A national strategy for neighbourhood renewal - 1998


This briefing sheet is a summary of Bringing Britain Together - A national strategy for neighbourhood renewal produced by the Social Exclusion Unit, published in September 1998.  Price £9.50, available from The Stationery Office, 0345 023474.

The remit provided by Government for the Social Exclusion Unit was: “develop  integrated and sustainable approaches to the problems of the worst housing estates, including crime, drugs, unemployment, community breakdown and bad schools etc...”


Super Summary

Government is to produce a comprehensive strategy on tackling social exclusion by end of 1999.

There are three main policy approaches

  • national mainstream policies - eg health, education, social services.
  • area programmes - concentrating on specific neighbourhoods
  • Government cross-disciplinary Action Teams - aiming to produce components of a national strategy which integrates policies across government departments


Chapter 1  - A Review of the Problems of Poor Neighbourhoods

Chapter 1 reviews the problems faced in poor neighbourhoods, including:

high unemployment - poverty trap, knowing few people in employment - few contacts, low skill levels - reduced employability

poor housing - largely applies to private rented accommodation, problem in some areas of houses becoming worthless owing to low demand

poor health - mortality ratios - 10-50 percent higher than average for England and Wales

high levels of crime: 10 percent of areas account for 40 percent of crime,  inner city residents are twice as likely to be burgled than residents elsewhere, racially motivated attacks are a big problem for a quarter of people in ethnic minorities - who have other problems including fluency in English, health, low incomes, and overcrowding.

drugs - survey in Glasgow showed hospital admissions of drug users were 30 times higher from the most deprived areas than from the most affluent areas.

poor  education - 1 in 4 children on “difficult to let” estates leaving school with no GCSEs + high truancy rates.

poor child play facilities

high rates of teenage pregnancies -  17 fold difference between different wards in Sheffield

limited access to services - eg no supermarket, post office, doctor, chemist etc, a feature of unpopular local authority estates, limited public transport restricting access to facilities elsewhere.

Other features - few people with bank accounts - dependency on “loan sharks”,.

Maps show that the problems correlate with each other:- where there is high unemployment, then poor health, and high levels of crime etc are also likely. 

Chapter 2 - A review of current knowledge of how to tackle poor neighbourhoods

Central/local government policies not helping - eg deprived areas have a limited share of education budget. Lack of linkages between government departments mean that awareness of the problems is limited.  Main funding source is social security, contribution from regeneration initiatives is very small.

Too many small and confusing initiatives  eg Inner City Task Force, Estate Action, City Challenge, SRB, Capital Challenge etc etc

Inflexible policies - eg Estates Renewal Fund did not generally allow demolition - even when this was the best option

Difficulties with coordination - many different agencies at national and local level, both within and outside Government.

Emphasis on investing in areas rather than in people - problems of schools, adult skills, childcare, health, leisure need to be tackled.

Oases of regeneration in deserts of deprivation - programmes have tried to regenerate individual neighbourhoods without considering the relationship with surrounding neighbourhoods - eg high crime levels.

Isolation of poor neighbourhoods - poor transport links add to problems of inadequate facilities

Communities not involved in renewal - pressure to bring regeneration programmes in quickly has limited the potential to involve communities.  Scheme leaders tend to resort to their own views rather than those of the community. (Notion of “patrician vision for a utopian future imposed on a grateful public”).

Lessons from past experience have not been learned

What has worked:

Helping long term unemployed into work

  • provide additional local services (eg landscaping, childcare, youthwork etc) through employing long term unemployed
  • provide support with handling finances, getting qualifications
  • grants for new local business
  • database of skills of local people

Area management

  • local cross department local authority team working with community
  • estate manager - to ensure estate is well maintained, handling emergencies etc.
  • estate wardens - 24-hour patrols to discourage anti-social behaviour,
  • graffiti removal by youths with money saved spent on new youth facilities

Holistic physical regeneration - new open space, commerce and retail, improvement of housing + youth and health initiatives

Holistic community regeneration - community safety, employment, education, health and family support

Community safety - enforcement of conditions of tenancy, support for problem families, high profile policing and enforcement by LA, backed by residents

10 year regeneration strategies - funded by diverting mainstream budgets

Letting agency for council-run housing  - fewer vacant properties, better social mix.

Partnerships with local business supporting training or education - helps reduce disaffection, promotes educational achievement, and employment.

3. National Policies To Combat Social Exclusion

Unemployment - New Deals, Employment Zones, National Child Care Strategy, Child Care Tax Credit.

Benefit system -  welfare reform: Working Families Tax Credit, the minimum wage; review of housing policy-housing benefit relationship.  Pensioners - higher Income Support, identification of pensioners who do not take up benefit entitlement.

Crime and drugs - national drugs strategy, crime reduction partnerships.

Young People - better education throughout the country plus - Education Action Zones, and work to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Housing - release of Capital Receipts, Best Value, Tenant Participation Compact, reform of local government.

Regional Development Agencies - to promote sustainable economic development .

Public Health - Inquiry into Health Inequalities, Health Action Zones, Healthy Living Centres in deprived areas.

Mental Health - more acute beds, support accommodation etc.

Local Policies - New area Programmes

The New Deal for Communities - starting in 17 pilot areas, initially £800 million  available over 3 years - proposals invited for partnership type initiatives aiming to tackle, poor job prospects, crime, neglected environment, lack of neighbourhood management - deadline for proposals 14 December 1998.

Sure Start - programme to support young children in deprived neighbourhoods. - 0-3 year olds target, health childcare, and support for  families - £540 million over three years.

Single Regeneration Budget - from April 1999 to be administered by the RDAs.   £1.3 billion over 3 years  on ongoing schemes - £700 million extra planned.  Covering areas of about 25,000 people.

Health , Education and Employment Zones - (not detailed)



National Strategy

“Joined up thinking” is to be promoted by 18 cross Government Department teams aiming to report back between April and December 1999.


Action Team

Getting the people to work

1. Jobs

2. Skills

3. Business

Getting the Place to Work

4. Neighbourhood management - develop concept of neighbourhood manager, person with clear responsibility to identify and ensure local needs are met - covering crime, housing, employment, youth problems, ill health etc.

5. Housing management - possibility of super care-takers - on the spot housing management

6. Neighbourhood Wardens - aiming to combat crime

7. Unpopular Housing - aiming to determining the main causes, identifying options eg demolition, redevelopment etc.

8. Anti-social behaviour - reducing incidence

9. Community self-help - exploring what works in getting communities to commit to

10. Arts and sport

A Future for Young People

11. Schools plus

12. Young people

Access to services

13. Shops - good practice in ensuring local shops - eg subsidising food co-operatives, use of planning policies, franchising, encouragement of large retailers

14. Financial Services - eg local credit unions

15. Information Technology - providing IT access to people in poor neighbourhoods

Making the government Working Better

16. Learning lessons - including twinning senior civil servants with poor neighbourhoods, training for regeneration professionals, need for a “university of regeneration” - or options for providing expertise and education through existing institutions etc.

17. Joining it up locally - best practice in eliminating social exclusion through local strategic planning; co-ordinating agencies and organisations,  coordination between national and local level plans

18. Better information - covering data on deprivation


The report also includes two annexes.

Annex 1 discusses measurements and indicators of  deprivation and their sources

Annex B lists key elements of neighbourhood management.


Robert Huxford