Area based targeting has been used extensively throughout the UK for more than half a century and has generated advocates for and against for almost as long.
More recent reviewers have suggested this polarisation is unnecessary and there is an increased recognition that whilst most poverty eradication should be through universal macroeconomic and social policies, area-based interventions may constitute a useful adjunct to these broader programmes.
This recognition however, shifts the arguments including how these areas should be defined and the policies assessed. Amongst the calls for more considered theories of agency, better specified objectives and more sophisticated analytic tools, it is evident that one of the most common and overarching themes for most Area Based Initiatives is that area-based targeting can be an effective way of reaching poor people.
This suggests that at a fundamental level most area-based policies can be assessed according to their efficiency and effectiveness of reaching those most in need. This has been one of the guiding principles of the current study.