Infighting and high staff turnover hit New Deal

The government’s flagship £2 billion regeneration
programme is struggling to retain staff and deal with infighting,
according to a new report, writes Sally

A national evaluation of the New Deal for Communities
initiative, launched in 1999 to tackle deprivation in
England’s poorest neighbourhoods, has found many community
representatives leave because of “burn out”.

The 10-year programme is designed to tackle crime, education,
health, employment and housing problems in 39 areas, but some
schemes are being destabilised by high staff turnover.

According to the report chief executives leave, chairs of boards
are replaced and agency representatives move on, which places a
heavy burden on those who stay.

Many partnership boards are in a “state of
flux,”with four-fifths reporting changes in membership in a
year, and a third saying their chairperson has changed.

More than half of community representatives believe that the
time commitments involved in the work is “excessive”
and getting worse.

Less than half of schemes – 40 per cent – are fully
staffed and have trouble recruiting people with the specialist
skills to carry out the work.

Only around two thirds have an evaluation plan and levels of
community involvement, a core element of the NDC programmes, is

As well as facing burnout, some representatives feel they are
compromised and some schemes are dominated by small groups or
cliques, says the report.

Researchers at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social
Research based at Sheffield Hallam University also found that some
of the schemes were split by tensions.

Nearly halfway through the 10-year scheme, problems surrounding
the management of some schemes and disagreements about how to spend
the £50 million allocated to each are still surfacing.

Yvette Cooper, junior minister in the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister, added that it was inevitable that some NDCs had faced
early problems, but added that the government would continue to
support troubled schemes.

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