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Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, is the noble Earl about to read the figures, or will he come back to them?

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, if the noble Lord will be patient, I will return to the figures in the later stages of what I have to say.

The 201 successful bids stand to attract some £1.1 billion in single regeneration budget support over their projected lifetime—that is up to seven years. The right reverend Prelate inquired about that point in wondering whether the medium term and the long term were being looked after. That £1.1 billion is expected to attract a further £2.9 billion in private investment, and a further £1.8 billion in other public investment. This is another important feature of the single regeneration budget: the extent to which it levers in or attracts resources from other contributors. Of this very substantial investment, some two-thirds will be directed into our cities.

The 201 projects which were successful in the first SRB bidding round will produce substantial benefits on the ground. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Tope, on his involvement as one of the successful first round winners. On bidders' current estimates, during their lifetime of up to seven years the projects will improve some 75,000 homes, support over 7,500 voluntary groups and support some 60,000 new businesses.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, suspected that the Government were seeking big splashes and that the glossily presented applications would stand a better

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chance than those which did not have a glossy format. I can assure the noble Baroness on both counts that that is not the case. I can also assure her that physical regeneration is not an overriding priority of the Round 1 budget. I have here the figures as they break down across the different objectives: 95 per cent. are directed to employment and training; 72 per cent. to business support; 35 per cent. to housing; 35 per cent. to ethnic minorities; 47 per cent. to crime prevention; 50 per cent. to environmental projects, and so forth. Physical regeneration is not being pursued at the expense of all other objectives.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl. I am very interested in those figures, but I wonder whether he can tell the House if the objectives were made clear to bidders and potential bidders beforehand.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I am about to come to the criteria for the bidding.

These figures relate simply to the first round of the SRB, which will start from April this year. The second bidding round will be launched later this year—once again, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, is as successful the second time as he was the first time—with £40 million available for the early approval of bids in 1996-97, and £200 million in 1997-98. The second round will produce further substantial benefits to local communities. It will also ease some of the problems of timescale that noble Lords mentioned in relation to first round applicants, who found that the timescale had been a little too fast for them. Many of the first round losers are returning to bid. The Government offices of the regions are giving them all the advice that they need to complete their second round applications.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, suggested that there was a lack of clarity and consultation, and a complete lack of guidance on the type of projects that would be acceptable. That is not true at all. The bidding guidance was subject to full consultation. There were 11 regional seminars. The guidance is not technical; it is not frightening. It is a commonsense checklist to guide bidders on how bids will be assessed. The guidance also goes into types of projects which will be acceptable, and into the size, the cost and so forth.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, and others sought assurances about whether the Government would consult the local authorities and the TECs before going into Round 2 of the SRB. We are taking stock of the first round of the SRB by talking to such organisations. We are co-operating on research and meeting with the TEC national council and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. I hope that that gives the noble Lord some assurance.

The role of the government offices has attracted some comment both in the press and briefly in the House tonight. But I stress that the new arrangements for those offices were widely welcomed by the local authorities, business and the Opposition when they were introduced in April 1994. They have been used to advise Ministers on the basis of the bidding criteria set out in the national bidding guidance and so forth. For noble Lords' information, I should say that Ministers then collectively

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take decisions on the bids, and also in consultation with the recently created ministerial committee on regeneration.

Employment has been a regular concern of many speakers today. The right reverend Prelate and the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, both mentioned specifically some of the problems in this area. The noble Baroness mentioned that the Devil makes work for idle hands. I was glad that the very next speaker was the right reverend Prelate so that we had some balance between Satan and the good Lord.

We announced following the Autumn Statement proposals to pilot a new in-work benefit for people without children on low earnings. The Budget also announced an extra £10 in family credit for full-time working families. In addition the jobseekers' agreement will be tailored to individual need; a back-to-work bonus will encourage part-time work with up to a £1,000 lump sum on transition to full-time work. In all, the package of work incentive measures announced following the Budget will help three-quarters of a million people to be better off in work.

Possibly more important than employment is housing. The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, among others, mentioned that single issue. Providing decent and affordable housing is at the heart of making our cities more attractive and competitive. We expect to exceed comfortably our 1992 commitment to supporting the provision of 153,000 housing association homes in the first three years of this Parliament. We now estimate that around 60,000 are being provided by associations this year, bringing the three-year total up to over 180,000. Over the next three years, Housing Corporation funding for housing associations should provide around 135,000 new lettings; taken together with outputs funded by local authorities and by regeneration programmes, we estimate that the grand total of new social lettings over the next three years will be around 180,000.

Our investment in social housing and local authorities' efforts to tackle the problem of homelessness are bearing fruit. The third quarter of 1994 was the 10th in succession to show a drop in the number of households needing to be rehoused by local authorities through the statutory homelessness provisions. The use of bed and breakfast accommodation is dropping even more sharply: it's down by 24 per cent. over the past year. Bed and breakfast now accounts for only 10 per cent. of all households in temporary accommodation. We hope to see that progress continue.

The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, referred specifically to the position of ethnic minority communities in inner city areas. I know that that is an issue of great interest to other noble Lords in the Chamber. Well over a third of the successful bids in the first single regeneration bidding round have as a significant objective the support of ethnic minority communities. The type of support ranges from funding for business starts to specific health and housing initiatives and the provision of community facilities. The extent of support for ethnic minority communities varies from region to region. For example,

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in London 83 bids were received which embodied the specific objective of supporting members of ethnic minority communities. Of those 83, 35 were successful. This means that 35 of the total of 49 successful bids in London contained measures of specific benefit to ethnic minority communities. This support through new SRB funding is in addition to the continuing funding of ethnic minority community initiatives arising through existing commitments on programmes such as Section 11, the ethnic minority business initiative and ethnic minority grant. It is worth pointing out that even where a project does not have the support of ethnic minority communities as a specific objective, two-thirds of SRB resources will be targeted to the urban areas where there are above average concentrations of ethnic minority communities.

We are determined that SRB resources should benefit the communities for which they are intended. For this reason, the government offices for the regions require SRB partnerships to make effective arrangements to ensure that those sections of the community intended to benefit from support do so. The guidance on the preparation of delivery plans specifically lays down that practical steps should be taken to ensure that co-operation with the voluntary sector and priority to work with ethnic minority communities are, where appropriate, carried through into practical action on the ground.

Two or three noble Lords have expressed concern about the fate of Section 11-funded projects. It may help if I give some background. Funding has been cut. In November 1992 the then Home Secretary was driven to conclude, with regret, that due to the general economic situation, in particular the Exchequer deficit and the consequent need for further control of public expenditure, it would not be possible to sustain the level of Section 11 expenditure that had been planned. But local authorities were given over 16 months' notice before any reduction would need to take effect in 1994-95 in order to consider how to react to the changed funding situation. In practice, we are pleased to see that over 60 per cent. of authorities have been able to make good the shortfall in funding to enable projects to continue at their original level. The Home Secretary hopes to announce the results of the Section 11 bidding round by the end of this month. Resources for the Section 11 bidding round have been doubled from £15 million to £30 million as a result of additional funds being contributed by the Home Office, the Department for Education and the Department of the Environment.

Health has been a recurring theme in this afternoon's debate. The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Fisher and Lady Hamwee, have mentioned air pollution and asthma. As many of your Lordships know at first hand, the special circumstances of inner cities and their residents call for special measures. The Department of Health has produced guidance for local authorities to draw attention to the need to take account of the problems of living in the inner cities when assessing needs in relation to community care plans. This year the Department of Health is organising a conference on the causes of

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asthma and what can be done to alleviate its effects. Consequently, there is sensitivity to the specific needs of inner cities through the guidance documents.


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