Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
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Blears Outlines New Economic People-Focused Approach to Regeneration
Ministers plan to focus on 'real-life' measures about improving people's lives rather than bricks and mortar targets for regeneration funding. This is so communities get more than a cosmetic facelift and are helped to unlock their potential and take responsibility for their own regeneration.
In future, funding will be more tightly targeted at tackling economic challenges and on outcomes not processes. This would favour schemes that help boost enterprise, give people the skills to work, promote better health, and attract business investment - so communities take responsibility for the long term. Knock on benefits might include tackling anti-social behaviour and creating more harmonious communities.
Building on last week's White Paper, the proposals would also shift more power to local people. New 'priority maps' would map out regeneration priorities to steer funding and inform residents where money is spent, and decisions on how to regenerate would be devolved to regions, towns and villages. Maps will help focus and bring together investment from Whitehall, regions and the private sector on strengthening the local economy and improving prospects for residents, so for example, investment in housing and environmental improvements will be linked to residents' economic chances.
Speaking at a conference in London, Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears said:
"We want long-lasting regeneration that will help people and neighbourhoods to take responsibility and enable everyone to rise as far as their talents can take them.
''It's not just about giving buildings a facelift. Regeneration is about empowering people and improving economic prospects is the key. If you deal with pockets of unemployment, improvements in crime rates and people's health will follow. And getting a job and more skills can give people real power and control of their lives as well as bring new money and talent into the community."
The consultation 'Transforming places, changing lives' proposes:
* A renewed focus on helping people to reach their potential, bringing together economic, social and physical regeneration under a shared vision to meet the needs of communities
* A focus on outcomes rather than outputs - to ensure that regeneration activities are measured by the outcomes they achieve, rather than the processes they follow
* A stronger focus on promoting work through regeneration - focusing on tackling the underlying economic causes of decline, ensuring that places can reach their potential by moving communities and individuals from dependence to independence
* Efforts to increase and stimulate investment from the private sector, by defining clear regeneration priorities and geographies, raising confidence, and making places more attractive to make long term investment commitments. Understanding the impact of current economic conditions will be crucial in shaping regeneration policy. A study on "The Impact of the Credit Crunch on Regeneration" will run in parallel to the consultation on this framework.
* To continue to bring housing and tackling worklessness closer together so that housing associations and local authorities can help more to tackle worklessness in social housing. A Housing Reform Green Paper later this year will set out proposals to help and encourage people living in social housing towards greater economic independence and social mobility, matching responsibility with opportunity to help meet their potential and make better use of resources.
* New and improved partnership working between local authorities, Regional Development Agencies, and the new Homes and Communities Agency so that homes are connected to jobs.
Notes to Editors
1. An electronic version (or PDF) of this document and a consultation response form are available to download from the communities and local government website at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/citiesandregions/transformingplaces. Please send comments using this form to the Regeneration Framework team at: RegenFramework@communities.gsi.gov.uk.
2. Between 2007 and 2011, the government will invest over £13bn in programmes that contribute heavily to regeneration, and the consultation outcome will influence where and how targeted regeneration funding is spent in future.
3. Every area is different and will require a response that fits local circumstances which is why proposals include that decisions on how and where to invest are made locally and regionally. The framework proposes four criteria to assist local and regional partners in determining how and where to regenerate: 1) the scale of deprivation 2) the strength of the wider sub regional economy 2) the economic and social characteristics of the area 4) and the dynamics of the area (whether it is getting better or worse).
4. The regeneration framework offers more local and regional flexibility to create programmes that fit places rather than expect places to fit programmes - by focusing on outcomes instead of outputs, with three priority aims - 1) improving economic performance in deprived areas, 2) improving rates of work and enterprise in deprived areas and 3) creating sustainable places where people want to live and can work, and businesses want to invest.
5. The review of sub-national economic development and regeneration (SNR) recognised the potential role for targeted regeneration in improving outcomes in deprived areas. Better coordination will be key to delivering real and lasting improvements in outcomes for deprived areas. By bringing together neighbourhood renewal spending and investment in physical regeneration through a shared understanding of regeneration priorities, this framework should lay the foundations for improved partnership working between local authorities, Regional Development Agencies, and the new Homes and Communities Agency.
6. By guiding outcomes and geographies for regeneration, the framework will ensure investment is coordinated and prioritised, with public, private and voluntary sector organisations working together in the same places and towards a shared vision.
7. Building on the SNR, the framework aims to devolve power so investment decisions are made as locally as possible, and to focus existing regeneration activity on tackling the remaining economic challenges that hold back deprived areas, in particular supporting people to get a job and get on in the labour market. The framework aims to ensure regeneration is more focused on making sure no area is left behind - to improve places, attract private investment and business prosperity, foster ambition and unlock potential.
8. Communities and Local Government has recently consulted on a new economic assessment duty for local authorities. This will require upper tier and unitary authorities to carry out an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their local economy. This would form the basis of the new approach to reviving the economic prospects of deprived areas at a local level.
9. The tackling worklessness review, led by Cllr Stephen Houghton will run alongside this consultation, to explore how local authorities and their partners are using the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, a key element of this approach to tackle worklessness within their worst performing neighbourhoods.
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