Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

'No adequate plan' for regeneration

MPs say neglect of deprived areas risks storing up problems for the future

The Government does not have an adequate strategy for the regeneration of England's most deprived communities, a parliamentary report warns.

The collapse in state and private sector investment in regeneration since the financial crisis of 2008 has left projects across the country "stalled", said the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee.

The cross-party committee highlighted the sudden withdrawal of funding in last year's budget for the multimillion-pound Pathfinder programme to revive run-down areas of cities across the Midlands and the North by tearing down old terraces and building new homes.

Halting the Pathfinder projects in mid-stream has created "significant problems", with many vulnerable residents "trapped in half-abandoned streets" surrounded by boarded-up homes, said the report.

The committee called for urgent Government action to help those affected, warning: "The decision to end funding so suddenly has had a profound impact on the lives of people in towns and cities throughout the North and Midlands.

"Many of those left in the mainly cleared areas are owner-occupiers, often elderly and vulnerable people, who have no alternatives."

The Government's regeneration strategy, published in January this year, provides "little confidence" that ministers have a clear plan for addressing the country's regeneration needs, said the committee.

"It lacks strategic direction and is unclear about the nature of the problem it is trying to solve," they said in the report. "It focuses overwhelmingly upon the achievement of economic growth, giving little emphasis to the specific issues faced by deprived communities and areas of market failure."

Government plans were "unlikely to bring in sufficient resources", including from private sector sources, said the report.

Neglect of deprived areas risked storing up problems for the future, warned the MPs. They called on ministers to develop a new national regeneration strategy which would set out "a coherent approach to tackling deprivation and market failure in the country's most disadvantaged areas".