Headlines: January 16th, 2001

Prime Minister Tony Blair has shifted the focus of neighbourhood renewal from the top down approach and towards local communities in deprived neighbourhoods taking responsibility for changing their area. He announced that 45 million pounds will be available over three years for neighbourhood management to help communities focus services on their priorities, or to run local services themselves. There will also be 36 million pounds to help communities get involved in local decision making and 50 million pounds for “community chests” to support small community projects with grants they can get locally with minimum bureaucracy.The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund will be conditional on genuine joint working and community involvement. More resources through neighbourhood management for communities are only on offer to communities that are prepared to take more responsibility. The Prime Minister stressed that this is a deal, not a hand out.

This is a new approach to public investment and for many deprived neighbourhoods, it will be the first time they have felt they had any real expectation of decent public services, and the chance to get involved.

This announcement harmonises with the belief that in the run up to the next election the Government will move the emphasis away from improving public sector performance and towards the reconnection of public services with civic responsibility. See Publicnet ‘ Kind Hearts and Ballot Boxes ’16 January 2001.