HC Deb 09 May 1991 vol 190 cc560-1W
Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he intends to make any changes to the location of the inner-city task forces; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Leigh

Inner-city task forces have always been part of a rolling programme, tackling difficult areas and then moving on. I have decided to establish three new task forces: one in Hackney, one in Hull and one in South Tyneside. These task forces will work closely with the business community, the training and enterprise council and with the local authority to improve the job and training opportunities for those in the area. They will all be starting their work by the end of the year. The three new task forces, like the existing ones, are not intended to be permanent. One of their aims is to foster the development of local organisations which can capitalise on the task forces' work when the task forces themselves leave.

The task forces in Leeds, Hartlepool and Spitalfields have now made significant progress in meeting these objectives, and I have consequently decided that they should close in the autumn. In the meantime, they will continue to build up the capacity of local bodies to take over their work in the future, and they will continue to welcome new proposals until the end of June 1991. Funding will also continue to be provided for a limited number of projects after the closure of the task forces.

Task forces have proved highly successful in creating jobs, encouraging training opportunities and stimulating enterprise in the country's most deprived areas. Since they began, task forces have committed some £73 million to over 2,700 projects to help the people of inner city communities. A recent independent evaluation of the task force initiative by PA Cambridge Economic Consultants concluded that task forces are successfully and cost-effectively meeting their objectives and helping to achieve the Government's aim of regenerating the inner cities. A copy of this report is available in the Library.