£950 million Growth Fund boost
Companies including Sheffield's Forgemasters are to receive Government support totalling £950 million which should create or safeguard more than 200,000 jobs, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.
Mr Clegg, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, denied that Forgemasters' inclusion in the second round of the Regional Growth Fund was an attempt to repair the political damage he sustained last year when ministers pulled the plug on an £80 million loan promised by the previous Labour administration.
The 119 bids selected for support will "jump start growth and create jobs that last in the places that really need it", leveraging in up to £6 billion in private sector investment, said Mr Clegg.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband described the funding as "too little, too late", pointing out that the Fund's £1.4 billion budget over three years was one third of the money available through Regional Development Agencies, scrapped by the coalition.
The new money came as ministers were withdrawing allowances for companies to invest in plant and machinery, said Mr Miliband.
"I don't think the Government have come to grips with the scale of the problem afflicting our economy and what needs to change," he said.
Mr Clegg said the funding will directly create around 37,000 jobs, while 164,000 more will be created or protected in the supply chain.
"This targeted support for businesses across the country allows them to expand and create jobs," he said.
"It unlocks private sector investment - with at least £5 put in for every £1 of public money."
For too long, successive governments had been "in thrall" to the financial sector in the City of London, said Mr Clegg. RGF money would help "rebalance our economy so that every region and sector benefits".