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Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Boost for inner cities
Gordon Brown and John Prescott in Peckham to launch inner city regeneration drive
A new drive to improve the inner cities - by all parties
The government has unveiled details of its plans to boost deprived inner city neighbourhoods.

The chancellor, Gordon Brown, said the government would spend 800m over the next three years on a Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, designed to improve housing, raise school standards, reduce crime and improve health.

Inner city boost
Birmingham: 44m
Manchester: 42m
Liverpool: 40m
Newham: 26m
Hackney: 23m
Bradford: 19.6m
Sheffield: 19.1m
Nottingham: 18.5m
Doncaster: 17.8m
Leeds: 16.8m
There will be 88 areas that will share the cash, which local authorities will be free to spend as they see fit within the designated zones.

But the Conservatives said the plans were a re-announcement of old money and that Labour's regeneration measures were "shambolic."

Mr Brown also promised further measures, to be announced in his pre-budget report next month, to boost private sector efforts in urban renewal.

Private sector boost

They may include tax breaks for businesses that invest in those areas, and the removal of stamp duty for building on so-called 'brownfield' sites - derelict inner city wasteland.

Archie Norman: regeneration plans 'shambolic'
"For high unemployment inner cities and regions, the pre-budget report will build on our spending programme, maximising the use of public money by offering new tax incentives allied to spending increases to encourage private sector investment," the chancellor said.

And he has also asked the government's Social Investment Taskforce, set up in April, to look at ways of using venture capital in the regeneration of inner cities.

The renewal fund is worth 100m in the financial year 2001-02, 300m in 2002-03, and 400m in 2003-04.

Further measures may also be announced when the government publishes its long-awaited Urban White Paper - one year after the architect Lord Rogers presented his Urban Task Force report.

Mr Rogers has criticised Labour for dragging its feet on implementing many of the measures he has suggested.

And Archie Norman, the shadow environment minister, said:

"This is another re-announcement of old money from a government whose failure to deliver has been exposed and which is yet again resorting to spin.

"Labour's regeneration programme has been shambolic. There is a plethora of disjointed initiatives with little rhyme or reason that are simply failing to tackle deprivation."

Peckham launch

Most of Britain's big urban areas will receive money from the fund. The largest recipients are Birmingham, which will get 44m over three years, Manchester, with 41m, and Liverpool, which gets 40m.

John Prescott: more freedom for local councils
John Prescott: More freedom for local councils
But some smaller, more rural councils also benefit, including Kerrier, in Cornwall, and Derwentside, the site of the former Consett steelworks in Durham.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who went to Peckham in south London with Mr Brown to launch the programme, said:

"The fund will provide extra, non-ring-fenced money to help local authorities in the most deprived areas spend on more teachers, police officers, crime prevention programmes, social services or any other services which deliver real improvements for the community."

Council will have to meet tough targets on crime, employment and education in order to receive the money, and must set up a local strategic partnership, bringing together public services and the community and business sectors.

Competing plans

All political parties are now competing to help the inner cities ahead of the general election which is widely expected next spring.

Last week at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth, William Hague announced plans to set up privately-run urban development companies to spur investment in run-down areas, and pledged more help on policing and crime prevention.

He also said he would demolish the worst tower blocks and free housing from planning restrictions.

And the Liberal Democrats have pledged in their pre-election manifesto to regenerate urban and rural areas through a single regeneration grants funding scheme.

They also want to encourage more building on brownfield sites by equalising VAT at a lower rate for new building and renovation, and allowing councils to replace business rates with site value taxation.

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See also:

09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Brown 'listening' ahead of budget
02 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Hague promises inner-city revival
02 Oct 00 | UK
Living for the city
30 Jun 00 | UK
Rogers: Put cities first
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