Headlines: March 18th, 2003

England’s 88 most deprived local authority areas are to share an extra 400 million pounds to tackle crime, improve poor health, housing and education and create jobs. The money will be allocated to them from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund as part of a long-term approach to reverse what the government calls “the spiral of decline” in impoverished communities.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister says people living in deprived areas are already seeing the benefits of 500 million pounds of NRF spending, overseen by local partnerships, to improve the standards of public services by targeting them at the people and places that need them most. It claims Neighbourhood Renewal is delivering lasting change to communities, through projects ranging from wardens reducing the fear of crime, training schemes which create jobs, support services for teenage mothers and programmes helping disabled young people to live independently.

In the 88 areas, residents have been brought together with the public, private and voluntary sector in Local Strategic Partnerships to plan for changes in the way in which local services are delivered. Minister for Social Exclusion and Equality Barbara Roche said the 400 million pounds would drive forward the delivery of lasting change in deprived areas, to build thriving communities where people wanted to live, not to leave.

Areas receiving NRF include West Cumbria where more than a dozen unemployed people have found jobs as classroom assistants, after taking an apprentice training course, Bristol, where funding is being used to pilot a new scheme to provide personal assistants to help young disabled people, Portsmouth where more than 50 dedicated coaching staff have been funded in 18 schools to improve the quality of teaching and learning and Newcastle, where 130 people with severe mental health problems are learning employable skills.