Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 11:41 UK

Criticism over deprived communities report

Plas Madoc, Wrexham
214m has been spent on Communities First projects since 2001

A report which criticised the assembly government's Communities First scheme has been described as "unbalanced and partial" by officials.

The report by the Public Accounts Committee found the assembly government failed to show the regeneration scheme demonstrated value for money.

But assembly government officials have reacted angrily to the report.

It said many of the local regeneration partnerships felt disappointed that their work had not been valued.

However, Jonathan Morgan AM, chair of the cross party committee which wrote the report denied being partial, saying criticisms were aimed at the assembly government and not individual partnerships.

Despite attacking criticisms in the report, the assembly government has accepted all 12 recommendations made by the committee.

The Welsh government was unable to demonstrate the value for money of the £214m it has spent on this programme
Jonathan Morgan AM, chair of Public Accounts Committee

There are 188 projects to improve communities across Wales, covering nearly 200 deprived districts.

Earlier this year First Minister Carwyn Jones said there were "some excellent examples of Communities First delivering across the whole of Wales".

'Complex issues'

In its official response to the report, the assembly government said it "believes that the body of the report is unbalanced and partial, compared to the report undertaken by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) on the programme".

It added: "The Communities First programme addresses complex, deep-rooted and inter-linked issues in deprived communities, in an innovative and flexible way."

The assembly government said the report did not "give sufficient credit to the good work being undertaken by Communities First partnerships and co-ordinators at a local level".

The Public Accounts Committee report, published in February, found that the assembly government had failed to demonstrate value for money for the Communities First programme.

It said the scheme, which has cost £214m since its launch in 2001, lacked clear leadership from the top down, which was affecting delivery on the ground in some of Wales' most deprived areas.

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Jonathan Morgan, said: "I welcome the Welsh government's acceptance of all the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee.

'Highly critical'

"However, I strongly refute the attempt by the Welsh government to question the impartiality of the cross-party Public Accounts Committee.

"As a committee, we looked at the Communities First programme and what we found led us to issue a report, unanimously agreed, that was highly critical of the Welsh government's construction and management of this programme, not of individual Communities First partnerships."

He said the report recognised that "good work is being done locally by Communities First partnerships".

He added: "The Welsh government was unable to demonstrate the value for money of the £214m it has spent on this programme and the Wales Audit Office's recent report in relation to the Plas Madoc partnership has reiterated serious concerns over the Welsh government's management."

Community scheme was 'mismanaged'
17 Mar 10 |  Wales
Jones defends regeneration scheme
23 Feb 10 |  Wales politics

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