MPs pin part of the blame for riots on confused regeneration funding

Racial tensions in the riot-hit towns of Bradford, Burnley and
Oldham may have been exacerbated by the way in which regeneration
money was distributed, according to an influential group of

In a report into the effectiveness of government regeneration
initiatives published last week, the urban affairs sub-committee
concludes that regeneration funding may have contributed to the
disturbances of the summer of 2001.

“Focusing on a predominantly white council housing estate or Asian
area of run-down private housing could cause serious resentment in
the area that did not receive funding,” it concludes.

The committee recommends that, in future, the community cohesion
unit should report publicly on the community cohesion implications
of any new regeneration initiatives.

The report, based on a five-month inquiry that ended in February,
criticises the “proliferation” of area-based initiatives and the
resulting confusion and bureaucracy.

The government’s regional co-ordination unit, which has
responsiblity for area-based initiatives, has made “insufficient
progress” in rationalising them, despite reducing their number from
40 to 23, the report says.

“When the funding of the current area-based initiatives expires, no
more centrally driven national initiatives should be launched,” the
committee recommends.

Instead local authorities should develop their own regeneration
plans, based on local needs and funded by additional resources from
central government.

Despite the large sums of money that have been invested in
area-based initiatives – including £60m for 39 areas over 10
years under the New Deal for Communities programme – they are not
working, the report says.

It concludes that many of the targeted areas remain disadvantaged,
and that regeneration practitioners are not analysing the areas
they are working in or developing a coherent vision of what they
are trying to achieve.

Among the report’s 32 recommendations are that the government
should help the regional coordination unit reduce the number of
initiatives and that civil servants designing programmes should go
on secondments with regeneration practitioners to learn about the
realities of delivering them.

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