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Strategies for Underperforming Places

  • Year: 2011
  • Author: Paul Lawless, Henry Overman and Peter Tyler
  • Country: United Kingdom

This publication contains three papers:

The first paper, by Professor Paul Lawless of Sheffield Hallam University, looks at the impact of the New Deal for Communities (NDC) programme. The programme evaluation has shown more signs of positive change in relation to place outcomes (community, crime, and housing and the physical environment), than people outcomes (education, health, and worklessness). The NDC model assumed that transformatory change would require at least ten years, and that it was more likely if activity was focussed on relatively small areas. Evidence now suggests that both these assumptions are problematic.

The second paper, by Professor Henry Overman of the London School of Economics and Political Science, argues that focusing public expenditure on 'turning around' declining places has not worked. There is little evidence that area-based initiatives have reduced the performance gap between areas. Policies should focus primarily on people, through skills investment, rather than place. Policies often try to change the skills composition of an area, either through increasing existing residents' skills or by attracting new higher skilled people. Evidence is unclear as to whether these are effective.

The third research paper, by Professor Pete Tyler of the University of Cambridge, investigates long-term strategies for places with patterns of decline and underperformance, looking in particular at Birmingham. Local authorities are increasingly responsible for leading and coordinating local area regeneration.There is a need to understand how best to target actions in the labour market to address worklessness in the most deprived areas. Alongside investment in large scale development and infrastructure there is a need to enable enterprise and innovation.

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