The Political Quarterly 88(3) , pp.452-464, 2017
Published 24 July 2017
Riots, social exclusion, and endless improvement programmes have been a feature of the poorest neighbourhoods in France and England for the last thirty-five years or more—particularly focused on large social housing estates. Programmes of improvement have followed similar paths in each country, with mixed success. This article sets out a short overview of these programmes in each country, then contrasts and compares the objectives, approaches, and outcomes. Each country has key elements of inter agency working, local and resident participation and planning, large-scale building rehabilitation and demolition programmes, though the French system is more often based on specific local contracts between cities and the central departments. Similar evaluation outcome indicators and frameworks of 'floor' and 'gap' targets have been set, although evidence of success is limited and, particularly in France, there has been considerable criticism of the approach and framework. In parallel, however, the concept of 'mixed communities' has emerged as an alternative strategic approach—intuitively reasonable, politically popular, but lacking an evidence base and often ineffective in dealing with poverty.