Communities have had 'limited impact' on decision making

Government attempts to help voluntary groups influence decision-making in deprived areas have had a limited impact, a National Audit Office report has said.

The report examines the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's single Community Programme, a £182m scheme which funds community involvement in regeneration projects in England's 88 most deprived local authorities.

It concludes that there are tensions between community and public sector members of Local Strategic Partnerships, caused partly because many community empowerment networks were not established in time to influence neighbourhood strategies. But those tensions are now dissipating.

Audit Office head Sir John Bourn said: "It is encouraging that community and voluntary groups, through Community Empowerment Networks, are beginning to influence their Local Strategic Partnerships. My report identifies ways to improve the effectiveness of the programme."

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