Book News: April 17th, 2008

This report from Communities and Local Government explores the impact of the New Deal for Communities and it sets out findings from case studies. It provides insights into why and how change is occurring in the case study areas, it explores relationships between interventions and outcomes at the local level and identifies why and how successful neighbourhood renewal occurs.

In some instances the driving mechanism revolves around aspects of human or social capital such as a perceived need to address issues of education and perhaps particularly jobs and skills, which are generally seen as underpinning other dimensions to deprivation. In other cases the primary driving focus has been placed on improving the physical environment, particularly through major housing refurbishment proposals.

Strategies evolve for a number of pragmatic reasons such as deficiencies in original delivery plans, and more recently an increasing focus on sustainability. But there is evidence too of more visionary thinking. In Newcastle the intention was that the early emphasis on stressing positive social change, in relation to issues such as attacking local criminality, would be followed up by investment in capital projects and physical improvements in order to improve the housing offer, stabilise population churn and help lock in the transformation of the area.

In Bradford the long term strategy has been based on the assumption that as NDC overall spend declined through time, this would be balanced out by increases in neighbourhood management expenditure and resources arising from partnership working pursued by the NDC.

A number of factors have tended to inhibit cross theme working including pressures to deliver and spend, and NDCs tending to employ theme specialists driving change through outcome specific ‘sub-committees’.

There is a general agreement that renewing these areas will require interventions to be pursued over, at least, the Programme’s 10 year horizon. Market trends and institutional structures change over such a time period. Some of this may well turn out to be beneficial. But some forces have tended to inhibit or delay progress including changes in public sector budgets, new or evolving institutional processes and local political change.

Probably the most pressing of ‘contextual issues’ is that nexus of questions surrounding population churn, immigration and housing. This complex arena is driven by a range of considerations.

The report is available from DCLG.