For decades regeneration programmes in England targeted areas where spatial concentrations of poverty exist. These ‘area-based initiatives’ (ABIs) came under sustained attack, however, from the previous coalition government for being expensive and ineffective. This paper assesses this claim by re-evaluating past evidence on the impact of regeneration on poverty. It finds regeneration did relatively little to transform households’ material circumstances but significantly ameliorated negative experiences of living in poverty in relation to housing, community safety and the physical environment. This partially undermines the rationale for the policy shift away from neighbourhood renewal interventions toward the current focus on ‘local growth’ as the sole remedy for spatial inequalities. It also suggests a need for more nuance in wider critical accounts of regeneration as a deepening form of neoliberalism.