HC Deb 11 May 1988 vol 133 cc151-2W
68. Mr. Battle

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a further statement on inner city policy.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The Government have stepped up the attack on urban decay and have given priority to encouraging investment in inner city areas through a range of measures amounting to some £3,000 million in 1988–89. They launched a new Action for Cities drive in March 1988 which included a new urban development corporation in Sheffield and the extension of the existing corporation in Merseyside, in addition to the earlier announcement of proposals to establish new corporations in Leeds, central Manchester and Bristol; streamlined grants to encourage the development of inner city land and buildings; more help for small businesses in inner city areas; further Government support for links between schools and employers; new crime prevention initiatives and better inner city roads. Good progress has already been made with these new measures.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is very shortly to lay orders before the House to establish the urban development corporations in Leeds, Bristol, central Manchester and Sheffield. Approvals worth over £7 million have been made for projects eligible for city grant.

The first of six new small firms service offices was opened by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Employment in Sheffield on 19 April. Others are planned for Leicester, Derby, Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office launched the first of 20 safer cities crime prevention projects in Wolverhampton on 7 April.

Two successful breakfast presentations to senior business men have been held in Newcastle and Leeds, with others to follow in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and London. They have helped to encourage business interest in inner city regeneration, and nearly 100 companies have made positive offers of help.

Over 40 inquiries have been received from companies, employer groups and other organisations about the schools-industry compacts initiative, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has written to major employers inviting them to take advantage of development funds available to establish compacts.

Several possible projects have been identified for potential support under the local enterprise agency project scheme. New city action teams based in Leeds and Nottingham, in addition to those already established in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne are helping to pull together the various Government programmes involved and to sustain the momentum of local regeneration. At neighbourhood level, 16 inner city task forces support projects which open up job and enterprise opportunities for local residents. They have to date made contact with some 400 companies.