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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Prescott declares 'war on poverty'
Moss Side, Manchester
Moss Side in Manchester is a typically deprived area
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has declared "war on poverty" to revive England's most deprived areas.

Mr Prescott was unveiling the government's new National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal report compiled by the Social Exclusion Unit.

The document suggests a 10-year drive to cut crime, create jobs and improve public services in the worst areas.

Proposals include creating neighbourhood wardens and neighbourhood learning centres, support for businesses willing to move into deprived areas and selective demolition of unlettable property.

It also calls for the growth of credit unions and development of the Post Office network to provide more financial services.

Run down area
Strategy will target poorest districts
Mr Prescott said the aim was to strengthen the community spirit and get local people to make their own decisions.

"Today marks the launch of the next battle in this government's war on poverty.

"In the past governments have compensated people for the lack of work and for their poverty.

"In future we'll be tackling the causes of poverty and investing to create jobs and support enterprise. We need more businesses in our poorest areas, not more benefit offices."

Mr Prescott said in many cases government policies, such as getting people back into work, had failed to benefit such areas.

'Left out'

"While we have been increasing employment and getting some of the improvements in education standards and health standards, many of these areas have been left out.

"It's because they're isolated and they have these great difficulties and have almost given up on actual help. What we want to do is actually help."

The consultation document also highlights the growing gap between rich and poor over the last 20 years.

It shows that poverty has become more concentrated in individual estates where people have become more excluded from society's mainstream.

They suffer mortality rates up to 30% higher than the rest of the country, a 25% higher rate of poor skills and literacy, three times as much burglary and six times as much unemployment.

In a foreword, Prime Minister Tony Blair describes the job of regenerating poor neighbourhoods as "a top priority for this government".

At the same time as launching the report Mr Prescott announced that seven of England's very poorest estates would receive support from the New Deal for Communities Programme.

The East Brighton estate in Brighton, Preston Road in Hull, Kensington in Liverpool, Westgate in Newcastle upon Tyne, the North Earlham and Marlpit in Norwich, Radford in Nottingham and the Ocean Estate in Tower Hamlets will share more than 300m.

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See also:

22 Jul 98 | UK Politics
Cash to revamp run-down homes
01 Oct 98 | Labour Conference
Prescott pledges 'urban renaissance'
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