Deprived areas set to gain resources

Heavy hints that the government might allocate funds for every
deprived area in the country to help them develop a local strategic
partnership have been welcomed by the new voluntary sector

Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart told delegates at a
conference held last week by regeneration umbrella body Urban Forum
that LSPs were crucial to the empowerment of local people.

At present, only the country’s 88 most deprived neighbourhoods
receive money from the community empowerment fund (CEF), aimed at
helping the voluntary and community sector to become involved in
LSPs. Those areas outside the 88 are struggling to establish LSPs
because of resource constraints.

But an official at the Home Office’s active community unit has
suggested that the intention of “mainstreaming CEF”, included in
the Treasury’s voluntary sector cross-cutting review, could see the
fund extended beyond the 88 most deprived areas.

He suggested that the 2005 spending review would be the “obvious
time” to introduce any such change.

In her first major speech since taking over the voluntary sector
brief last month, Mactaggart said she was “really reassured” that
the government was committed to making sure the Home Office was not
“just a police arm” of government.

Meanwhile, regional development agency Yorkshire Forward has
already set up a steering group to examine the feasibility of
providing the CEF to all areas.

It has employed consultants to carry out research into the 12
districts it covers that are currently not eligible for the

Neighbourhood renewal and LSP development co-ordinator at the
Yorkshire and Humber regional forum, Alison Crouch, said: “The idea
is to mirror the CEF so that these areas can set up networks and
get involved in the LSP. That is the sole aim of the steering

The conference followed chancellor Gordon Brown’s announcement in
his progress report on the 2005 spending review released earlier
this month of a second voluntary sector review to “build upon and
reinforce” last September’s key recommendations.

The new review will examine and learn lessons from selected public
services where the voluntary and community sector can and do add
value, and explore the existing relationship between the sector and
the state at central and local level.

The services will be selected from five categories: health and
social care, crime and community cohesion, education and
employment, housing and homelessness and children and families.

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