17 September 2004
Regeneration minister Lord Rooker this week urged councils to work with the neighbourhood renewal agenda, after MPs said an atmosphere of 'mistrust and tension' was frustrating progress.
A Public Accounts Committee investigation into the New Deal for Communities schemes, published on September 14, recommends that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister streamline the initiatives set up to help deprived communities. The committee notes that, in some areas, the NDC is one of more than 50 programmes with separate funding streams, created to address aspects of deprivation. It calls on the government to ensure initiatives are better co-ordinated and duplication reduced.
PAC chair Edward Leigh said: 'I am disappointed that mistrust and tensions between NDC partnerships and local authorities have got in the way of progress. The ODPM must address this, for example, by setting out clearly local authorities' responsibilities with respect to the programme.'
Rooker said NDCs would only be effective if all partner agencies worked together. 'In some areas, barriers and mistrust have built up,' he said. 'NDCs are not a threat to the traditional structures, but an asset.'
The PAC said future evaluations of the effectiveness of NDCs needed to demonstrate that the projects actually addressed problems rather than shifting them to other areas.
'The NDC programme must be shown to add value to, not displace, other renewal programmes, such as those funded by local authorities,' Leigh said.