Closing the gap - a regeneration strategy for Scotland?

Keith Hayton

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    Abstract

    There is a lengthy list of Scottish regeneration initiatives going back many years. Despite this, progress in bringing about lasting change often seems to have been limited. Indeed one of the more depressing things is how closely the distribution of deprived communities in 2002 matches that from the 1930s, something that Pacione comments upon in connection with Glasgow (Pacione, 1995). A cynic might be tempted to say that the main achievement of public policy since the 1930s has been not to solve the problems of deprivation, but to create new deprived areas through the social housing programmes of the 1950s and 1960s.
    Whilst there are many reasons for this limited success it may be that, as Edwards says, "somewhere along the way, the purpose of inner-city policies - to improve the quality of life and the life chances of people who live in the worst urban areas - has been lost sight of," (Edwards, 1995, p.697). Running various programmes and ensuring that budgets were spent by the end of the financial year all too often seems to have become the goal of policy. The means have become synonymous with the ends. However, if the aspirations of the Scottish Executive are now to be met this may change. In June 2002 the Executive published its Community Regeneration Statement, "Better Communities in Scotland: closing the gap" (Scottish Executive, 2002). This aims "to close the gap between our poorest communities and the rest of the country", (ibid, p.
    1) and "turn round disadvantaged communities and create a better life for those who live in them", (ibid, p. 3). These ambitious and, as is argued below, ambiguous goals are to be attained through action in two areas. First, measures are to be taken to ensure that public services "have as much effect as possible on disadvantaged areas" (ibid, p.7). This means that, increasingly, mainstream services are to be used to tackle the problems faced by disadvantaged communities, rather than, as has tended to happen in the past, relying upon time-limited, spatially-targeted initiatives with dedicated budgets. Secondly measures are to be introduced to build social capital ("the skills, confidence, support networks and resources" (ibid, p. 7)) so that available opportunities can be taken, and created, by individuals and communities. A variety of managerial tools are to be used to attain these goals, the key one being community planning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-37
    Number of pages6
    JournalQuarterly Economic Commentary
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002

    Keywords

    • Scotland
    • community planning
    • urban regeneration
    • Scottish economic development

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