First for regeneration
Evaluation Lessons - NDCs have had a 'modest' impact
Friday, 13 January 2006
Project: New Deal for Communities (NDC) programme
Period of evaluation: 2001-2005
Evaluating organisation: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University
Evaluated commissioned by: The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit
Aims and outline of project NDC partnerships made up of residents, government agencies, voluntary groups and local firms in 39 deprived parts of England have ten-year plans to improve housing, the physical environment, health and education, and to cut unemployment and crime.
Scope of evaluation: To assess the first phase of the NDC programme.
Adam Fineberg writes: Among the objectives of the NDC programme was a wish to create agencies dedicated to neighbourhood renewal that would coordinate the activities of the various organisations involved in that process.
However, the report finds that there can be tensions between targets to which agencies are working and those of community-based organisations such as NDCs. Agencies have to respond to central government targets, but these will not necessarily be seen as priorities by NDCs. Secondary schools have generally not seen neighbourhood renewal as a priority, for example, when compared with national educational attainment goals.
The evaluation sees the NDCs' experience as an unprecedented opportunity for the neighbourhood renewal community to learn. Perhaps the main lesson to date is this: "Effective neighbourhood renewal requires a holistic or joined-up approach. Residents suffer from a wide range of interrelated problems. Statistical analysis has shown only too clearly the close relationships... (between), say, the fear of crime, health, mental illness, social capital and worklessness." More than anything else, the programme shows that joined-up problems require joined-up solutions.
Another important finding was that the overall improvement in NDC areas relative to that in deprived, non-NDC areas has generally been "modest". Concluding their assessment, the evaluators refer back to the underlying principles of the programme, asking: "The key question for the second half of the programme is this: will the (activities) carried out by partnerships in their early years help to achieve strategic and transformational change of these neighbourhoods, evidence for which is, as yet, relatively muted?"
- Adam Fineberg is an independent regeneration consultant. He devised the Growth Coalitions project (see www.growthcoalitions.org.uk).
- New Deal for Communities 2001-2005: An Interim Evaluation is available via www.regen.net/doc
Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Matt Ross on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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