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Building a Sustainable Future: Regeneration Discussion Paper


Chapter 1: What have we learnt and what should our priorities be?

14. Concentrations of deprivation in our towns and cities have been among the most challenging and persistent public policy issues. For more than 40 years governments have instigated initiatives designed to moderate the scale of social, economic and physical disadvantage. A separate analytical paper providing a broad overview of regeneration practice and lessons learned in the UK context is published on our website, as well as analytical papers on private sector involvement in regeneration, an exploration of the economic rationale for regeneration and briefing papers summarising lessons learned through our learning networks. This chapter summarises the lessons from the review of past regeneration experience, the impacts of the credit crunch, looks at some statistics for Scotland by deprived areas and considers the challenges for the future.

Key findings from previous regeneration initiatives

15. The need for a combined physical, social and economic approach to regeneration has been well proven and remains important. However, evidence shows that there has been a tendency for regeneration activities to focus mainly on physical change and development, as tangible and visible achievements. 2 The GoWell research programme has found that in the Glasgow communities studied there has been more progress in terms of physical than social regeneration thus far. 3 Similarly Fyfe's review of Scottish initiatives states that there has often been an imbalance between physical, social and economic programmes, run by different organisations with different priorities. He states there is a need to use the Scottish Government focus on outcomes to develop a stronger, shared approach to tackling the problems of the most disadvantaged areas. 4

16. The importance of addressing worklessness to achieve lasting transformation of areas is a key consideration, although it has been found to be a consistently difficult challenge for regeneration initiatives to address. The assumption that wealth generated by economic development would "trickle down" to the poor through job creation is now widely discredited. 5 Evidence supports the provision of tailored support and skills development, alongside integrating an understanding of local geography, cultural attitudes and wider economic factors.

17. Partnership working, along with strong leadership and clear visioning, has become the accepted approach to regeneration. Partnerships are seen to limit some of the pitfalls of earlier forms of urban regeneration by sharing expertise; expanding access to financial resources; and helping meet the needs of local residents through community participation. However, it has been suggested that some critical thinking about how partnerships should be led and whether they are appropriate in all circumstances may be beneficial. For example, Ball and Maginn (2005) have suggested that there is a need for greater attention to be paid to the ways in which projects are managed and the contexts in which partnerships are useful and when they are not. 6

18. The level of funding and project timescales are key. Evidence shows that many regeneration initiatives have been largely isolated from mainstream programmes and services, with governments tending to pursue short-term initiatives rather than taking a longer-term perspective driven by changes in mainstream services with greater local co-ordination. 7 We have an opportunity in Scotland to build on the focus on outcomes to integrate better approaches for the long-term. Equal Communities in a Fairer Scotland sets out a shared commitment to doing this. We need to assess whether this is happening in practice.

19. The need to engage communities has been a central tenet of regeneration policy for decades; evidence of positive engagement and knowledge of different methods has grown, but the way the engagement is conducted remains key. Recent evidence presented by the GoWell researchers highlight that while the physical changes in the study areas have resulted in some positive feelings among those surveyed, the loss of social health, in terms of emotional and psychological well-being felt by those surveyed was stark. The researchers point to the need for community networks and cohesion, along with real empowerment and involvement in decision-making that affects local people.

20. More acknowledgement is needed of the role of wider economic factors when planning neighbourhood interventions. Researchers highlight that gaps between policy intentions and outcomes remain due to an insufficient understanding of the function played by a neighbourhood area in the wider housing and employment market and the relationship with surrounding areas.

Current context

21. The economic crisis has meant that many traditional models of regeneration are now fractured. Development activity fuelled by rising land and property prices, funded via debt finance has been shown to be unsustainable. In addition, reduced public sector funding and capital grant means we have to come up with new financial models and different ways of funding development, and the relationship between the public and private sector will need to adapt accordingly.

Statistics on deprived areas of Scotland

22. The following statistics demonstrate that the majority of Scotland's social problems - drugs, crime, antisocial behaviour, poor educational attainment, unemployment, poor health - are considerably more acute in a small number of disadvantaged areas. High correlations are found between living in deprived areas and a range of negative outcomes, but this does not necessarily mean that living in a deprived area leads to these negative outcomes. Although a person's neighbourhood cannot be claimed to determine their life outcomes, nevertheless it does play an important role in shaping opportunities and life-courses. Problems tend to be multiple, as well as more concentrated in particular localities.

23. The Annex to this paper shows how these social problems are geographically concentrated across Scotland.

24. For mainstream policies, programmes and services like justice, health and education, it is clear that an area-based approach may enable more vulnerable groups to be targeted which would have a disproportionately positive impact on the overall levels of the problems.


62% of prisoners previously lived in the 25% most deprived areas of Scotland (prior to being imprisoned). (Prisoner Statistics March 2009)

55% of referrals to the Children's Reporter are for children living in the 25% most deprived areas of Scotland. This includes offence and non-offence referrals. (Scottish Children's Reporter Administration )

32% of adults in the 10% most deprived areas say that drug dealing or misuse is a problem in their neighbourhood. This compares to 12% of adults in Scotland as a whole and only 2% of adults in the 10% least deprived areas. ( SHS 2009)

Economic Activity

The employment rate in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland is 57.5% compared to 76.6% in the other areas of Scotland. (Annual Population Survey 2010)

Income and Employment deprivation

There are around 779,300 people in Scotland who are income deprived. Around 270,600 live in the 15% most deprived areas (equating to around 35% of all income-deprived people living in the 15% most deprived areas). ( SIMD 2009)

There are around 373,000 people in Scotland who are employment deprived. Around 123,000 live in the 15% most deprived areas (equating to around 33% of all employment-deprived people living in the 15% most deprived areas). ( SIMD 2009)


Men born in 2007-09 in the 10 per cent least deprived areas of Scotland can expect to live for 13.4 years more than those in the 10 per cent most deprived areas (81.1 years compared with 67.7 years). ( GROS Life Expectancy in Special Areas, 2007-2009)

In 2001-2004, the rate of hospital admissions related to alcohol misuse per 100,000 population was just over 3 times higher in the most deprived areas than in less deprived areas. ( NHS: Information Services Division ( ISD))


85% of S4 pupils in the most deprived areas obtained SCQF Level 3 or higher in English and Maths (this is a proxy measure for levels of literacy and numeracy in school pupils) compared to 94% in less deprived areas. (Scottish Qualifications Authority 2008)

The exclusion rate in the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland is 91 per 1,000 pupils compared to just 12 per 1,000 pupils in the other areas of Scotland. (Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland) .

Challenges for the future

25. Considering these findings and the current context, there are a number of key challenges for regeneration in the future:

  • Previous development funding models are no longer viable. In an era of constrained budgets, we need to maximise the resource we have and consider new and sustainable ways of funding physical regeneration.
  • We need to do more to ensure that we are tackling the deep-rooted social problems of our most disadvantaged areas. This means having an increased focus on delivering a range of interrelated outcomes with funds and activity directed through local services to bring about improvements in employment, health, education, crime and the environment. We should look to mainstream policies, programmes and services to incorporate a conscious area-based focus on improving the prospects of deprived neighbourhoods within their strategies.
  • We need to understand better the wider economic and spatial factors at play when designing neighbourhood interventions. This is particularly true if we are to address the persistent problem of worklessness in some of our communities.
  • To ensure regeneration is lasting and sustainable, more needs to be done to support the role communities themselves play in regeneration, including how communities are empowered to improve their neighbourhoods at their own hand.

26. These challenges form the basis for discussion in the chapters that follow.


  • Are there other key issues from previous regeneration initiatives we should take into account that are not reflected above?
  • Do you feel the list of challenges is the right one?
  • Are there other regeneration priorities you feel the Government should be addressing?