Tuesday, September 15, 1998 Published at 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
£800m lifeline for 'no-go' estates
Demolished: More estates could go the way of Glasgow's Gorbals
The government has named 17 areas to pilot an £800m attempt to improve some of the country's most deprived and crime ridden estates.
The 'pathfinder areas' where the first stage of the New Deal for Communities will be tested are:
He said it was "a priority for government which affects us all".
But Mr Blair warned it was not just a question of spending money to find solutions.
"Homes, health, crime, vandalism, employment and training opportunities, new community facilities - the whole lot has to be tackled."
Mr Blair has promised to set up a series of regional action teams of ministers, officials and business and community experts to try to improve the situation.
There will be extra money which people around the country can bid for.
In a preface to a report from the government's Social Exclusion Unit, the prime minister writes: "We all know the problems of our poorest neighbourhoods - decaying housing, unemployment, street crime and drugs. People who can, move out.
"Nightmare neighbours move in. Shops, banks and other vital services close.
Mr Blair's speech followed an article in The Express where he accepted that some housing projects are "sinking ships" and beyond redemption.
"Some estates are beyond rescue and will never be places where people want to live," he told the newspaper.
"That could mean moving people to new homes, levelling the site and using the land for something the public wants."
The social exclusion report says the UK still has "pockets of intense deprivation where the problems of unemployment and crime are acute and hopelessly tangled up with poor health, housing and education".
It estimates that England alone has about 3,000 such neighbourhoods, not all of them local-authority housing estates or high-rise blocks.
The report blames mistakes by past governments that have tended to concentrate the poor and unemployed together in neighbourhoods where hardly anyone has a job.
The Social Exclusion Unit, was set up last year to tackle social problems that in the past have slipped through the cracks between different branches of the government bureaucracy.
The unit's first report tackled truancy and exclusion of troublesome pupils from school, and the second dealt with the homeless.