HC Deb 16 March 1987 vol 112 cc399-400W
Mr. Murphy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will outline the effects of Government policy since 1979 on the residents of inner city areas.

Mr. John Patten

Since 1979 the Government have developed a range of programmes and initiatives to make inner cities more competitive and improve the quality of life of their residents. Some £3,350 million has been directed to inner city areas since 1979 through specific targeted programmes which are the responsibility of my Department, in addition to support through main programmes and other initiatives.

Since 1979 resources for the urban programme, the single most important instrument of Government support for the inner cities, have increased by 73 per cent. in real terms, from £93 million to £324 million. The urban programme supports about 12,000 inner city projects which encourage individual enterprise and business development, improve the environment and housing and support self-help by local communities.

Inner city residents have benefited from Government action to: Encourage business and enterprise; specific initiatives developed since 1979 include urban development grant which is attracting nearly £450 million in private investment to support 232 projects which will provide more than 4,600 homes and nearly 24,000 jobs, urban development corporations in London and Merseyside docklands where public investment of over £400 million since 1981 is attracting private capital of over £1,600 million, providing several thousand new homes and sites for over 200 new firms. Tackle dereliction; since 1979 over 24,000 acres of land have been reclaimed through derelict land grant, the resources for which have doubled in real terms. Some 25 per cent. of DLG resources are directed to inner city areas. 50,000 acres have been removed from the land registers of underused public land, which were introduced in 1981. promote development; powers were taken in the Housing and Planning Act 1986 to pay urban regeneration grant to support development packages on larger urban sites. lift controls there are 23 enterprise zones in the United Kingdom in which developers and industrialists can benefit from capital allowances and abatement of rates. Simplified planning zones are being introduced in which developers would benefit from streamlined planning procedures. improve housing; action has been taken to break up monolithic housing estates and restore tenure choice. Over one million public sector dwellings have been sold since 1979, and owner occupation has risen from 55 per cent. to 63 per cent. Since 1979 grants totalling £2,500 million have been given for home improvements, half of which are currently directed to inner city areas. Some 80 per cent. of support through the Housing Corporation for new projects is directed to designated inner city stress areas. Since 1985 special help has been available to local authorities through the Department of the Environment's estate action initiative to improve municipal estates and involve tenants more closely in their management and maintenance. improve co-ordination of programmes; the Government set up city action teams in 1985 in the inner city partnership areas of London (Hackney, Islington and Lambeth), Newcastle-Gateshead, Manchester-Salford, Liverpool and Birmingham to oversee £700 million annual direct spending by the Department of the Environment, Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry. Inter-departmental task forces were set up in 1986 in eight small inner city areas to work with local communities in tackling unemployment and other urban problems.

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