Commission for Racial Equality
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CRE reveals the human cost of regeneration

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has used its official powers to hold a Formal Investigation into regeneration schemes in England, Scotland and Wales. In this, one of the most important pieces of work carried out by the CRE in its 30 year history, the impact of these schemes on local communities has been revealed.

The report, which will be launched on September 26, highlights the hidden human cost of regeneration schemes. Regeneration is about shaping the communities of tomorrow. It is about securing social justice and sustainable futures for all. Billions of pounds of public money are being invested to create brighter futures for some of the most deprived areas in this country. However, this investigation has revealed that the communities that these schemes are affecting are not being properly involved in the process.

Julia Chain, CRE Commissioner and head of the investigation, said:

This investigation has highlighted that organisations involved in spending huge sums to transform communities are often not looking at which groups will benefit and what the impact will be on community relations. Although some positive examples could be found, it is clear that there is some way to go before best practice is being applied across the board. Regeneration is often a once in a lifetime opportunity for communities, we can't afford to get it wrong. Attention needs to be focused on tackling ingrained inequality that we know still exists and promoting strong and stable communities.

The report highlights that new buildings and public spaces must allow for interaction between different communities. However, the CRE found that often these schemes create further divisions between these groups.

Local authorities and public bodies have a key role to play in this process. They are the organisations that are uniquely placed to shape and revive the communities they serve. Building on examples of effective regeneration, the report recommends how local authorities can put in place plans and governance structures to ensure race equality is embedded in the policy and practice of regeneration so that it has a real impact on communities.

Julia Chain went on to say:

These organisations simply must listen to local communities. They need to understand the needs of all groups and use this understanding to ensure that regeneration helps, not hinders, community relations. We are hopeful that this report will be a spur to action so that all ethnic groups can receive the benefits of regeneration and the goal of improved social cohesion can be achieved

In this, one of the strongest warnings issued by the CRE in recent years, public bodies are urged to take action today in order to avoid problems in the future. They argue the need for strong local leadership in order to ensure that regeneration delivers benefits to all members of society. This issues a warning to the government and other national bodies that they must provide leadership and support for local authorities to help them achieve this.

Notes to editors

About the Investigation

The CRE has the power, under section 48 of the Race Relations 1976 Act as amended ('the Act'), to carry out a general formal investigation into any activity.

The findings were based on research which included a questionnaire, administered by Ipsos Mori, sent to all local authorities and development agencies in England, Scotland and Wales, 5 detailed local case studies, interviews with national and regional stakeholders including regeneration bodies and voluntary and community sector groups and an open call for evidence.

Assisting Julia Chain in the formal investigation were three individuals chosen for their expertise in regeneration:
Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council. He played a key role in the regeneration of Hulme, the construction of the Commonwealth Games Stadium.

Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point, UK's leading social care organization. He began his career in Local Authority Estate Management before joining the housing association movement.

Vincent Wang, entrepreneur and development consultant. He recently advised the board of DIFA up to achieving planning consent for a 1,000ft-high tower on Bishopsgate in the City of London.

Terms of reference

The investigation will focus on whether and how physical regeneration schemes affect the social and economic circumstances of people residing and working in areas that are being regenerated. The investigation will review public organisations involved in developing regeneration policy and putting regeneration schemes into practice, whether these schemes are carried out by the public organisations themselves or by other public, private or voluntary agencies.

The investigation covers England Wales and Scotland and its terms of reference, as required by section 49 of the Race Relations Act 1976 (the Act) are as follows:

  • To investigate the extent to which public organisations are complying with the duty to promote race equality under the Race Relations Act in relation to their regeneration functions;
  • To investigate the economic and social effects of physical regeneration schemes on different racial groups;
  • To investigate the extent, and effectiveness, of community consultation and participation in physical regeneration, from policy proposals to evaluation of completed projects;
  • To investigate the extent to which the private sector does or should consider the implications for race equality of carrying out physical regeneration, and the extent to which public organisations bound by the statutory duty to promote race equality can and do influence the private sector;
  • To consider critically the measures used to evaluate the success or otherwise of physical regeneration schemes in relation to the duty to promote race equality, and the importance of promoting integrated communities;
  • To consider whether there is adequate oversight and scrutiny of the way organisations involved in physical regeneration schemes take account of racial equality.

For further information, please contact the CRE Media Office on 020 7939 0064 / 0072 / 0106.

About the CRE

The Race Relations Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins. The Commission for Racial Equality was established under the Race Relations Act to work for the elimination of discrimination, the promotion of equality of opportunity and good race relations generally. Its function will be taken over by the Equality and Human Rights Commission with effect from 1 October 2007.

Public bodies have a duty to eliminate discrimination in the way they work and to promote equality of opportunity and good race relations. The Commission is working to help them deliver this duty.

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