Saturday, 13 March 2010

NSNR Final Evaluation

Just over a week ago (4th March 2010), the final evaluations of two major English urban policy initiatives were published by CLG. One of these was the New Deal for Communities (NDC) final assessment - the other was the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal (NSNR) final report. This short post is about the latter document, which contains 119 pages in all.

The NSNR was launched in 2001 with the notion that "within 10 to 20 years no-one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live" - a very noble (unrealistic?) goal. The report itself covers the following, in some detail:
  • the nature of deprived neighbourhoods;
  • change in deprived areas;
  • factors influencing change in deprived neighbourhoods;
  • the impact of NSNR on deprived neighbourhoods;
  • the effectiveness of NSNR arrangements; and
  • lessons for the future.
With all such evaluations, however, the real issue is not the evaluation itself but the wider context within which the programme operates. It has been said that the most effective anti-poverty strategy is economic growth and in many ways this is true, but even in a period of sustained growth (e.g. 1997 to 2007) what we have seen is a deepening of concentrated deprivation in many cities, though there have been some successes. So, on p. 80 we have "overall value for money appeared to be good for the majority of the interventions" and on p. 112 a more engouraging statement: "in terms of value for money, NRF appears to have performed well – demonstrably so with regard to reducing worklessness in particular"

Some earlier work I was involved in at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies is reported from p. 18 to 21 and there are many other interesting results, data and maps. The report also makes a very kind acknowledgement of my input!