The attempt to tackle poverty and deprivation, and to arrest the decline of cities, has always been part of the agenda of the British government over the past few decades. Despite all the policy initiatives, however, the level of poverty and deprivation remains stubbornly high in many urban areas. The recent resurgence of some cities, for example, Manchester in northern England, does not hide the fact that it has one of the highest proportions of poor families of any city in England. It must have been frustrating, both on the part of central policy makers and local citizens, that the problems remain even after a succession of policy initiatives and the substantial additional resources associated with them. Some urban areas have been through almost all the urban initiatives that have been introduced by successive governments; and yet, these areas are still dogged by familiar problems such as poor economic performance, high unemployment, low educational attainment, poor health, high levels of crime and general physical and social decline. The frustration is best summed up by the comments of a charity organisation, which stated that ‘if the residents of some local authorities had distributed to them, on a household basis, all the government and European charitable funds currently being invested in their borough on special projects, they would have enough money themselves to put their problems straight’ (quoted in Ho, 1999).