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PARTNERSHIPS IN DEPRIVED AREAS - THE NEXT STAGE

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Eighty-seven of England's 88 most deprived areas today took a further step on the road towards successfully tacklin...
Eighty-seven of England's 88 most deprived areas today took a further step on the road towards successfully tackling local crime, health, housing, employment and education problems.

Regeneration minister Lord Falconer announced that Local Strategic Partnerships in these areas have been working hard to develop inclusive and effective partnerships to tackle long standing deprivation in England's poorest communities.

Accreditation unlocks the door to their share of the£300m pot of targeted government funding available for 2002/03.

This follows a process of self assessment by the LSPs, confirmed by Government Offices (GO) and key local stakeholders. Accreditation is designed to ensure that all Partnerships are building strong foundations.

However, one LSP - Walsall - has had accreditation deferred pending further review by the GO for West midlands towards the end of March.

Lord Falconer said:

'LSP accreditation is only the first stage in reaching our goal of delivering better local services in neighbourhoods. Partnerships have further work to do to ensure they are more effective, inclusive and able to deliver neighbourhood renewal in their communities. The real work of making a difference has just begun. Next year, Partnerships will need to demonstrate that they have made progress, and tackled their weaknesses.'

Government offices will be writing to LSPs, where appropriate, setting out the areas of concern. They will continue to work with all LSPs to secure ongoing improvement, and will monitor progress closely.

Lord Falconer added:

'Regeneration won't work without strong Local Strategic Partnerships based on genuine community participation. Today is not about success or failure, it is about building real partnerships capable of delivering long-term benefits for our deprived communities.

'LSPs across the country need our full support to help them address their problems. I am determined that they get this support, so that they can start to deliver benefits to the communities they have been set up to serve.'

Cabinet office minister Barbara Roche added:

'Community regeneration is not easy and will take time but past experience shows imposing solutions on communities does not work. That is why the government is prepared to put in the time to get it right. I am sure that LSPs needing further work on their action plans are determined to pull out all the stops to make progress. They can be confident that the government offices will support them in this aim.'

Notes

1. The establishment of Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) is part of the government's wider reform agenda to improve the quality and responsiveness of public services. They will be single bodies that bring together at a local level the different parts of the public sector (councils, the health service, the Benefits Agency and so on) as well as the private, business, community and voluntary sectors. Their membership will be determined locally, but they will need to involve all of these sectors. Their remit will be to ensure that different initiatives and services support each other and work together, that the community is engaged in developing and delivering this process so that complex problems such as neighbourhood renewal and social exclusion can be tackled more effectively.

2. To begin with, their core tasks will be to:

work with the local authority in preparing and implementing a community strategy for the area, identify and deliver the most important things which need to be done, keep track of progress, and keep it up-to-date. The Local Government Act 2000 placed a statutory duty on local authorities to produce these strategies.

develop and deliver a local neighbourhood renewal strategy to secure more jobs, better education, improved health, reduced crime, and better housing, and thus close the gap between deprived neighbourhoods and the rest. LSPs therefore have a key role in implementing the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal Action Plan published last year.

bring together local plans, partnerships and initiatives so that mainstream public service providers (local authorities, the police, health services, central government agencies and so on) work effectively together to meet local needs and priorities;

work with local authorities that are developing a local public service agreement (Local PSA) to contribute ideas on the targets the authority might wish to put forward. In a Local PSA, a council agrees to pursue specific 'stretching' national and local targets on health, crime, education and other key issues over a three year period. They will receive a reward grant for achieving them. Local PSAs are being negotiated with over 100 shire counties, unitary councils, metropolitan councils and London boroughs, having been piloted with 20 authorities in 2001. LSPS in the 88 NRF areas must develop targets which support work tackling deprivation.

4. The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit is working to implement the government drive to narrow the gap between deprived areas and the rest of England - by improving standards of employment, education, housing and health and by lowering crime. The NRU is an inter-departmental Unit, based in DTLR. Its head reports to Lord Falconer and Stephen Byers.

5. The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund NRF provides new money for local authorities in the 88 most deprived areas, amounting to£200m in 2001/02,£300m in 2002/03, and£400m in 2003/04. It is intended as a way to help local authorities and their partners to begin improving services in the most deprived neighbourhoods, including contributing to the achievement of PSA targets to narrow the gap between deprived areas and the rest of the country. The Community Empowerment Fund is providing£36m over three years to support community and voluntary sector involvement in LSPs in the same areas. For a list of the 88 local authority areas see the attached PQ.

6. Accreditation decisions were announced in parliament by Sally Keeble MP, on 28 February.

7. Accreditation has aimed to: enable LSPs to develop from different starting points and in the way that is most appropriate for each partnership and area; build on and encourage dialogue between Whitehall, Government Offices, LSPs and other key stakeholders; recognise that building strategic partnerships is about developing good relationships and effective processes whilst delivering results; make sure that all partners, including local people, are integral to partnerships and their decision-making; and allow for continuous development and help to spread best practice.

8.Where accreditation has been deferred, communities will not notice any reduction in the current flow of funds to their area. Local programmes shouldn't be affected. Funds will be maintained at 67% of anticipated 2002/03 NRF rate (the same level as funding for 2001/02). Once the LSP has undergone a successful review with the relevant Government Office the remaining amounts will be released. Details of NRF allocations for every LSP for 2002/03 are attached.

9. Copies of the LSP Accreditation Guidance can be obtained from the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit on tel: 020 7944 8383 or Neighbourhood Renewal Unit website.

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