Neighbourhood Renewal Unit forms comms team

The newly-created Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU), which is to

spend £3bn on alleviating poverty in Britain's most deprived

areas, is putting in place its first communications team.

Consultant Paul Richards has been named as interim head of

communications, the NRU's first PR head since it was formed in


He will remain in place while headhunters at PricewaterhouseCoopers look

to fill the post on a permanent basis.

Richards is tasked with putting together a full communications strategy

and aims to develop public affairs functions and ensure coverage for the

body in regional, national and ethnic media.

He said: 'This body has an enormous task in alleviating poverty. It is

vital that local authorities, strategic partnerships and regeneration

groups as well as the public are aware of the work that is going


The Government estimates that 80 per cent of ethnic minorities live in

areas classed by the Government as socially deprived. Richards said the

ethnic media is of special significance in promoting the NRU's work.

He heads an initial team of four, reporting to the unit's

director-general Joe Montgomery and handling a £1m communications


The unit was formed following a review by the Government's social

exclusion unit, which was created in 1997 to find ways to tackle


Eighty-eight neighbourhoods have been highlighted for funding in the

first phase.

The NRU handles a raft of funding schemes, including the New Deal for

Communities initiative.

This includes £50m to be spent in the Marshfields, West Bowling

and Park Lane areas of Bradford, near to the scenes of rioting last

month (PRWeek, 3 August).

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