Pool money to fight deprivation, MSPs urge Scots executive
New Start magazine
Members of the Scottish Parliament have called for one fund to combat deprivation following an in-depth review of public spending on regeneration.
The review, by the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee, identified ten funding streams spread over five departments and agencies that are specifically targeted at areas of deprivation.
However, it also found confusing eligibility criteria, poor coordination, too much bureaucracy, unhelpful ring-fencing and short term funding which ends whether or not a project is worthwhile.
In addition, the emphasis on area based funding means resources are targeted at deprived areas which contain just 40% of poor households and 33% of unemployed people.
‘In short, area deprivation is a convenient model for targeting areas for regeneration purposes, but not for tackling multiple deprivation in a comprehensive way,’ the report says. ‘The executive has always recognised this key difference in principle but has not produced funding streams to tackle problems of multiply-deprived households.’
The report calls for a single deprivation fund incorporating the community regeneration fund, housing estate regeneration fund, working for families fund, tackling antisocial behaviour fund and funding for tackling education deprivation.
Worth around £230m a year, this would provide resources to community planning partnerships. Local authorities could be required to provide match funding.
Committee convenor Des McNulty said: ‘Separate streams of funding create unnecessary bureaucracy and have fostered the growth of a “deprivation industry”, which needs to be trimmed back.
‘Far too much money is swallowed up unproductively because resources are routed through area based organisations or local government departments, who have kept out more efficient voluntary sector providers. We strongly recommend greater use of tendering and contracting to ensure tangible results and better value for money.’
The Scottish Executive said it would ‘make no apology’ for targeting areas of multiple deprivation, but added: ‘We are committed to simplifying and better coordinating funding streams as part of wider public service reform.’
Abigail Howard head of policy and research at the Wise Group employment charity in Glasgow, welcomed the recommendations. She said: ‘We need to simplify funding and take a larger scale and more flexible approach. With employment programmes focusing funding on small local areas rather than travel to work areas or city-regions there is a significant loss of opportunity to link in with larger regeneration approaches.’
Jon Harris, strategic director at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said the move to bring together funding streams focused on outcomes was to be welcomed.
Cross-cutting expenditure review of deprivation, www.scottish.parliament.uk