Belfast Telegraph

Loans boost for young entrepreneurs

Start-Up loans are to be made available to boost young entrepreneurs establishing businesses in Northern Ireland, the Deputy Prime Minister has revealed.

Payments could be made within weeks to help rebalance the region's economy in favour of the private sector. Thousands of young people in England have already benefited from the scheme.

Nick Clegg is in Londonderry for a British Irish Council (BIC) summit with leaders of the devolved administrations and Irish Government. It follows the G8 conference in Fermanagh of world leaders including US president Barack Obama, which was hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Clegg said: "Start-Up loans have proven to be a great success in England and we want young people in Northern Ireland to also be able to use the scheme to turn their enterprising ideas into live businesses. Nothing better exemplifies how the United Kingdom can use the best resource at our disposal - our people."

Since it started last autumn the English scheme has committed more than £26 million in loans and £4 million in support to help over 5,000 people aged 18-30 set up businesses, almost half of whom were previously unemployed.

Business Secretary Vince Cable is working with the Start-Up Loans Company to extend the funding to Northern Ireland and an announcement is expected within weeks.

The Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg was attending the 20th summit of the council in Derry. It was created under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended the violence in Northern Ireland.

This is the second time the meeting, chaired by Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, has been held in Northern Ireland. The last was July 2007.

The gathering was being attended by leaders and ministers from the eight member administrations: the UK and Irish governments and the devolved governments of Scotland Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

It will focus on the economy, including the impact of energy costs, Londonderry's City of Culture experience and proposals for work on the creative industries.

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