John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, this week unveiled proposals to spend £155m on improving the quality of life on the Tyne and the Mersey.
The money is to go on building and refurbishing housing, schools, shopping areas and leisure centres. Liverpool is to get the larger part of the money – £86m over two years. Newcastle and Gateshead are to receive £69m.

A further £89m is to be shared among 27 councils. This is intended to create urban parks.

The money is being distributed as part of the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder, which is itself part of the £22bn communities plan.

The overall objectives of the programme are to help the economies of depressed areas by improving the housing market.

The £22bn plan will create sustainable communities, north and south

John Prescott

Prescott said: "The government's £22bn communities plan is design to create sustainable and prosperous communities, north and south."

Jeff Rooker, the minister for regeneration and regional development, added that the government would consider setting up statutory bodies to develop the pathfinder areas.

He said that local authorities in some of the areas had suggested the setting up of urban development corporations to fast-track planning procedures. These would mirror the UDCs set up to run the Thames Gateway development.