Minister details aid package for deprived England

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The Independent Online

England's poorest areas will receive a share of a £1.2 billion cash injection of Government aid.

England's poorest areas will receive a share of a £1.2 billion cash injection of Government aid.

Regeneration Minister Hilary Armstrong announced the grant, which will be split among almost 200 areas today.

The Government hopes the cash, from the Single Regeneration Budget, will also attract a further £1.9 billion in private sector investment and £2.5 billion in other grants, including European Union handouts.

The biggest single grant - £80 million - is to go to boost the economy of the former South Yorkshire coalfields area, including Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

Coastal areas share £172 million for improvements, and major cities qualifying for grants include Liverpool, Birmingham and Hull.

Many of the schemes which bid successfully for funding will focus on tackling crime and unemployment.

A £300 million boost for London was announced last week by Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Ms Armstrong said: "This investment will make a visible difference to the lives of people living in deprived areas - making communities safer, improving housing and enhancing skills up and down the country.

"The £1.2 billion of Government investment will help lever in a further £1.9 billion from the private sector and £2.5 billion from other public sector programmes and European funds.

"The SRB is about finding local solutions to local problems. It is a community-led programme and the funding announced today will give local people the tools they need to improve their neighbourhoods."

The money is administered in each region by the local Regional Development Agency.

Head of the group of RDA chairmen Alex Stephenson welcomed the cash, saying: "I welcome this announcement and the prospect of helping to create a better quality of life for people in disadvantaged communities throughout England."

Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent will each get £40 million; Blackpool is to receive £20 million to boost tourism; and Bradford, Durham, Bolton, Burnley, Hull, Oldham, Preston, South Sefton, Wirral and Sandwell also each get £20 million in aid.