Economy 'starting to bloom' - Clegg
Britain's economy is "starting to bloom", Nick Clegg said as he announced £300 million to help boost growth across the country.
The latest round of state funding to support business expansion is being targeted at bidders looking for more than £1 million for projects that will create significant numbers of new jobs.
Since the Regional Growth Fund - aimed mainly at bolstering the private sector in struggling English areas - was launched two years ago, around £2.6 billion has been awarded, which will stimulate £14.7 billion of private sector investment according to the government.
Announcing the latest funding during a visit to Newcastle, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "This fund has so far helped over 400 projects and over 3,000 SMEs across the country to boost our economy - expanding, improving, innovating and helping secure our economic recovery.
"The economic recovery is starting to bloom - we're seeing very encouraging signs that we are turning a crucial corner on our road to recovery.
"Home-grown and British-based businesses are leading that charge for a stronger economy.
"The Regional Growth Fund is a helping hand from the Government, but I pay tribute to the people who are working hard to fuel our recovery.
"My message to businesses in every region is clear - if you've got a project that needs a boost, bid for cash from the Regional Growth Fund."
The next round of funding is expected to be launched next summer.
Business minister Michael Fallon said: "Round five requires minimum bids of £1 million but smaller bids are also supported by the fund through programmes.
"That is why I am making sure that local and national programmes are available to small to medium-sized businesses from as little as £5,000 in some areas all the way up to £1 million.
"Since the Fund started, over 3,000 grants have been given to SMEs through programmes.
"We expect there will be stiff competition, so companies should take time over their application and demonstrate the benefits that support will bring.
"We want more businesses to benefit so that they can achieve their ambitions."