Les Huckfield

Consultant

Resources for lasting regeneration and real community empowerment was also a concern back in the spring of 2006 – even at the height of the pre crash financial bubble.

SURF provides a space for independent thought and debate about aspects of regeneration in Scotland. Sometimes that means making waves, not just for the sake of it, but because constructive discourse is a basis for progress.

In the third of our special Making Waves articles, consultant Les Huckfield, calls for more support for real community involvement.

Background

There can be little doubt that Scotland is a very egalitarian country and that the Scottish Executive has “its heart in the right place”. But despite significant resources for regeneration and a wide range spread of people, skills and aspirations – all committed to alleviating community deprivation and social exclusion – is social justice in Scotland working well? The Social Focus on Deprived Areas, published by the Scottish Executive’s National Statistics Office in September 2005, shows that poverty and deprivation are as deeply ingrained as ever and that in some areas have actually got worse.

Glasgow – the best and the worst

Though Glasgow offers examples of retail developments of which any City in Europe might be proud, it also has some of the worst examples of poverty and deprivation. The worse it gets, the most likely it is to be found in Glasgow.

• 70% of the 5% most deprived areas are in Glasgow

• 50% of the 10% most deprived areas are in Glasgow

• 38% of the 15% most deprived areas are in Glasgow.

In 2003 the Scottish Executive published a new index of multiple deprivation (SIMD) by region. It attempted to measure and rank five key parameters:

• income; employment; health and disability; education, skills and training; and geographical access to services

Based on this index, Glasgow is the most deprived region with a score of 46.88. East Dunbartonshire, which actually shares a long boundary with Glasgow, is the least deprived region, with a score of 9.07. The situation is shown most acutely in Fuel Poverty. Section 95 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 produced the following definition of ‘fuel poverty’:

‘A household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income (including Housing Benefit or Income Support for Mortgage Interest) on all household fuel use.’

The poorest decile of Glasgow’s population spends on average a remarkable 24% of net income on fuel, with no guarantee that required indoor temperatures are actually achieved. This compares with 3.2% for the richest decile.

A report by Energy Action Scotland into the effects of VAT on fuel poverty confirmed the “fuel poor’s” predicament – that they are more likely to be living in poorly constructed, uninsulated dwellings without central heating and a high proportion are forced to use ‘expensive’ domestic tariff electricity for heating purposes.

But in other deprived elsewhere areas across Scotland, the situation is little better:

• 25% of men of working age in the 15% most deprived areas are either on incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance (compared 9% in the rest of Scotland)

• 30% of working age population in the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland is claiming key employment related benefits.

• 40% of children in the 15% most deprived areas are dependent on a recipient of income support – compared with 10% for rest of Scotland.

• In the 10% most deprived areas, in absolute terms, the proportion of those of pensionable age with limiting long term illness increased from 47% in 1991 to 65% in 2001. But in relative terms across all areas this increased by around 50% between 1991 and 2001.

• In the 10% most deprived areas in 2001, more than 4 times as many working age people (33%) had a limiting long term illness than in the 10% least deprived areas (8%)

• Life expectancy in the 10% most deprived areas is 70 years, compared with 81 years in the 10% least deprived areas, and 76 years in Scotland.

• Mortality rates for those aged under 75 in the 10% most deprived areas are 845 per 100,000 of the population compared to 265 per 100,000 in the 10% least deprived areas. This means that the mortality rates for those aged under 75 in the 10% most deprived areas are three times as high as those in the 10% least deprived areas.

Not much money for a Scottish solution

These statistics show a worrying situation – especially as they follow waves of successive regeneration packages and programmes, such as Better Neighbourhood Services and SIPs, from the Executive. Following these, the current three year £318mn Community Regeneration Fund Programme really will not go far. For example, in Dundee the Regeneration Outcome Agreement is based on £17.5mn over three years. For North Lanarkshire, the ROA means £33mn over three years. These are small sums alongside the scale of the problems revealed above and already much funding from these allocations is earmarked to keep existing regeneration staffing and initiatives going.

Not much money from elsewhere

The other big worry is that Scotland’s EU Funding Envelope will shrink rapidly after 2006 and 2007, when new European Union Programmes begin. During the EU Programme Period from 2000 to 2006, from various Programmes Scotland has received around £1,000mn – which has been used to supplement numerous business support and regeneration programmes. Scotland will fare very well if it receives one third of this in the new programme period from 2007 to 2013.

On top of this, Lottery Funding will gradually diminish – both because people are buying fewer tickets and because Lottery money will increasingly be siphoned off to support the London Olympics in 2012.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are rumblings from many in the South East as they raise their voices louder with their perception of Barnett Formula favouring Scotland. And they want it changed.

So the external funding opportunities will get tighter and the opportunities fewer.

The way forward – real community involvement

All this means that if the Executive is minded to continue with its current approach, there is not enough future funding to support this. New ways of doing things will have to be devised. Present policies focus on a continuing commitment of significant public sector resources or rely increasingly on incentives to encourage private sector participation.

Under many current initiatives, though some physical change undoubtedly occurs where money is actually spent and time limited or low skill jobs are created in the immediate vicinity, there may often be little beyond this which is lasting or durable. We cannot rely on Tesco’s efforts to increase market share as an instrument of community regeneration!

Meanwhile, alongside these conventional regeneration strategies, Scotland is developing an interesting range of more localised structures for greater community involvement. Especially in the Highlands and Islands, the Land Reform and Land Purchase movements have spawned a range of Community Interest Companies, Development Trusts and Social Enterprises. As the fast growing membership of the Scottish Development Trust Association shows, these are now spreading throughout Scotland. Though these currently may have more localised aspirations than larger scale conventional regeneration programmes, there is much evidence to show that they are beginning to work and deliver sustainably what may really change people’s lives.

Big Lottery and growing community assets 

Experience already shows that the Scottish Land Fund has enabled community ownership and control of assets to achieve a critical role in making communities stronger and more sustainable. The new Big Lottery Fund (which amalgamates the New Opportunities and Communities Funds) is about to commit £50 million to “Growing Community Assets” – which will fund communities to acquire assets and will provide that funding across both urban and rural Scotland.

The administration and handling for process is now out to tender. Significant funding will soon be available to enable communities to acquire, develop, improve, protect, manage, enjoy, understand and sustain environmental and other assets – for the benefit of the community and the wider environment.

With support from The Big Lottery and other funding, this growing process could bring into community ownership much more land and buildings and provide a new focus for many neighbourhoods. It could enable communities to buy vehicles, or land, or provide local facilities such as communal gardens or play parks and could create community farms or local wind farms.

Above all, this new process will enable Community Development Trusts to begin taking on the mantle of mini Local Economic Development Companies or Urban Regeneration Companies and other structures. Through attraction of other funding, these new structures could also build community/public/private partnerships and joint ventures using similar models. While no one pretends that overnight these new structures might replicate Govan Initiative, or regenerate the Clyde Waterfront or Craigmillar, there is no reason why through joint working, Community Development Trusts, in partnership with others, should not work towards more significant achievements.

Finding required skills

I can already hear the cry “but they don’t have the skills”. But as the present regeneration structures become ever more enmeshed in complex EU Procurement rules and face the an ever present possible legal challenge or judicial review, much current public sector input into public/private sector partnerships has become heavily reliant on engineering, legal, financial and other technical expertise externally provided by the private sector. Now that issues such as Public Realm and Community Benefit are rightly embedded in more tendering processes, unless they are Edinburgh or Glasgow-size, there are few City Councils or Community Development Trusts with the required mix of these essential skills. Whatever the structure, across Scotland, the wider urban regeneration panorama is generously populated by external consultants.

Not all these new structures or processes may need to follow the same EU Procurement rules. There is a range of lesser possibilities or formulae through which a Community Development Trust might contribute land or other assets while a private sector developer might contribute an equal range of premises, funding, expertise or resources. Though the Executive, COSLA and the rest could produce rules setting out basic requirements for these procedures, there seems little reason why much of this should not proceed under existing legislation.

Not a criticism

Finally, none of this is meant as a criticism of the overall funding priorities of the Executive and of the many proud and generous local authorities in Scotland. One can only stand in awe of the scale of publicly funded rebuilding in many parts of the country. However, the blunt truth is that many of these policies cannot be afforded in future and they are not all delivering significant improvements. There has to be another way. We need alternative regeneration strategies which really involve communities. We must create and develop models and structures which will remain rooted in local areas and hopefully begin to make a real and lasting difference.

A way forward?

The Executive in August 2003 published a Consultation Document on Urban Regeneration Companies called “Challenging Practice, Testing Innovation”. The Executive’s conclusion from the consultation, published in June 2004, was that

“It is clear that a “one size fits all” approach is not supported and URCs are not seen as a panacea for all regeneration activities but should be considered as one of a selection of tools which can be used to accelerate growth and deliver regeneration”.

This piece endorses that conclusion. For the next wave of URC structures, a wider range of organisations might be invited to submit applications for Pathfinder Status, including Community Development Trusts and other community based organisations. For example, a Community Development Trust, in partnership with a Housing Association, would be ideal for a CASPAR (City-centre apartments for single people at affordable rents) development of affordable city centre accommodation for single people. And there are already precedents such as Bradford Trident – a Development Trust which ran a significant Single Regeneration Budget Programme.

With Community Development Trusts or not, without continuing community involvement many current regeneration initiatives and policies will continue to produce mixed results. David Milliband and ODPM will shortly be producing discussion documents and a White Paper which will institutionalise community involvement in England. In Scotland, a further round of Pathfinder URCs, with some led by Community Trusts, could provide an interesting variant.

It was summed up best when a Communities Scotland representative recently said that his greatest fear was that a particular regeneration project “might need doing all over again in fifteen years time”. Regeneration should be once in a lifetime rather than once every fifteen years.

 

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33 - Winter - Spring 2005-2006

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Creative Scotland
Dundee Partnership
Glasgow City Council
GQ
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Historic Environment Scotland
Museums Galleries Scotland
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Wheatley Group