Examination of Witnesses(Questions 40-58)|
MONDAY 28 OCTOBER 2002
40. On this question of the balance between
place based regeneration and people based regeneration, do you
think we have got it right at the minute?
(Dr Tyler) It is one of those things which you can
only ever get right in the particular context. In some ways, to
suggest you can either have people or place is completely wrong.
I also think that in the past we have often lost opportunities
to think about the interactions between areas. Many of our policies
have focused on a particular boundary driven area but have not
thought about the interactions with the rest of the areas around
them. That is beginning to change and that is a powerful change.
I do believe that in a sense you are always going to have to have
people and place type policies because in the very worst areas
unless you are challenging both of those domains you are not going
to get anywhere.
41. A plea for the place side of things. There
can be an inclination, rightly in a sense, to emphasise very much
the impact on individuals and households, but areas around housing,
environment and crime really do have a major role to play in regeneration.
Each time residents are asked about their particular problems
in an area it is strikingly consistent how issues of local crime
and local environmental issues almost invariably figure at the
top of the list. Other issues such as health and education, perhaps
particularly health, do not figure as major problems. Perhaps
they ought to, but they do not.
(Dr Tyler) Evidence from the SRB shows that you can
affect place and crime related perceptions relatively quickly.
It is the more deep-rooted areas, unemployment and those sorts
of things, which take a lot longer.
42. I was wondering why nobody mentioned anything
about work in that context. What is the connection with economic
regeneration and how important are skills in this?
(Dr Tyler) I was very much taken by the point made
earlier that we needed to think very carefully about the interface
between welfare to work programmes and area-based initiatives.
I could not agree more. This is an area where we need a lot more
understanding, but we need to do a lot more with our mainstream
programme. It is hardly surprising that we are only scratching
the surface. We have some SRB areas where hardly anybody is taking
up mainstream training programmes at all. In those circumstances
it is hardly surprising that we are not turning these areas around.
43. We talk about urban areas, but of course
they vary hugely in size, in demography, in levels of incomes,
unemployment, employment, prosperity. Although you say these areas
have benefited from the improvement in the economy, they have
benefited in hugely varying degrees. From your experience what
have you learned about what kinds of area-based initiatives work
best and in what kind of areas?
(Dr Tyler) One of the things which is impressive about
the Single Regeneration Budget was its flexibility. People could
apply for large amounts of funds from a bottom-up driven approach.
Partnerships came together and produced a clear vision and strategy
from their area. That is good practice. Flexibility in regeneration
is important because in some areas you may need a very sizeable
programme. Some of the SRB schemes are up to £100 million
and run for seven years. That flexibility in terms of size, duration,
is something you need. The nature of the problems varies enormously.
That flexibility is important and we have to be careful not to
lose that under some of the recent changes.
(Professor Lawless) With NDC it is simply too early
to say. One of the intentions of the evaluation is that we will
look at different groups through time and within a period of time
be in a position to say what kinds of outcomes are easier to achieve
for different types of groups and different types of areas. It
is too early to say on NDC.
44. Do you think that the government can achieve
its objectives for Local Strategic Partnerships? That is a particularly
relevant question in the context of what you said just now about
the interface between areas and neighbouring areas. What is local?
Is it a neighbourhood, is it an area, is it citywide or is it
(Dr Tyler) LSPs are broadly district based in England.
In Scotland they are going to be community planning partnerships
based on the Scottish areas. In general if we look at those areas
the idea is correct. What you are doing is bringing all the main
players round a table who are going to look at that area carefully
over the years. One of the big problems is in bending the resources
sufficiently between budgets. The lack of budget flexibility across
mainstream providers lies at the core of our changing the problem
in the long term alongside engaging the private sector.
(Professor Lawless) LSPs do have a role to play in
how ABIs might move in the future. You could envisage a situation
where LSPs played a bigger role in trying to look at ABIs and
seeing a different sort of package, a different diet appropriate
for the area in which they are. It comes back to the earlier question
because some kinds of initiatives are clearly more important in
some areas than are others. Generally across the whole of the
history of ABIs in England there has tended to be quite a centralised
view as to what should happen. There is much more scope for there
to be more of a local view of what might happen, what kind of
initiatives might make sense in what kind of localities.
(Dr Tyler) One of the difficulties at the moment is
that we have the regional development agencies which operate at
a different level and sometimes with a different set of spatial
areas compared to the LSPs. Those sorts of differences in geography
are sometimes problematic.
45. So those are systematic problems. The Bishop
talked about the importance of inter-personal relationships in
partnerships, to what extent are local agencies hamstrung perhaps
by other national initiatives?
(Professor Lawless) This is a major problem, indeed
we identified this in the initial scoping phase of the evaluation.
We asked partnerships about their experience of mainstreaming
and they did identify a number of problems which were preventing
them doing this. You have identified two of the key problems.
One was around this issue, not so much of personalities but the
status of the individual; what sort of role and power did he or
she bring to a particular partnership? I think that was very important.
Clearly other kinds of national priorities can occur which make
it difficult for agencies to sustain their commitment. A classic
example in some of the partnerships could be around crime; street
crime for instance has emerged as a major issue. That may not
necessarily fit in with the same kinds of priorities which an
NDC partnership would want. It is very difficult when you take
a 10-year programme. Inevitably all kinds of more immediate policy
initiatives are going to come to the fore which are going to have
implications for partnerships and that is going to create stresses
(Dr Tyler) Over the years there has been a tendency,
if in doubt, to invent yet another partnership delivery structure
on the grounds that partnership always has to be a good thing.
We have created far too many partnerships. We should have used
the existing structures more and we should do that in the future.
Recent moves to consolidate partnerships are to be welcomed. Once
some of the mainstream initiatives which have been called Area
Based Initiatives (ABIs), health action zones and employment zones
have been shown to work they should fall away. They are not the
sort of partnerships which need to carry on. They demonstrate
their worth and then fall away.
46. Your last remarks prompt the observation
that government in, government out over the last 20 years the
constant cry from local authorities has been that it is all getting
centralised. Why all these initiatives, why not give us the money?
We know what is happening locally, we know what is best for our
area. If all the money which was spent on all the initiatives
around the country was simply given to local authorities, presumably
weighted to make sure those in most need had most money, could
we not cut out an awful lot which has been spent on creating initiatives,
finding new people, new consultants and simply give the local
authorities the support and let them get on with it. Why should
we have any of these initiatives at all?
(Professor Lawless) There are strong arguments for
Area Based Initiatives but in a sense there are two questions
in that: the role of ABIs and the degree to which these should
be localised. In terms of the role of ABIs there are still very
strong arguments. There is often a combination of factors which
occurs in certain areas which does require specific intervention.
One of the advantages of ABIs is that admittedly we have not always
learned the lessons, but NDC is an example of where we have learned
lessons nationally, centrally, from previous ABIs and these are
beginning to unfold now. I personally thing there is an argument
that there could be greater autonomy and we could give greater
decentralisation to local authorities or LSPs because they are
in a position to be able to reflect to this.
(Dr Tyler) We have to recognise that local authorities
vary enormously in their ability to be able to carry forward the
requirement. Most local authorities would recognise that there
is a huge variation in the skill base and their ability. Some
local authority areas are only recently understanding the problems
because the problems are relatively new to them in historic terms.
47. Can I just follow up the point about whether
there is a difference? Do the skills to do that exist at the district
level or do they exist at a country level?
(Dr Tyler) It varies enormously. I was asked earlier
what I felt to be one of the benefits of recent years. We have
now a very large group of professionals in the United Kingdom,
people who know what to do. We did not have those people 20, 30
years ago because they had not gone through the experience curve.
That has been a big plus.
48. Two or three things come together with this.
The Bishop spoke earlier about the distrust which had been built
up in a local community over a long time with the very people
who had been elected to solve the problems which people were still
suffering and 40 years on nothing had happened. You do not build
up that trust if other people, apart from the elected representatives
of the city council or the district council come in, plant it
on top and say you do not need to worry about trusting local councillors
now, these people will solve it, so we do not deal with that.
Voting patterns and voting behaviour continue to show a decline
in people voting and why should they vote because somebody has
come in to sort out the problem anyway. Thirdly, why should anyone
stand for the council because anything useful they might want
to do has been handled by somebody else in an initiative. Councillors
have complained over the years that they do not have enough to
do these days. Some of the things they would like to do, if they
had more control over their budget and their own money, they would
be able to do but for initiatives which are out of their hands.
If we really want to support local government, let us give them
more to do.
(Dr Tyler) One of the lessons learned in terms of
addressing these local problems is that you have to have the different
groups of players there, the private sector.
49. They can buy them in.
(Dr Tyler) Buying in is not what you want, with respect.
What you want is commitment. You do not buy in that commitment
necessarily very easily. I think that having the partners feeling
equal is very important. The local authorities end up in most
areas justifiably feeling that they do not get rewarded enough
for having to carry the banner and lead the thing through. If
we move back to just one partner, be it local authority or whatever,
delivering, it would cause all sorts of problems in other directions.
I cannot agree that mainstreaming to local authorities only is
the way forward because there is a huge other set of constituencies
to engage here.
50. Surely that is not ruling out the possibility
that if money were channelled down into the local authority arena
they could then develop a different sort of initiative involving
partners to suit their particular areas.
(Dr Tyler) What we are saying here is that you have
to channel money down to all the mainstream providers, be it health,
police or whatever, as well as the local authorities. All of these
mainstream providers have to have sufficiency of resource to be
able to devote to the problem areas. If they do not have that,
then they cannot bring together what is required. It is not just
local authorities which need to have the extra resources, it is
all of the mainstream players in those particular areas who need
to be spending more.
(Professor Lawless) That is where I think the role
of LSPs could prove in the longer term to be very important in
this context because clearly that is an attempt to pull together,
if not all of the agencies, many of the key agencies. There is
an argument that LSPs could have more of a role in defining and
implementing and organising the ABIs within their areas.
51. Is this not where the concept of joined-up
government and holistic solutions all comes together? These sorts
of approaches for many in local government are the first time
that you get somebody, say, from the JobCentre around the table,
which has not happened in the past.
(Professor Lawless) Yes, that has definitely been
one of the side benefits of ABIs. I am sure we have all been observers
in partnerships where people were introducing themselves to each
other who ought to have known each other for 10 and 15 years.
That does occur. It is always a balance; the degree to which things
should be centralised because there does tend to be more of a
repository of knowledge and experience around ABIs centrally,
however you define that, on the one hand, compared with the fact
that much of this could be done locally through LSPs. It is a
balance and I just wonder whether there is a case now for the
balance to go more locally and regionally. There are key regional
players in this too, but if we have a standardised approach to
ABIs we are making assumptions about different outcome areas and
maybe the reality is that in some parts of the country potential
outcomes should play a much bigger role than in other parts of
the country and certainly different types of project initiatives
are going to make far more sense in some places than others.
52. There has been a review going on of Area
Based Initiatives at national level. Do you support it? Do you
have any criticisms of it?
(Professor Lawless) I am not sure that it is quite
as radical a review as the one I thought might be emerging. There
are some very sensible suggestions around the phasing out of some
initiatives and pulling some of the funding schemes together.
The most important possible development is the single local management
centreis that what they are going to be called? Something
along those lines. I am not quite certain what they are going
to do, but as important as seeing the ABI from the centre's point
of view is, equally important, if not more so, is the recipient's
end of things. One of the problems we all know if you are working
in a partnership, one of the absolutely perennial problems, is
the difficulty of reconciling different demands on bidding for
ABIs on new bits of money, on evaluating them, monitoring them,
implementing them. They are different systems, different pots,
different time horizons and so on. If what this means is that
you actually do try to unify some of these, or at least make the
bureaucracy simpler for those who are actually implementing them,
that is a definite step in the right direction.
(Dr Tyler) In general the reports and the recent review
have been very useful because they have gone back on some of the
needless partnership developments which we may not have needed.
Having said that, at the same time we should not stifle partnership
developments because we know this is the mechanism which works.
We have to be a bit careful in our streamlining that we do not
lose a delivery mechanism which is proving itself to be a good
53. If you were drawing up the balance sheet
for each of these schemes, how many would you put in which have
really succeeded and how many would you put in which have failed?
(Dr Tyler) What we have seen is that a very large
number of these schemes have worked for a time to do certain things.
If you asked me how many of them have really passed the test of
time, that would be a minority because the consistency of approach
has not been there in my experience of 20 years of looking at
them. Having said that, we have some very clear successes and
areas have been dramatically turned round. They have so much to
do. I have said in my report to you that we have this problem
of fixed effects, that is the areas we looked at 20 years ago
are still the same top ranking areas of deprivation now. That
is my argument to you, that we are not spending enough in these
areas to turn them round in a way that we really need to do. I
would have to say that the actual number of areas really significantly
turned round in a way which would suggest they are truly enterprising
and have turned the corner and a good place to live in again are
not the majority at the moment.
54. You talk about spending the money in the
areas. Do you have any confidence that much of the money has really
been spent in the areas? My impression is that on a lot of occasions
there have been consultants, council officials have been involved,
other people have actually taken the money out of the areas and
spent it somewhere else. Surely if you are really going to regenerate
these areas it is getting the money in and then the money spent
in the area so it goes round and round within the area. Is not
the major problem for most of these places that they are places
where the money hardly remains for a minute?
(Dr Tyler) I am going to have to disagree with that.
In SRB there has been £5 billion of public money, £26
billion overall in the 1,020 schemes. In those areas 60-odd per
cent has gone in the physical fabric which is in the area now,
it has not walked away.
55. It is physical fabric but most of the people
who are employed in doing those schemes did not come from the
area, did they? So in that sense the money did not go on going
(Dr Tyler) The amount of money which has gone on the
administration of most of these programmes, to my knowledge, has
been minimal; in SRB it has been roughly speaking five to seven
per cent which is relatively small given the responsibilities.
56. We looked at a scheme in Manchester where
a huge amount of money had been spent on the housing. When we
checked up, almost all the contractors who did that work did not
come from that neighbourhood, they came from outer Manchester.
So that money in wages went straight away from that area.
(Dr Tyler) It is very difficult in a country as integrated
as the United Kingdom to get local people to do local things necessarily.
It is difficult to make that work in that way. Wherever we have
tried that from the task force programmes in the 1980s through,
it has not proved easy to do that. It is an interesting concept
and we should all like to see most of the money retained in the
area, but in a country like ours it is very difficult to bring
that about. Better to build the right things, better to get the
right economic activity engendered there and that is the way forward.
57. How many of your evaluating teams actually
come from the areas in which the evaluation is being done?
(Dr Tyler) In my case looking at 1,000-odd schemes,
there is a fair chance that most of the people I have got working
come from one of those areas because we are those sorts of teams.
The NDC team is an example of people rooted in the area, who know
the area well, live in that area and want to see it succeed. I
do not follow this train of thought particularly. It does not
seem to be a big issue to me.
58. Some of us go back quite a long way and
we have had a general improvement area, housing action area, SRB,
neighbourhood renewal, now New Deal for Communities. On each occasion
they have been invested in or money has been put into them because
they are perceived to be the worst areas. Might it not have been
a bit better if we had found not quite the worst areas and tried
to stop areas sinking into a state of decline, recognising that
some areas, however much we put in, really are not going to be
(Dr Tyler) One fifth of SRB has been thematic and
gone to areas which have not been the deep-rooted areas. One of
the successful things about the SRB mechanism was that any partnership,
anywhere in England could make a bid. I think that flexibility
is to be welcomed because areas which felt they were on the slippery
slope could make a pre-emptive strike. That is something we must
not lose sight of. If we just keep concentrating on areas where
we know we have problems, we will have the other ones backing
up, as there will always be in any country.
(Professor Lawless) NDC obviously reflects on the
whole some of the worst areas within cities, but in many instances
it could have gone to several locations. In no city could you
definitively say this was absolutely the worst area; it obviously
depends on the kinds of indicators you use. One of the critical
things around all of these, particularly NDC where there are only
ever going to be 39, is what we learn from them. That is going
to be an absolutely vital issue in this. It is only a relatively
small proportion of deprived urban England and we must learn the
Chairman, Professor Lawless, Dr Tyler, thank
you very much indeed.