Deal or no deal?

A lot of money has been spent under the banner of regeneration in recent decades, but for many areas success has proved elusive, with the result that outcomes for deprived communities in large parts of the country have proved stubbornly untransformed.

Cities such as Hull remain at the bottom of the league table for the proportion of Job Seeker's Allowance claimants, and the gap to areas with better employment prospects is rising.

Regeneration is about far more than improving employment levels, but poor job prospects are a clear sign of local hardship and the need for renewal.

The current government has taken the view that public investment in regeneration on a large scale is no longer affordable.

The abolition of regional development agencies and their associated investment programmes, and the significant reduction in funding from central government departments and quangos means a new approach to regeneration is required, and one which takes up much less room on the Government's balance sheets.

Another element thrown into the mix is the Government's emphasis on localism. With the powers contained within the Localism Act; the option for city deals; and the possibilities that directly elected mayors may bring to cities that vote for them; the door is open for locally-led regeneration.

With this in mind, Localis is conducting a piece of research into locally-driven approaches to regeneration. The research will focus on what works well and what tools local areas have available to them.

This process has already thrown up some interesting findings.

It's often said, but worth repeating, that regeneration spending is fragmented. More than half a dozen departments have policies or programmes that impact on any potential regeneration projects.

Themes such as early intervention, education, skills, employment, benefits, housing and public health are all vital components in improving the outcomes of individuals and communities, yet they are all governed by their own departmental budgets.

Were these budgets to be aligned and interventions coordinated at the local level, departments might get greater bang for their buck.

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