Headlines: January 17th, 2001

The Government has launched the Neighbourhood Renewal Action Plan to turn around the fortunes of England’s most deprived neighbourhoods, with the aim of making them places where people will want to live and work. The Plan, with a 10 – 20 year horizon is based on the work of 18 Policy Action Teams and has been drawn up by the Social Exclusion Unit following more than two years of consultation. This contrasts with the NHS 10 year plan which was put together in about 5 months with one month for consultation.The Plan will kick-start a far reaching programme to reverse the 20 year spiral of decline in the poorest parts of the country. It aims to improve peoples’ lives in the 900 most deprived neighbourhoods. Targets with deadlines between 2004 and 2010 have been set for improvements in housing, crime, health, employment, education and environment. Housing, which was not in the draft plan, has been added as a result of representations from the National Housing Federation representing social landlords, and others.

This approach marks a radical break with past attempts to tackle deprivation. It moves away from a handful of area-based initiatives to a sustained assault on deprivation through improvements to mainstream public services and a grassroots empowerment of people in their own communities.

The implementation timetable provides that 15 area pilots comprising between 2000 – 5000 households will be selected by April 2001. Strategies for each pilot will be developed by November 2001 and implementation will start before the end of the year.