Tuesday 13 April 2010

Coalfield Regeneration

Catching up on some reading - specifically, the report on Regenerating the English Coalfields by the Committee of Public Accounts. Its conclusions on the effectiveness of interventions make for depressing, although not totally surprising reading.

The interventions have spent £630m so far on bring 54 coalfield sites back in to working use. But the committee "[has] serious concerns about the value for money of the coalfield initiatives. The Department does not know what improvement the initiatives had made to the lives of people living in the coalfield areas, as it does not have a robust assessment to prove to us the true number of additional jobs created. Nor does it know the business occupancy rates for employment space on the redeveloped sites, or the number of people from former coalfield communities who have benefited. The number of jobs the initiatives had helped to create could be anywhere between 8,000 and 16,000. We are concerned that public money has been invested to create jobs that would have been created anyway."

As I said, depressing - but not that surprising - once again lots of money on new buildings (physical regeneration represents a disproportionate amount of the money) has very unclear impacts on individual deprivation.

I am not that surprised about the fact that net job creation is poorly documented - this problem bedevils the assessment of RDA spatial interventions as well.