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PRESCOTT ANNOUNCES MEASURES TO ENSURE AREA-BASED INITIATIVES SERVE LOCAL PEOPLE

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A package of measures to ensure area-based initiatives such as ...
A package of measures to ensure area-based initiatives such as

housing, health, education and employment are co-ordinated so that

they serve local people as effectively as possible, has been announced by environment secretary John Prescott.

The measures will include research studies which aim to identify

initiatives in a cross-section of areas to ensure the government's

goal of reaching those in the most deprived areas is met. The studies

will take place in Newcastle, Plymouth, South Yorkshire, East London,

West Cumbria and Sandwell.

Guidance has also been issued to government departments and agencies

to help ensure that government initiatives will complement each other

and a new inter-departmental support team, to be based at the DETR,

will carry out day-to-day exchanges of information and will support

their monitoring and evaluation.

In answer to a written parliamentary question Mr Prescott said:

'The government is committed to tackling social exclusion, reducing

inequality and promoting regeneration and development. To help meet

this commitment it has, in its first 18 months, launched specific

area-based programmes and initiatives including Health Action Zones,

the New Deal for Communities, Employment Zones and Education Action

Zones.

'These area-based programmes have their own distinct goals. But they

share key characteristics: they are targeted on areas and communities

where there is a need for priority action; they aim to support new,

cross-cutting approaches; they promote genuine local partnerships

with stronger local involvement; and, they encourage greater

flexibility and responsiveness in the operation of public spending

programmes.

'I am announcing today measures to ensure that area-based initiatives

at neighbourhood, local, regional and national level are co-ordinated

so that they serve local people as effectively as possible.

'The Cabinet Office and my department have circulated a guidance

note to all Departments.

'The guidance note:

- outlines the strategy for co-ordination of initiatives

- defines the common characteristics of many area-based initiatives

- sets out the arrangements for handling proposed new area-based

initiatives and extensions to existing ones

'My department is commissioning research on the mapping of these

initiatives and on options for streamlining their accountability and

funding. These projects will help us gain a better understanding of

the interactions between area-based initiatives.

'An interdepartmental support unit is being established in my

Department to carry out day-to-day exchanges of information, advise

on future initiatives and support their monitoring and evaluation.

'In six key locations, which represent a cross-section of types of

area and where there is a range of initiatives, the government will

build on experience and support the development of models of best

practice in managing and co-ordinating initiatives. It will explore

what lessons can be learnt, both about the way in which individual

initiatives are delivered, and about their relationship to main

public spending programmes. The proposed areas are: Newcastle;

Plymouth; South Yorkshire; East London (Hackney, Newham and Tower

Hamlets); West Cumbria and Sandwell. The government will be

contacting key interests in those areas, including local communities

to discuss how to take forward these studies and define the target

areas more closely.

'The government supports the Local Government Association's (LGA) New

Commitment to Regeneration Initiative which is seeking a more

co-ordinated and flexible approach to regeneration in 22 pathfinder

areas through the preparation of comprehensive regeneration

strategies for their areas. In these areas, the implementation of

area-based initiatives will take account of the emerging pathfinder

strategies. The progress of the LGA New Commitment will be monitored

at regular Central/Local Partnership meetings between the LGA and the

government.

'The government will continue to support the City Pride initiatives

in Birmingham, London and Manchester through which local partnerships

are pursuing a shared strategic vision of their areas.

'Government Offices for the Regions, and in due course and subject to

legislation, Regional Development Agencies will play a key part at

regional level in the co-ordination of area-based initiatives.

'In line with the Social Exclusion Unit report 'Bringing Britain

Together: a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal' an action

team, led by my Department, will report by April 1999 on how to build

on existing area-based initiatives and Local Government reform so

that in the long term broad based strategies to prevent and tackle

social exclusion become the norm, and good practice is disseminated

and acted on. This will include development of more effective ways of

disseminating information about the wider context within which

regeneration programmes and initiatives operate.

'The government will keep these arrangements under review and reflect

the outcome of relevant research and studies in the future

development and operation of its programmes and initiatives.'

NOTES

1. Guidance issued to government departments is attached.

2. Copies of the guidance are available from:

Julian Lomas

Department of the Environment

Floor 4/A6

Eland House

Bressenden Place

London

SW1E 5DU

3. Extensive research studies will begin in Spring 1999 and their

findings will be published in 2001.

INTERDEPARTMENTAL CO-ORDINATION OF AREA BASED INITIATIVES

Note by the Cabinet Office and DETR

Introduction

1. The Government is developing a number of area-based programmes

which have similar characteristics. These characteristics include

targeting on selected (often deprived) areas, a focus on new

approaches, partnerships between agencies, additional flexibilities

in the operation of programmes and stronger local involvement. Beyond

the particular objectives of each programme, there is expected to be

additional benefit in co-ordinating them and in linking their

day-to-day operations.

2. The benefits of this co-ordination are two-fold. First, it will

help overlapping initiatives to augment rather than obstruct one

another. This will make each individual programme more effective.

Second, the meshing together of different approaches will allow the

government more effectively to meet its overarching goal for deprived

areas: reducing the extent of the multiple deprivation that such

areas face. This will involve bringing employment, education, health,

community safety, housing and other outcomes towards national average

levels in these areas. It will help to demonstrate the weight' of

Government effort which is being directed to specific areas and

communities, and to give local people a clearer picture of what

Government is seeking to achieve.

3. In order to achieve this, the Government is therefore developing

common approaches to co-ordination at neighbourhood, local and

regional level beginning with those areas where a number of area

based initiatives are co-located by:

a. developing more effective regional strategies through the new

Regional Development Agencies;

b. supporting the proposal from the Local Government Association for

a New Commitment to Regeneration, under which authorities have been

invited to prepare a local strategic vision, in co-operation with

other local agencies;

c. developing, through the Social Exclusion Unit, a national strategy

for neighbourhood renewal to ensure more effective, co-ordinated

policy and programme delivery at neighbourhood level;

d. ensuring that in those areas where a number of initiatives are

already located or may be proposed, new mechanisms are introduced to

improve co-ordination, flexibility and performance. These steps will

initially be supported in six key locations;

e. ensuring that the location and operation of new area targeted

programmes are carefully considered alongside the existing range of

initiatives and that the combined impact of area based initiatives is

effectively monitored and evaluated.

4. The remainder of this note provides the framework for the

management within Government of area based initiatives.

Handling

5. The Prime Minister has approved the arrangement that Departments

should:

a. approach the support team based in DETR at an early stage of any

new proposals for area-based initiatives or programmes, or extensions

of existing ones, before seeking HS committee's approval for them.

Paragraphs 6 and 7 below describe the sort of initiatives to which

this applies. If in doubt Departments should discuss proposals with

DETR or the HS secretariat. The DETR team will ensure that

information on initiatives in operation and proposed is generally

available to Departments. Paragraph 8 outlines the considerations

that should be addressed when developing any new initiatives of this

kind;

b. seek approval from HS Committee to ensure that proposals are well

co-ordinated with other area-based initiatives or programmes, in

addition to obtaining any other Cabinet Committee approval which may

be required for the policy content of the proposals

c. before seeking HS approval, consult Government Offices for the

Region and, where appropriate, NHS Executive Regional Offices and

Social Services Inspectorate Regional Offices for their views, to

obtain a wider regional perspective and help preserve the bottom-up

character of initiatives.

Characteristics

6. The aim is to ensure that programmes with some or all of the

following characteristics are well co-ordinated in terms of the

selection of locations, the policy linkage nationally and the

practical management locally:

a. programmes with a small scale and bounded geographical focus;

b. programmes targeted explicitly or implicitly on deprived areas

c. programmes with targeted discretionary spending in small areas;

d. programmes managed through local partnerships, involving several

statutory bodies or public and private bodies;

e. policies where additional flexibility is offered to some selected

local bodies

f. policies specifically designed to support a number of objectives

locally which are the responsibility of more than one Department.

7. The aim is not to cover pilots concerned exclusively with improved

delivery of a single service or programme, or pathfinder activity for

roll out of programmes which it has already been decided will be

operated nationally.

Criteria for agreeing new initiatives

8. Proposals should normally cover the outcomes sought, the target

group, delivery mechanism and the changes to processes involved. In

addition for area and partnership initiatives Departments should:

a. set out the rationale for targeting the initiative on discrete

areas, and not in an alternative way such as on particular target

groups

b. identify any broader strategic framework within which such

programmes operate. Depending on the scale this might involve

specifying the relationship to the regional tier (RDAs and GOs), or

local authority aspects (LGA New Commitment areas, LA Community

Plans, Agenda 21 plans);

c. specify any relationships with other related initiatives. This

will include shared objectives, client groups, types of target area

(e.g. deprived areas) or partners (if organised along partnership

lines). Indicate what arrangements have been made for joint working

and justify any decisions not to establish formal co-operation with

related initiatives;

d. set out the criteria for t he choice of areas, including factors

related to deprivation and social exclusion, service specific

factors, the need to test approaches in a representative set of areas

(e.g. metropolitan, large towns, small towns, rural), and the

explicit choice of whether to associate one or more of the selections

within the six key locations referred to in paragraph 3d, or other

existing selected areas, and how well the proposed initiative will

fit in with existing local area-based initiatives (see separate

criteria in paragraph 9);

e. identify what options for local flexibility in powers, financial

arrangements and management discretion are being offered and how

decisions about such flexibilities will be taken;

f. specify whether the programme depends on co-financing or matching

funding e.g. using European, Lottery or existing SRB funds;

g. set out the arrangements for management, monitoring and

evaluation, describing how these will be co-ordinated with those in

related initiatives, where that is appropriate;

h. set out how results and achievements will be disseminated to local

people and more widely;

i. explain whether Ministers or central officials will be given

responsibility for sponsoring individual areas within the programme.

Criteria for selection of areas

9. This paragraph outlines the considerations that should be

addressed in proposals for the location of area-based initiatives.

This will complement rather than substitute for the normal criteria

that Departments employ in the selection of areas. As well as

ensuring that their own criteria are adequately met, Departments

should ensure that bids to establish area-based initiatives in

particular locations:

a. identify the local strategic framework into which the initiative

will fit, indicating which elements of that local strategy it is

geared to achieving;

b. identify other local partnerships and institutions with whom they

share:

i. common objectives;

ii. common client groups; and

iii. common partners;

c. demonstrate that adequate mechanisms and arrangements are in place

to ensure, together with relevant partners and institutions:

i. joint working towards common objectives; and

ii. joint provision for common client groups where appropriate

(e.g. one-stop shops).

d. identify the initiative's requirements in terms of the time and

resources of partner organisations, as well as the requirements of

overlapping initiatives on these resources (so the centre can make a

judgement as to whether partners or individuals will become

overloaded as a result of it).

Contact Network

10. DETR will maintain a network of departmental contacts and arrange

liaison discussions on topics of common interest, including the

development of supporting monitoring, evaluation and research, and

the assessment of proposals for flexibilities.

Review of Arrangements

11. These arrangements will be reviewed in December 1998.

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