Headlines: November 28th, 2005

An independent report has found that partnerships set up as part of the New Deal for Communities programme are providing models for neighbourhood renewal. The report says the programme is “proving effective” in engaging residents and changing attitudes towards local communities.The report is from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, led by Professor Paul Lawless. It provides a national evaluation of the New Deal for Communities from 2001 to 2005. It concludes that the NDC programme has made progress through a wide range of projects, from major housing refurbishment initiatives to youth inclusion schemes and community crime teams.

Professor Lawless said partnerships had achieved as much in their first five years as might plausibly have been expected of them and they were now ideally placed to ensure meaningful and deep-seated changes to the 39 neighbourhoods in the scheme. Much had been achieved, he said, but much remained to be done.

The report acknowledges that effective neighbourhood renewal is difficult and change will not happen overnight. It says, “Evidence now points to changes in relation to attitudes to the area, the environment and the local NDC. There are growing indications too that partnerships are achieving positive outcomes in relation to unemployment.”

Results in the report show that improvements can be seen in some of the five key outcome areas – housing and the physical environment, employment, crime, health and education. For example, it says, the fear of burglary fell by 10 per cent between 2002 and 2004 in New Deal areas. Across many indicators the 39 communities tended to outperform other deprived areas and equivalent national benchmarks.

The report states that five years on some NDCs should now be used as models for other neighbourhood renewal initiatives. “Creating dedicated agencies for neighbourhood renewal posed problems for those setting up partnerships in the early days of the initiative. But much has been achieved and some partnerships are widely seen as models of how neighbourhood renewal should be carried out. NDCs have become much more embedded within the renewal community,” it says.

The findings have been welcomed by ODPM Minister Jim Fitzpatrick who said the report recognised the importance of involving and engaging the local community in regeneration programmes and having a comprehensive and joined-up approach.