Evaluation Lessons - Policy must build on SRB success

Friday, 13 April 2007

BACKGROUND
Project: Single Regeneration Budget (SRB)
Period of evaluation: 1994-2004
Evaluating organisation: University of Cambridge

Evaluation commissioned by: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Aims and outline of project: The Single Regeneration Budget has been one of the major forms of support for local area regeneration in England. Although there have been changes in approach and administration arrangements, certain key features have remained throughout. These are: partnership-led regeneration; local scheme development; and a competitive bidding regime.

KEY LESSONS

Adam Fineberg writes: The SRB came about during an era characterised - like today's - by a range of disparate regeneration initiatives. However, in those days they accounted for far less public expenditure. The SRB was to be the country's dominant regeneration budget, funding economic, social and physical initiatives undertaken by the public, private and voluntary sectors. This followed the City Challenge programme, which piloted output-based and action-orientated working, trailblazing a culture change that reflected private sector and US practice, and which, ultimately, permeated the public service in England.

The report states that, over its lifetime, SRB provided a workable and popular format for levering in private sector funds. The debate about what one includes in terms of private sector spend or other "in-kind" benefits secured via private sector involvement is an interesting one, and one which the report considers in some detail. I would have thought that a longitudinal study that considered indices of the health, vitality and productivity of local economies would have been helpful in determining the extent to which the SRB supported the development of sustainable economies and regeneration. This might have provided a better indicator of how successful the programme was in securing beneficial private sector involvement.

The evaluation concludes by stating that more needs to be done to tackle the needs of deprived areas more effectively, and that there is a role for all local stakeholders in undertaking this task. It points to a need to ensure that future efforts focus on the viability and well-being of an area by addressing the failures of private sector markets.

- Adam Fineberg is an independent policy and regeneration consultant and an associate consultant to the Improvement and Development Agency.

- Single Regeneration Budget: Final Evaluation is available via www.regen.net/doc - See Feature, p20.

Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Adam Branson on adam.branson@haymarket.com.

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