengthy lead-in times for regeneration programmes/projects should be taken fully into account and funding allocated to ensure robust project development and community involvement;

    —  With regard to projects set up to encourage lifelong learning, government should recognise that the emphasis on achieving qualifications (which necessitates) considerable form-filling) can be very off putting to the very individuals who need to be engaged in any form of learning. Particularly for people who have had a poor experience of education and those with mental health or substance misuse problems where a more flexible approach is more likely to achieve long-term benefits.

    —  There needs to be greater flexibility built into regeneration programmes, particularly those where funding is agreed for a programme designed to last for several years. Changing need (coupled with other changes taking place in an area) may result in changes in priorities and programmes need to allow for this.

    —  A greater emphasis should be placed on evaluating outcomes as opposed to assessing projects on their ability to meet outputs.

    —  For SRB-funded projects where there is a requirement for appraisals to be conducted by RDAs, both time and public money would be saved if RDAs agreed to joint appraisals with Regeneration Partnerships.

    —  Regeneration programmes should encourage (and fund) project development in advance of spend period to avoid slippage.

4.  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

  There is a need to recognise the investment the investment required to develop, facilitate and project manage major regeneration and infrastructure projects. Far too often, the costs of legal and financial advice is not considered at an early enough stage leaving authorities with limited resources and over-stretched professional business services (ie lawyers and accountants etc).

  An ever-increasing constraint faced by Local Authorities to local economic development is the confusion and barriers on State Aid, the interpretation and use of Section 123 of the Local Government's Act 1972, procurement and competition rules and land disposal within a "Best Consideration" framework.

  The attached paper "Sweating the Equity", authored by Sarah Tanburn, Director Culture & Regeneration, provides some illustrations to these issues.

  Our local business partners have often criticised the government, RDAs' and other regeneration partnerships for their slow decision making processes. This accompanied with changes in the landscape for funding streams—TEC/LSC, GOSE/SEEDA and the transition from SRB to so called Single pot may create a new round of headaches, bureaucracies and a maze to work through—this constrains, delays and complicates regeneration activity (come consistency would be useful).

Innovation is too often a key criteria for funding streams, ruling out many tried and tested and successful programmes and projects.

  Co-financing for the European Social Fund is going in the right direction for government in reducing the perpetual scrabble around for match-funding (now as much an issue for cash strapped local authorities as it is for the voluntary/community sector), but there is still a long way to go with other funding streams.



 
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