Regeneration (Issue 99)

June 10, 2008


Briefing Comment

Money is key to changing peoples’ lives – “It’s the economy stupid” is not a bad mission statement for community relations professionals in companies.

Credit where it is due: the New Economics Foundation is nothing if not consistent in banging the drum for local economic regeneration. “It’s the economy,stupid!” famously got Clinton elected (Bill, that is; Hilary has her own problems). And it’s not a bad mission statement for community relations professionals in companies. If you really want to make a difference to people’s lives, putting money in their pockets is the best place
to start.

Curious then, that so few corporate community investment programmes these days address enterprise as a distinct theme, still less a core purpose. Progressively over the last decade or more, the emphasis has moved to education or environment or general charitable support, unlike the 1980s, when every self-respecting company was sponsoring enterprise agencies with cash, secondees and direct links into the
business. These days companies are encouraged to get involved in New Deal for Communities and now Local Strategic Partnerships, but few do and anyway the results are pretty variable, as the evaluation is starting to show.

That said, perhaps the times they are a-changing: the dreaded R-word, recession, fills the headlines, though too soon yet to see a rise in unemployment, while the pundits talk of a change of government. In fact we are still some way short of either happening. It’s timely, nonetheless, for the Conservatives to be reviewing the regional development agencies and the small business support arrangements. Expect to see more as the months go by, even if the ideas in this review won’t get the pulses racing either in think tanks like NEF or on the streets of depressed inner city areas.

Related News Stories

Regeneration programmes meant to boost some of the country’s most deprived areas are leading to a poor return on investment because of a lack of robust measurement, according to a new report form the New Economics Foundation. Evaluating one of the government’s flagship regeneration programmes, the ‘Local Enterprise Growth Initiative’, the NEF says investment has not been targeted at places where it would have the most impact because it has not been supported by sophisticated measurement. Instead, evaluation tends to rely on easy to measure outputs. The result is people’s lives are not necessarily changed for the better in areas that matter most to them over the long term. “Those who lose out most are the people that live through initiative after initiative but see nothing change,” says NEF researcher Eilis Lawlor, commenting on the report Hitting the target, missing the point: How Government Regeneration Targets fail deprived areas.

Contact The New Economics Foundation 020 7820 6300

The Conservative party’s Small Business Task Force headed by Dragons’ Den judge Doug Richard has published a report outlining its proposals to improve the business support system. The Task Force described the current system as “complex” and “out of control”, claiming 3,000 business support schemes are run by over 2,000 public bodies and their contractors at a cost of £2.5 billion. Small Business and Government: The Richard Report sets out several key recommendations including: creating a single, national, web-based Business Information System, improving access to finance for SMEs, helping small businesses secure more government contracts and overhauling enterprise education in schools.

Contact The Conservative Party 020 7222 9000

The UK could do well to draw valuable lessons by studying successful regeneration programmes in European cities, according to a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Regeneration in European cities: making connections suggests that while there is no one ‘European model’ for good regeneration programmes, there are key factors including a powerful local authority placed in charge of the scheme, long-term commitment and realising cities are in competition with each other. The report mainly based its findings on the study of several regeneration schemes in
Europe. These were Gothenburg in Sweden, Rotterdam in The Netherlands and Roubaix, in Lille, France.

Contact The Joseph Rowntree Foundation 01904 629241

Communities and Local Government have published an overview on six New Deal for communities programmes to discover how and why changes at a local level have taken place. Challenges, interventions and change: an overview of neighbourhood renewal in six New Deal for Communities areas, evaluates the second phase of the government’s New Deal programme, and looks at their strategies, interventions and outcomes. Through the examination of these six examples the report aims to draw key lessons from the study and understand why and how successful regeneration takes place. The report is only available online at:

Contact Communities and Local Government 0207 944 4400

A report from the New Economics Foundation has cast doubt on government promises that the 2012 Olympics will provide regeneration for the poorest residents in East London unless firm guarantees are put into place. Fool’s Gold identifies the ‘trickle down’ economics theory which underlies the regeneration approach in the Olympic bid as the heart of the problem. In practice, according to report, investment into deprived areas
trickles into the pockets of consultants, developers and large companies who are best placed to exploit new opportunities. The report points to other Olympics and UK regeneration projects which have failed to improve the lives of the poorest local residents, and warns the 2012 Olympics games may be going the same way. In order to make sure residents of London’s Lower Lea Valley benefit proper mechanisms need to be put in place.

Contact The New Economics Foundation 020 7820 6300

A new bank aimed at improving social investment and finance for UK third sector organisations was launched by top figures in the financial and social industry on the 21st April. Social Finance Ltd was established to provide charities, non-profit, for-profit social enterprises and organisations with a social purpose with greater financial options. By bridging the gap between subsidy grants and commercial loans, Social Finance Ltd will use financial innovation to bring together the needs of investors and social purpose organisations, and so connect the third sector to capital markets. The bank also plans to support investors and third sector organisations to research new markets and opportunities, and raise and deploy capital. The aim is to enable the creation of a new asset class for investment into the third sector.

Contact Social Finance Ltd 0207 182 7878