Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Question 80-83)



  80. Yes; absolutely. I am just wondering whether training should be a bigger part of these initiatives than perhaps it might have been.
  (Ms Smith) That is right. Interestingly enough, one of the things we found as part of the neighbourhood renewal research we have done this year is that the training and the message seem to have got through at senior levels; that does not seem to be the barrier. The problem is that often then it has not cascaded down throughout the organisation and the middle managers and sometimes the project managers may be confused as to where their organisation is going with regeneration. What we are calling for is better training at that level, so people can understand the implications of new policy for their day to day job.


  81. For the benefit of the Committee could you identify these areas which have achieved this paradigm of initiative co-ordination?
  (Mr Webster) I shall be in a better position to identify this in a number of weeks' time when we publish the results of our comprehensive performance assessment. We highlighted Hartlepool recently in an inspection, where we felt that kind of progress had been made. I think I would feel better if I went away and reflected on that. If the Committee would like, I can write and add to our evidence. I could name some places, but I may have better criteria.

  82. That is fine. In my own community, one of the most popular initiatives around is Sure Start because people do understand it. They see what it is trying to achieve and they have a connection with it and it seems to work. Is it a mistake therefore? On the other hand, I am not quite so sure that the education action zones and the health action zones will be quite as well owned by the community in terms of what they are trying to achieve.
  (Mr Webster) We would find that. Do you want to add what we found on that?
  (Ms Smith) Referring back to the research we did for neighbourhood renewal, a lot of people told us that Sure Start is an excellent initiative. We really do think it is best practice and does seem to be a way of targeting money to children living in deprived neighbourhoods. It does seem to do that. It will be many, many years before we can determine whether it delivers value for money and whether or not it is effective, because at the end of the day it is about deflecting people who might have gone down a route of crime in their teenage years into something a bit more wholesome. There are issues about when we can evaluate it.

Andrew Bennett

  83. If there are cleverer criminals, then it is not a success.
  (Mr Webster) If they are so clever they never get caught, then it probably would not be measured as a success. Responding a little further to the question, there are many issues within Sure Start which would feature in many of the issues around this whole area, issues of governance, issues of leadership, issues of how people work in partnership, issues about how people with not very much time get called upon to do quite substantial pieces of development work. Many of those things. People identify very strongly with the purpose and maybe that is the real message. If people could be as clear about the purpose, a lot of the issues they have with the process would start to melt away.

  Chairman: Mr Webster, we thank you and your colleagues for your evidence.

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