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2 December 2020
An important aspect of the policy towards disadvantaged
urban disticts
For 40 years, the policy towards disadvantaged urban districts has set out to close
the gaps between “targeted poor neighbourhoods” and others, by improving the
living environment for their residents. The central government is putting forward
€10 billion a year towards this aim, which is being combined with urban
regeneration funding and an unclear amount of investment from local public
Drawing on a nationwide study and an in-depth investigation on the situation
in eight targeted poor neighbourhoods, the Cour des Comptes and four Regional
Chambers of Accounts have evaluated one of the key objectives of this public
policy, the attractiveness of targeted distincts, focusing on three aspects of daily
life: housing, education and economic activity.
Despite the financial and human resources deployed, little progress has been made
to improve their attractiveness over the last ten years. In response to this, the Cour
Little progress has been made to improve the attractiveness of
targeted poor neighbourhoods over the last ten years
The policy in favour of disadvantaged urban districts partially considers the range of
factors that can make a neighbourhood more attractive, either for current residents or for
new residents. In many cases, the legal objective of closing the gaps between targeted
poor neighbourhoods and other neighbourhoods is being overshadowed by a more
modest objective of improving living environments for their residents.
Regarding housing, over the last ten years, despite the improvements of buildings and
urban planning, the neighbourhoods covered by the National Urban Renovation Plan
(PNRU), worth an estimated €46 billion, are still not seen as highly attractive, as their
image has suffered long-term damage due to security problems. The social housing
allocation policy did not help to achieve the social diversity objective and is struggling to
reverse the trend of problems concentrated in these neighbourhoods.
In terms of education, while perceptions of schools are changing along with perceptions
of their neighbourhoods, pupils there, who are generally on priority education schemes,
achieve lower school results than the average for the local educational authority, despite
the improvements over the past ten years.
Finally, regarding economic activity, targeted poor disticts have experienced economic
and commercial declines during the last decade. Neighbourhood services, which are not
highly multi-faceted and are often located on the ground floor of buildings, are tending to
move out to the suburbs.
These disappointing results highlight the fact that, along with urban regeneration, which
is needed but is not enough on its own, the general resources regarding security,
cleanliness, early childhood assistance and transport deployed by the central government
and public authorities do not sufficiently address the specific or wider needs of the
neighbourhoods and their residents.
A more appropriate and more effective action framework must be put
The Cour des Comptes recommends to conduct substantial reforms to the policy towards
disadvantaged urban districts in order to provide a more appropriate and effective
framework, and in particular:
Make this policy more decentralised, by allowing greater differentiation around
“neighbourhood projects”, with their own dedicated priorities, objectives and
monitoring indicators. The most suitable signatory public authority should be tasked
with rolling them out and evaluating them.
Specify the direction and scope of social and functional diversity objectives in districts,
by incorporating them into a multi-year strategy focusing on social housing stock,
allocating housing and assigning business premises. This strategy should be clearly
outlined in neighbourhood projects and urban contracts, and be applied to social
landlords, housing associations and central government services;
Improve coordination of urban regeneration and social, educational and economic
support for residents as part of neighbourhood projects.
Support, for young residents
in particular, must be a priority for everyone involved in the policy in favour of
disadvantaged urban districts ;
Reinforce the coordination of initiatives funding using the policy towards
disadvantaged disticts funding and general public allocations, in order to address
more efficiently the specific needs of residents in targeted districts. For this purpose,
the Cour des Comptes recommends improving the tools for analysing these
requirements, ensuring that general schemes are properly calibrated and ensuring
proper coordination with the policy in favour of disadvantaged urban districts
Read the report
Ted Marx
Communications Director
+ 33 (0)1 42 98 55 62
Etienne Chantoin
Press relations
+33 (0)1 42 98 59 45
Cour des comptes
Cour des comptes