A £40 million Government-financed regeneration scheme has delivered only "modest" improvement for communities in the most socially deprived parts of North-west Birmingham, an independent study has concluded.
The eight-year Single Regeneration Budget programme, which was supposed to trigger long term and sustainable regeneration in Soho, Winson Green and Handsworth, failed to fundamentally transform the area although it did halt social and economic decline, according to a city council report.
While it met most of its core targets and spent nearly all of the available money, the scheme lacked a clear, coherent, long term strategy and attempted "to do too many things", the report found.
The SRB project, which will end in April, managed to create 430 jobs in an area with a population of 52,000.
A further 640 jobs were safeguarded.
It also levered in £70 million in cash or benefits in kind from public agencies and the private sector.
Almost 100 new businesses were created, 1,600 people trained and 100 schemes to improve, expand or create community facilities were undertaken.
The SRB board, which is chaired by Birmingham businessman Sarinder Singh Sahota and includes representatives from the local community, also approved a new skills academy and refurbished Handsworth Park.
When the board was set up in 2000, it adopted a vision statement pledging to turn North-west Birmingham into a "successful, dynamic, multi-cultural urban area" in a high quality environment.
But the study, by SQW Consulting, found it was unrealistic to think that after eight years the SRB6 programme would have solved all of the problems faced by the area with an investment of £40 million.
Dr Sahota, who said he broadly agreed with the report's findings, added: "We are working in one of the most deprived areas in the country. It was always going to be difficult to make a huge difference with such a small amount of funding.
"We got the board working together and tried to put in place some things that would be of long term benefit to the community, like the skills academy. I hope the work we began will be continued by other agencies."
The study stated: "The SRB6 area is clearly in a better position than it was in 2000. Although the area has not seen a fundamental transformation, its decline has been halted and it has seen a modest step up.
"The programme has made a difference. However, it is our view that despite making progress, a significant regeneration challenge remains for North-west Birmingham.
"Worklessness remains, the area's economic role in the wider city is yet to be settled, the housing mix remains problematic, and crime and cohesion remain
live issues, although less so than before."
The North-west Birmingham scheme got off to a bad start, with lengthy delays to project approval in 2001/02.
Concerns about performance and internal structures culminated in Advantage West Midlands withholding £5.7 million of funding in January 2002.
The SRB's achievements are said to include: n injecting greater impetus and confidence into the local economy through reinvigorating local centres, stronger start-up rates, new and improved floorspace and new jobs created or safeguarded; n strengthened confidence in the area and an improved image for residents and inward investors; n strengthened community provision and a more vibrant community life.
There was lavish praise for the SRB's Beyond Midnight project.
The plan comprised a £300,000 scheme to combat gang-related activity in the area, which was described as the best example of its kind by the consultants.