§ Q7. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab)
If he will make a statement on the impact of cross-departmental working on the Government since 1997.
§ The Prime Minister
All Departments work closely together to ensure the co-ordination of policy. Cross-departmental working and its impact is most noticeable in areas such as crime and asylum and in relation to public health, where we need to bring a whole series of Departments together to work in a constructive and cooperative way.
§ Mr. Allen
The Prime Minister will know that Nottingham, North, especially its outer estates, is one of the poorest UK constituencies, but excellent cross-departmental working has helped to tackle some of the problems—the new deal, Sure Start and the building schools for the future programme. However, there are now 36 funding streams coming into Nottingham, North and 20 organisations involved in regeneration. Will the Prime Minister take a personal interest in trying to cut through and clarify the plethora of bodies and initials, which confuse local people, so that regeneration can be done not to, but with, the people who are its subject?
§ The Prime Minister
The point my hon. Friend raises is correct. Indeed, I am already taking an interest in, and have held several meetings on, the subject. Most people recognise that the money going into communities through the new deal, Sure Start and elsewhere is making a real difference to some of the poorest communities in our country, but it is true that there is a plethora of funding streams, which causes unnecessary difficulty and bureaucracy. The new local area agreements, which merge various funding streams locally to support the delivery of agreed outcomes, will be taken forward. I hope that in that area, too, we can learn from experience to ensure that people are accountable for the money we spend while also ensuring that they get it more effectively and quickly than they do at the moment. I would say one final thing to my hon. Friend: the other day, when I was in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Sir Stuart Bell), I saw the work that inner-city regeneration is doing with not just the support of local people but their active involvement, and that is a programme of which we can be very proud.