Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
TUESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2001
QC, MIKE GAHAGAN,
120. Will there be any more new deal for communities
schemes? (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) No. The 39 are
the end of selected areas but those 39 go on for a period of around
ten years so there will be more money as the years go on for those
121. Yet, the national strategy for neighbourhood
renewal that came out in 1988 clearly said there was little evidence
of mainstream programmes helping the needs of poor areas. Do you
think that has now changed? How will you monitor it? (Lord
Falconer of Thoroton) I do not think it has adequately changed,
but the programme set out in the national strategy for neighbourhood
renewal was for a change that would take 10 to 20 years to make
the progress described in that national strategy. It is early
days. £900 million for the neighbourhood renewal fund is
designed to give local authorities the means whereby they can
adjust their mainstream programmes to make sure more money is
targeted at deprived areas.
122. There is some evidence that they are using
that funding for mainstream expenditure. Have you detected that? (Lord
Falconer of Thoroton) I have seen some evidence that they
are using it, for example, in main stream social services budgets.
I do not know how widespread that is. At the end of last month,
we sent out to each local authority with neighbourhood renewal
fund money something called a statement of use document in which
they were going to tell us precisely what they had been doing
with the money over the last six months, so we will have a better
idea then, but it is critical that the decisions that are made
on that money are made by local authorities. It is not for us
to ring fence the money or give specific directions about how
the money is used. We have made it clear we want it used in neighbourhood
renewal but the decisions in relation to that have to be with
the local authorities.
Christine Russell: Can I ask you about the general
principle of neighbourhood renewal? Do you believe that every
neighbourhood can be renewed? I say that in the light of the experience
that Members of this Committee have had who have been working
on the empty homes inquiry.
123. You have just visited Burnley Wood, have
you not? (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I went to east
Lancashire. I did not get to Burnley Wood.
124. I thought they were hoping that you would
have followed us round. (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)
I went to Pendle, Rossendale and Accrington. That is a very difficult
question. I am not sure that every single neighbourhood can be
renewed. The national strategy at the beginning identified the
fact that there are thousands and thousands of deprived neighbourhoods
in the country. Are you going to renew all of them? No, you are
not. Those that you will renew you will renew by improving the
quality of services that goes to those and it will be dealt with
in a coordinated way, by connecting them with some form of economic
125. Do you feel that government funding should
go to those worst neighbourhoods or should it go to those that
are on the brink, just slipping into decline? (Lord Falconer
of Thoroton) I think that is an impossible question to answer.
It depends on the particular place and the particular community.
The national strategy is saying let the relevant local authorities
decide what their strategy should be. Let them identify which
of the neighbourhoods in their area they want to really work with.
Reach agreement with central government, the private sector, the
other statutory providers, so they can work together to deliver
whatever the aims for the particular neighbourhoods decided locally
to be helped are. I do not think it is for central government
to decide which should be particularly helped and which not.
126. Surely you do have a responsibility to
give out guidelines. When we were in the north west, some of the
evidence that we were given by Government Office North West was
quite clearly that they felt the money should go rather to those
areas that are just fragile, perhaps on the slippery slope but
are not the worst areas. You will have to give some guidance. (Lord
Falconer of Thoroton) That may be right but if the relevant
players in the area, the local authorities and statutory providers,
the business community and voluntary community sector, having
got together and addressed the issue, conclude the right course
is to go for that deprived area which is much worse than another
because they think there is good reason for doing so, is that
not a sensible course. I think the Committee has been to Hulme.
It was Hulme that was an area that was very low down the scale.
It was not an area simply on the turn. It was in much worse shape
than that. There is widespread agreement that Hulme is an area
which has been substantially turned round as a result of the various
measures that were taken there, in part, because Hulme was quite
close to the centre of Manchester, and therefore Hulme could be
connected to economic prosperity. I do not think it is right to
say areas on the turn are the areas one has to focus on. It will
vary from place to place and local decisions have to be taken
about what the right strategy is in a particular place.
127. Can I ask you another controversial question
which is: do you believe that there is any long term futureyou
have just mentioned Hulmefor these large, single tenure
council estates? (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) All the
work that has been done suggests that large, single tenure areas
are ones that are most vulnerable to market failure and deprivation.
They are very difficult to help, more difficult than areas in
mixed tenure. That does not mean that they are all remotely beyond
help. I think some can be helped but it is a difficulty.
128. City Challenge: some successes? Some failures?
Would you like to tell us one or two of the A-pluses and one or
two of the D-minuses? (Ms Bridges) City Challenge did
have some pretty dramatic outputs. (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)
Hulme started as a City Challenge.
129. The trouble is that every time I ask about
City Challenge I am always told about Hulme, so I want to hear
about some others and I would also like a little bit of honesty
about the ones that went wrong. (Ms Bridges) I do not
think any went wrong. Hulme is the one everybody talks about because
there is such a visual success.
130. Is that implying that it is not a success
in other terms? (Ms Bridges) No, I do not think so.
I think one of Hulme's big successes is that it has created a
mixed community with mixed tenure and a wide variety of different
people who have a stake in the future of their area. That is why
it is an important one.
131. What about the ones that have not succeeded? (Ms
Bridges) There were 31 City Challenge partnerships and they
operated between 1992 and 1998, as you probably know. They did
spend well over 200 million in each of their targeted areas, so
they were big programmes.
132. I understand that. I am looking for the
successes and the failures. (Ms Bridges) The round
one ones were Bethnal Green, Bradford, Derner Valley, Deptford,
Hulme, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Nottingham, Wirral
and Wolverhampton. They all led to a step change in
133. They were all successes? (Ms Bridges)
It depends what you mean by a success. Yes, they all were.
134. Presumably one hallmark of success would
be that they would not become subsequent candidates for further
bouts of neighbourhood renewal funding and so on. In my experience,
many of the areas in City Challenge are now the same candidates
for the new funds as well. How would you define success? Surely
success is escaping the need to be funded by large, grand regimes
of regeneration planning? (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)
One of the most striking things about visiting places is you go
and the local authority will make a presentation to you. They
will have a map on the wall and it will have the city broken down
into wards with various coloured dots on the wards. Most of the
coloured dots are in the same place. They represent City Challenge
money, single regeneration budget money, HAT money. Then you are
taken usually to the place with the most dots in it which remains
broadly untouched in two senses. One, the housing remains just
as bad and, two, there is no connection with economic prosperity
that might provide what you are saying, which is a sustainable
future for the community.
135. I am aware from personal experience of
the Bootle City Challenge and there were appreciable infrastructure
developments but many of the areas that fell within the City Challenge
area are now attracting again very high levels of grant on the
basis of indices of deprivation. One thing that was felt very
strongly at the time was the limitations on the scheme in terms
of what could and could not be funded within it and exactly what
geographical areas the money could be spent within was a serious
handicap. If educational facilities were off limits, outside the
actual deprivation area, those educational facilities did not
get funded and would not be beneficial for the area. Similarly
with economic boosts. Economic boosts had to go in within the
geographical boundaries. Therefore, the same area is not attracting
economic investment and is still now largely deprived. (Lord
Falconer of Thoroton) You need, in looking to see how you
spend regeneration money, to make sure that there is a joined
up plan, but also a plan that connects the area to some sort of
136. Or give the flexibility that Clive Betts
mentioned before? (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Yes.
137. Hulme was a success because the area does
not need any more money but almost all the others were in some
measure failures? (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I am
not in a position to say that. I do not know.
138. Who did the evaluation for you? (Lord
Falconer of Thoroton) The programme was subject to an evaluation
by KPMG Consulting.
139. Which did they say were the failures? (Lord
Falconer of Thoroton) I do not know but it is published on