High-profile regeneration projects with budgets totalling £140 million are failing to deliver any significant academic improvement by young people in Birmingham's poorest inner city areas.
An inquiry into Aston Pride, Kings Norton and SRB6 North-west Birmingham schemes found the most at-risk groups, particularly Afro-Caribbean boys, continued to perform badly at school.
Only one out of 40 Afro-Caribbean boys in Aston managed to obtain an A level or equivalent vocational qualification over a two-year period, while only one white boy out of 59 in the SRB6 area hit the same target.
The average figure for the whole of Birmingham shows that 26 per cent of all 19-year-olds have one A-level or equivalent. In Aston, the figure is 17 per cent and in Kings Norton 13 per cent.
The statistics were described as "stark figures" by Councillor Jon Hunt, who chaired the scrutiny inquiry.
Coun Hunt (Lib Dem Perry Barr) added: "We have failed and not made a difference."
He said there was a lack of willingness by those running the schemes to target underachievers and minority groups. The regeneration boards often behaved like "glorified parish councils" spending most of their money on easily deliverable environmental improvement schemes rather than tackling difficult issues, Coun Hunt added.
The cross-party inquiry found that although there had been some improvement at Key Stage 2 by children in all three regeneration zones, the figures were not significantly above the city average. There were "significant and alarming" exceptions, particularly no increase at all in the number of white boys obtaining five GCSEs.
Coun Hunt added: "There is some good work going on but we remain dissatisfied about the extent to which these projects are really targeting those who are most disadvantaged and those whose lives need to be changed and be given the
opportunities that other people have around the city.
"There is no targeting of young people who may be struggling. There is no attempt to deal with the issues of young people who are not obtaining the skills they need to be able to communicate.
"What we are not seeing is life-changing work, particularly with the people who are most at risk."
The report was particularly critical of the BETA First project, which provides training in Handsworth and
Lozells for young people who have dropped out of school and is partly funded by SRB6. Almost £750,000 was handed to the organisation between 2000 and 2005 even though the council was aware of BETA's "serious management problems".
A three-year lag in sorting out the problems was described as an "utter tragedy" by Coun Hunt, who said the indecision contributed to a failure to target support for Afro-Caribbean boys.
The scrutiny report found "significant and widespread dissatisfaction" with the outcomes of the projects among community groups in inner city areas.
The report went on: "All of the organisations we spoke to felt that regeneration funding was difficult to access. The rules were unclear, inflexible and bureaucratic. A widespread concern is that money is spent in the areas and people cannot see what has changed as a result."
Funding streams for the three regeneration zones will soon be brought together into one pot under a Local Area Agreement between the city council and the Government.
The scrutiny report concluded: "We believe that this offers a real opportunity at last for regeneration activities across the city to be better co-ordinated and overseen by the major agencies. It is essential the training and education agenda is given due priority and we recommend an early report is produced which states how this matter will be addressed."