Nick Clegg

�1bn funding boost to grow UK businesses

An extra £1 billion is now available for UK businesses seeking support to create new jobs and grow.

The money, announced by Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg at the National Manufacturing Summit today, will be available to businesses and public/private partnerships with ambitions to create new jobs and make a significant impact on their local economy.

The funding is part of the Regional Growth Fund, which now totals £2.4 billion.

Clegg said there had been over 170 successful bids to the fund, leveraging around £7.5 billion of private sector investment and set to create and protect 330,000 jobs.

"I want to see more businesses that are confident they can create jobs and get Britain building and making things again, coming forward, making sure their hats are in the ring.

"Funding from rounds one and two has gone to some extraordinarily promising manufacturing projects. From Pirelli Tyres in Carlisle who'll use the money to develop a new range of carbon-cutting tyres; to a Portsmouth based company which hopes to use theirs to create a cutting edge boat building college.

"These are the kinds of projects that will lead their communities into brighter times, helping put industry at the heart of the UK's economy. Businesses have until June to apply for a share of this extra £1 billion," Clegg said.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, who opened GKN Aerospace's new £150 million manufacturing centre in Bristol today, added: "The Regional Growth Fund is starting to make excellent progress. The additional £1 billion in the fund will help us maintain momentum around supporting even more businesses and encouraging the creation of new jobs.

"Many of the successful projects from rounds one and two were manufacturers and the sector remains one of our national success stories. Manufacturing lies right at the heart of the Government's strategy for economic recovery and growth."

Gordon Marsden, shadow minister for further education, skills & regional growth, said: "The Regional Growth Fund remains mired in continuing chaos and incompetence, with over 40 per cent of winning first round bidders still waiting for their cash more than 10 months after their winning bids were first confirmed, while only one successful bidder from its second round has so far received any funding. Across the country, the fund has created far more losers than winners.

"Before boasting about new rounds of the Growth Fund, the Government needs to get a grip and sort out the delays which have plagued this progress.

"Firms up and down the country need real help now, so ministers must act to get the Regional Growth Fund money out of the door to the hard pressed businesses who have been waiting months while the Business Department has been sleeping at the wheel."

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "We welcome the extra £1 billion that the Government is making available to help improve the business environment in the English regions.

"We know that business is good for local communities because it creates jobs and prosperity. Allocations from the fund will help improve local conditions and clear the way for more private investment to follow.

"We are encouraged that ministers have committed to addressing some of the criticism that arose during previous bidding rounds, such as the complexity of the application process itself. We will watch carefully to ensure that strong applications do not get caught up in red tape or unnecessary delays."

A drive to create new businesses, with hundreds of new jobs, through money from the European Regional Development Fund and a number of other organisations was also announced today.

A £6.6 million plan to boost the economy across Merseyside aims to encourage people to set up their own business, targeting the most deprived areas of the region.

Liverpool-based Social Enterprise North West said the aim was to create over 900 new businesses.

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