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GROUNDBREAKING INVESTING IN COMMUNITIES PROGRAMME

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A major new funding programme to tackle inequality, exclusion and social deprivation as well as improving job prosp...
A major new funding programme to tackle inequality, exclusion and social deprivation as well as improving job prospects for some of the most deprived communities in the region was announced today by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).

The Investing in Communities programme will help some of the most deprived communities in the region to address social issues within their neighbourhoods and improve employment opportunities of disadvantaged people by stimulating local economic development.

The programme is a completely new and innovative funding stream that will be a vitally important element in EEDA's role to ensure sustainable economic development. It marks the first regional programme of this kind to be launched by a regional development agency and will be based principally on supporting communities' long term investment plans that will meet their particular regeneration needs, whether this is improving employment skills, new business support or more.

The programme will be delivered by EEDA and its partners, including local economic and strategic partnerships, and presents an exciting opportunity for the region.

Through this fund EEDA wants to help build stronger communities in the region, importantly creating communities with stronger social networks. This has been revealed by research to be a major influence on easing the path to training and employment. For instance, building up these communities may mean funding projects that will:

- encourage volunteering that stimulates greater social interaction

- provide training in better parenting skills

- increase opportunities for learning and skills development

- improve the support for social enterprises (not for profit businesses that provide valuable services and employment, for example housing associations)

In particular, EEDA will work towards ensuring that communities develop a new culture to encourage them to help themselves, and become financially sustainab le. In this way EEDA wants to transform deprived communities. For example, projects put forward for funding by communities may include some asset based ones such as:

- new community centres

- youth projects, such as football training

- managed workspace for small businesses

- residential and commercial developments

- retail units

- community leadership training

- community facilities such as healthy living centres

EEDA head of environment and community development Judith Barker said:

'EEDA is committed to sustainable development and this programme is part of that commitment. We aim to tackle deprivation and inequality in the East of England. It is a really innovative and comprehensive programme that will give communities the chance to make a real difference for themselves. After some extensive research and consultation, the regional programme has been designed to tackle sustainable regeneration in new ways - larger investments tied to community strategies that local partnerships have responsibility for over the long term, rather than the provision of money for many smaller projects that may not have the most effective impact on the community. There is already compelling evidence to show that that there is a clear link between social regeneration and improvements in health, a decline in homelessness through building stronger relationships, a reduction in crime and better access to education. Working with partnerships 'on the ground' we want this fund to help in a number of ways and so achieve better economic performance from the region, increase social well being, enable communities to live in an improved environment, increase opportunities for both work and leisure, reduce the current disparity between social groups and give people higher aspirations for the future.'

Investing in Communities programme overview

Investing in Communities, a campaign led by the East of England Development Agency is an integral part of EEDA's sustainable economic development role. It will have a key role to play to achieve the region's vision for economic prosperity. In summary, by a range of actions, the fund has been designed to tackle inequality, exclusion and deprivation to realise the potential of everyone in the region.

The objectives of the fund are to:

-- improve economic performance in deprived areas

-- improve the employment opportunities of disadvantaged groups

-- address social exclusion and inequality issues

And more specifically to:

-- build capacity and leadership in the regeneration sector

-- harness mainstream and existing funding to ensure outcomes are sustainable

-- increase opportunities for learning and skills development

-- improve support for social enterprises

The Investing in Communities programme builds on the progress of the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB), which has been administered by EEDA since the organisation was set up in 1999.

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