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Urban Programme

Volume 100: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1986

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many jobs have been created under the urban programme.

The urban programme has created or retained about 24,000 jobs each year through support to capital projects since it was substantially expanded in 1982–83, and projects approved for urban development grant should generate some 20,000 permanent jobs.

In the light of his reply, does my hon. Friend agree that well targeted—

We seem to be in the business of getting the wrong names today, but never mind.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in the light of his reply, well targeted schemes to help inner-city areas are a more effective way in which to promote economic growth and to provide real jobs in the community?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need the best possible targeting on inner city areas which are suitable for development. Above all else, we must concentrate on areas where there can be the type of regeneration that leads to successful job creation, such as the urban programme has been responsible for. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I intend that, in future, the economic job-creating components of the urban programme will get an increased share of available moneys.

Does the Minister agree that one of the major obstacles in the programme is the need for money to be spent by the end of the current financial year? Is he aware that, by delaying approval, his Department is putting an intolerable burden on local authorities, which must ensure that they get their specifications and tenders out and that the work is done by the end of the year?

I understand that my Department's urban housing renewal unit has, with the co-operation of the hon. Gentleman's city council, recently approved a scheme for one of the big housing estates in his constituency. The council is confident of being able to spend that money. It just requires proper co-operation and planning between the Department and the council. We are very pleased to help in Hull, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman's constituents are also pleased.