Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Regional growth fund bids invited

Nick Clegg is to invite bids for a share of a fund amid plans to stimulate areas hit by public spending cuts

Nick Clegg is to invite bids for a share of a new £1.4 billion regional growth fund as ministers set out plans to stimulate areas hit by public spending cuts.

The fund is designed to help promote investment in the absence of regional development agencies (RDAs), which are being abolished by the Government.

It is intended to support areas that are heavily reliant on the public sector and will bear the brunt of public sector job losses.

Some 610,000 public sector posts are expected to be axed by 2016 under Chancellor George Osborne's £81 billion spending cuts.

The Deputy Prime Minister will declare the regional growth fund "open for business" on a visit to the North West.

He will be joined by Lord Heseltine, the former Conservative deputy prime minister in John Major's government, who is to oversee bids as chairman of an advisory panel.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they would use the cash - available only in England - to attract private sector investment and create long-term job growth.

The first 20 local enterprise partnerships between business groups and councils are also to be announced after having their submissions approved by ministers. More are in the pipeline from among 62 initial applications.

The partnerships are also designed to help manage private sector growth after the scrapping of RDAs.

Business Secretary Vince Cable will later present to Parliament a White Paper on Local Growth which will further detail what is to happen to the assets and liabilities of RDAs.

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