Neighbourhood Renewal

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Transport and the Regions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20 March 2001.

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Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East 12:00, 20 March 2001

If he will make a statement on public service targets for neighbourhood renewal. [152913]

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Minister of State (Local Government and Housing), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions) (Local Government)

The Government have set targets to improve outcomes on employment, education, health, crime and housing in our most deprived areas. For the first time, public services will be judged on how well they are narrowing the gap between those areas and the rest, rather than on national averages.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Downham ward in my constituency is among the 10 per cent. most deprived wards in the country? The money that is going into neighbourhood renewal is being used effectively by all concerned: the council, the community and the local police. If the local police achieve the targets set by the public service agreement—and I am sure that they will—will they be rewarded for that achievement, not penalised?

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Minister of State (Local Government and Housing), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions) (Local Government)

The money that is going to Lewisham is in recognition of the number of people living in wards in the borough that are among the 10 per cent. most deprived in the country. I assure my hon. Friend that the targets that we set are minimum targets. Indeed, last week Lewisham council signed its local public service agreement, which extends those minimum targets and sets even higher targets. When people achieve those higher targets, they will be rewarded.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions)

Does the Minister remember the wise words of her right hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson)? He said of urban regeneration schemes: There is a proliferation of programmes with insufficient collaboration between the different agencies involved at national, local and area level. As a result we are spending vast sums of money, often over and over again on the same people through different programmes". What is different about the Minister's neighbourhood renewal scheme? Specifically, what will the new neighbourhood managers do, how many have been appointed and to whom will they be accountable? Will the Minister give a guarantee that the neighbourhood wardens in the scheme will not be used as a substitute for the 2,500 police officers who have been lost under this Government?

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Minister of State (Local Government and Housing), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions) (Local Government)

There were about six questions in the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I can reassure him that it is precisely to overcome different initiatives undertaken by different Departments that we have instituted the neighbourhood renewal programme, which brings all Departments together, nationally and locally, to make sure that they deliver effectively better outcomes for local people.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle Labour, Liverpool, Walton

Given that my constituency lies at the heart of what the centre for the analysis of social exclusion deems the biggest poverty cluster in the United Kingdom, and given that the local Liberal Democrat council is unable or unwilling to access programmes for neighbourhoods in my constituency such as Anfield, Kirkdale and Walton, can my right hon. Friend suggest to my constituents ways in which they can gain rightful and proper access to the excellent programmes introduced by the Government?

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Minister of State (Local Government and Housing), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions) (Local Government)

It is precisely because we recognise those levels of deprivation in Liverpool that the neighbourhood renewal fund will provide the city with an additional £45 million over the next three years. That must be spent in such a way as to ensure that at least the floor targets are delivered. People in my hon. Friend's constituency can be assured that they will have a voice in the local strategic partnership. Their voice will be heard, which will ensure that their anxieties and aspirations are properly addressed.