Clegg announces Regional Growth Fund cash winners
By Richard Johnstone | 19 October 2012
Nearly a quarter of a million jobs will be supported by £1bn of funds from the government’s Regional Growth Fund, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.
Clegg revealed today that 130 companies across England have qualified for the grants in the third round of the scheme, which is intended to boost economic growth in areas with a high dependency on public sector jobs.
Clegg said the firms supported would be investing £6bn of their own cash into projects to expand, which are expected to create and safeguard more than 240,000 jobs.
Awards in the first two rounds of awards in the programme, totalling £1.4bn, had been criticised after the National Audit Office said more jobs could have been created if the money had been better allocated.
However, Clegg said today’s awards would help manufacturing firms, small businesses and local partnerships across England to expand their operations, create new jobs and stimulate growth.
He added: ‘In tough economic times the Regional Growth Fund is good value for taxpayers’ money – this £1bn round of the fund is pulling in £6bn of private sector investment.
‘I have seen for myself the real difference this makes on the ground – from iconic businesses like Eddie Stobart expanding in Widnes and creating 3,450 jobs in the local area, to the Sunderland car parts factory, Unipres who have used their funding to buy a new 3,000 tonne press, letting them accelerate production and take on an extra 316 people.’
Local Enterprise Partnerships led 27 of the programmes awarded funds, and have been given £344m to then distribute to local firms as loans or grants.
Local growth minister Mark Prisk said the funding would help local enterprise partnerships ‘build on their successes and plan for the future’.
He added: ‘This funding will ensure they remain locally-led, and focused on helping to boost businesses in their area without the need for long-term central government support.’
The government has also provided an update on previous rounds of the Regional Growth Fund, revealing six out of ten projects have so far started following these awards.
This comes after the Public Accounts Committee said last month that it was ‘nothing short of scandalous’ that only £60m of the money awarded in the initial round had so far reached job-creating projects.