Headlines: October 17th, 2002

The government is to streamline some of its programmes designed to lift people out of poverty in an effort to cut red tape and remove barriers to community funding.A series of recommendations have been put forward with the aim of helping local projects to deliver services more effectively to some of the country’s most deprived areas. They have been drawn up after a year-long review of area based initiatives by the Regional Co-Ordination Unit.

Barbara Roche, the Minister for Social Exclusion, said the guiding principle was to improve the delivery of services to tackle poverty. “Area based initiatives can make a real difference in areas of greatest need and these recommendations, which have the full backing of all government departments, can make this happen more effectively,” she said.

Proposed actions include building on the lessons learnt in Health Action Zones and setting new targets for Sure Start services, merging funding frameworks on crime reduction projects and regeneration schemes, linking work, for example in the case of Education Action Zones and Excellence in Cities and setting up Single Local management Centres in each region to drive change from the bottom upwards. There will also be a stronger gatekeeping role for the Regional Co-Ordination Unit.

The announcement has been welcomed by the Chair of the Local Government Association, Sir Jeremy Beecham. He said, ” The review makes significant progress towards streamlining area based initiatives and reducing bureaucracy and we hope the RCU continues its work in this area.”

Sefton Borough Council Chief Executive, Graham Haywood, also believed the recommendations would lead to greater flexibility and more local decision making. “Our education services are particularly keen to see a simplified process which will benefit learners directly with this new funding,” he said.

A series of road shows will be run to give local and regional stakeholders more information about the review. Events already planned will be in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham.