Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said the Government scheme is set to invest in projects “in the parts of the country that need it most.”
Business leaders have welcomed the money which the Government has suggested could safeguard or create 240,000 jobs. However they have urged the Government to ensure the money flows into the projects quickly.
Speaking on the scheme, Nick Clegg said:
“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.
“The Regional Growth Fund is working, on track and supporting businesses to create jobs and grow the economy.”
The issue of how quickly the money reaches the projects is one that is clearly concerning though, with various individuals expressing their opinions.
Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth said:
“We are pleased that the £1bn promised for the third round of the Regional Growth Fund has been allocated to projects that will spur business investment and job creation in the regions.
“However, pace is critical. Many RGF projects have been delayed by bureaucratic hurdles, meaning that they have not yet started to have an impact on the ground. Some bidders have even withdrawn; meaning that over £100m has been recycled back into the fund.”
Director of Policy at manufacturers’ organisation EEF, Steve Radley, commented:
“The delays experienced in previous rounds must be avoided and funding must flow out to business much faster, whilst the longer-term future of the fund must also be clarified.”
It has been revealed that £697m of the £1.05bn pot (which includes £55m recycled from rounds one and two) will go to private firms and a further £358m will be handed out to 29 local authorities and enterprise partnerships.