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Task Forces

Volume 168: debated on Wednesday 28 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he intends to make any changes to the location of inner city task forces; and if he will make a statement.

The Government's inner city task forces have proved highly successful in creating jobs, encouraging training opportunities and stimulating enterprise in the country's most deprived areas. Today, I have published a report, "Task Forces In Action" which shows how task forces are helping to achieve the Government's aim of regenerating the inner cities. Since they began, task forces have committed some £49 million to over 1,700 projects to help the people of inner city communities.The task force budget for 1990–91 will be £23·2 million, representing an increase of approximately 21 per cent. on this year's budget. I have today given approval for some 59 further task force projects involving funding of over £2 million.Task forces have always been part of a rolling programme, tackling difficult areas and then moving on. I am delighted to be able to announce that I have decided to establish two new task forces: one in the Wirral, one in Derby.I am also extending the existing task force, in north Kensington, into a part of the neighbouring borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. These task forces will work closely with the business community and with the local authority to improve the job and training opportunities for those in their area. They will all be starting their work as soon as possible.The two new task forces, like the existing ones, are not intended to be permanent. One of their aims is to foster the development of local organisations which can capitalise on the task force work when the task forces themselves leave.The task forces in Doncaster and Rochdale have now made significant progress in meeting those objectives, and I have consequently decided that they should close in the autumn. In the meantime, they will continue to build up the capacity of local bodies to take over their work in the future.

A number of important new projects by these task forces are among those I have announced today, and they will continue to welcome new proposals until the end of April 1990. Funding will also continue to be provided for a limited number of projects after the closure of the task forces.

I can also add that, over recent months, I have made 44 offers of regional selective assistance totalling over £17 million, which could create or safeguard over 3,200 jobs—most of them new ones—in inner city areas.