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My hon. Friend also mentioned the European regional development fund. Funding from its 2007 to 2013 programme, now managed by the European programme management unit in the London Development Agency, cannot be used to provide infrastructure, although it can support related supply-chain activity. As he will know, ERDF projects need to have match funding from elsewhere. As LDA funds are substantially committed, including for activity connected with the Olympics, I understand that only four out of 67 applications for
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funding submitted to the EPMU in the first ERDF application round in spring 2008 originated from other parts of the LDA. That was due to a lack of match funding.

The borough’s local area agreement, “Every Child Really Does Matter”, was signed off in 2006-07, and it included a set of stretching reward targets. If those targets are achieved by the end of the three-year period, Enfield will receive £9.6 million in reward grant. Those additional funds can be used to tackle deprivation. Again, the challenge is to reach out to people from an early age, and again, it is a generational challenge.

Mr. Love: May I focus my hon. Friend’s attention on the London-wide aspect of local area agreements? Many of the problems that we face in Enfield are related to the wider London context—worklessness, for example. Many of the people coming into Enfield from other places and from other parts of the world do not have the skills necessary to gain employment and therefore remain workless. We need support to address the intensity of the problems that we face.

Mr. Dhanda: I entirely agree. In his speech, my hon. Friend issued a challenge—he said that he wanted to be able to come and knock on my door or on other doors in the Department. I would be delighted to take up that offer, to see what specific assistance we can give him.

Let me say a little about local area agreements, which my hon. Friend mentioned. The challenge and drive of the new local area agreements could be the key. As he knows, money is not the only solution to the complex challenges that his constituency faces. As a Government, we are making a real difference by enabling a change in the way key local service providers and communities work together to deliver more efficient and, I hope, better local public services. The partnership approach has to be the way forward, and I believe Enfield takes that seriously.

I mentioned the new local area agreements—the new performance framework for local government, which
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was outlined in the White Paper “Strong and Prosperous Communities”. That framework is about improving the quality of life and improving public services. It brings together national standards and priorities set by Government and local priorities developed by the local authority and its partners.

The Government have significantly increased local authorities’ flexibility in the use of their mainstream resources by moving more than £4 billion of grants into the new non-ring-fenced area based grant. That is the key—the fact that Government are encouraging local government to cut out some of the bureaucracy that it has had to face in the past and meet the challenges that most affect local communities. That will minimise the barriers to local authorities using their mainstream resources to support local priorities where they wish to do so. For Enfield and Edmonton, those local priorities are the ones that my hon. Friend eloquently described. From 1 April 2008, those funds are allocated on a three-year basis to maximise stability and provide longer-term certainty.

Area based grant is a general grant allocated directly to local authorities as additional revenue funding. It is allocated according to specific policy criteria, rather than general formulae. Local authorities are free to use all of that non-ring-fenced funding as they see fit to support the delivery of local, regional and national priorities in their areas. Of the £4 billion national area based grant allocation, Enfield will receive about £15.8 million. As central Government no longer dictate to the local authority how much should be spent on each initiative, strategic decisions about how to spend the money will be made at local level and depend on local priorities. I urge local authorities to work with and listen to local Members of Parliament when deciding where best to place those resources.

I know that time is running short so I will conclude my remarks by saying that my hon. Friend has made an important contribution and I will continue to do all I can to help and support him. Our door is always open to him.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at one minute to Seven o’clock.


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