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Budget prioritises future jobs and support for nation’s SMEs

25/03/2010

England’s Regional Development Agencies have welcomed this week's Budget commitment to strengthen regional capability and the launch of UK Finance for Growth to support the nation’s Small and Medium sized businesses (SME’s).

UK Finance for Growth, which will include a Growth Capital Fund, will be responsible for streamlining and simplifying government’s finance support for SME’s and will help them to attract private sector investment.

This announcement strengthens the access to finance offer to SME’s and joins a commitment from high street banks RBS and Lloyds to provide £94bn of small business loans.

The Chancellor outlined a package of support to help businesses in their day-to-day operations, particularly in what is still a difficult economic climate. This included commitments to: an extension to the Time to Pay scheme; a temporary increase in the rate of small business rate relief to benefit over half a million eligible small businesses in England; and an increase in the threshold of the Annual Investment Allowance from £50,000 to £100,000.

The RDA’s welcomed the extension of the Young Persons Guarantee scheme, in helping 16-17 year olds into training or apprenticeships and both 18-24 year olds and the long-term unemployed back into the work force, until March 2012. This is intended to help rebuild the economy through the creation of sustainable employment and includes an increase in apprenticeships.

The Budget re-affirmed Government’s commitment to supporting the industries that will drive future growth including: advanced manufacturing, clean energy, pharmaceuticals, and the digital and creative industries. Universities will receive funding to improve links with UK businesses and provide 20,000 undergraduate places on courses that support these growth sectors.

This Budget also announces the Government’s intention to create a Green Investment Bank, supported by up to £1 billion, to boost investment in major low-carbon infrastructure projects. Included in this is a £60 million fund for the development of port sites to support the offshore wind turbine manufacturers looking to locate new facilities in the UK and secure low carbon manufacturing jobs. 

In response to a widespread call for action, the Government announced £120 million for Accelerated Development Zones in selected local authority areas to help to deliver key infrastructure and commercial development and unlock growth.

Terry Hodgkinson, Chair of Yorkshire Forward, the lead RDA on treasury matters,  said:“Driving up levels of enterprise, skills and innovation is vital to maximising the UK's opportunities for growth and we welcome Government’s support for businesses to do this, particularly in what is still a difficult climate.
 
“It is encouraging also to see continued support for the growth industries of advanced manufacturing, clean energy, pharmaceuticals, and the digital and creative industries, which we have long championed and invested in – they are key to achieving sustainable economic growth in all UK regions.

“We also welcome the announcement for Accelerated Development Zones which will help stimulate new appropriate development in selected areas.”

In addition to this, the speech outlined plans aimed at saving billions of pounds a year in public sector costs to support the reduction in the UK’s deficit by half over the next four years. The Chancellor has re-affirmed that there will be a reduction in the number of Whitehall departments and a commitment to move a third of civil servants to outside of London over the next 10 years.

Speaking on behalf of all RDAs, Mick Laverty, Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “We welcome the announcements in the Budget that help us to continue our work with businesses, driving forward the development of high growth sectors that are so vital to regional and national economic recovery.

“We will continue to play our part by working ever more effectively and build on our already impressive record of delivering more than £4.50 for every £1 we invest.”

More information

For all media enquiries or to request an interview, please contact: Phil Brown, Advantage West Midlands Communications Executive on 0121 503 3402; 07525 703 179; philbrown@advantagewm.co.uk

About the RDAs

  • The RDAs are business led organisations set up by Government in 1999 to promote sustainable economic development in England. They work with key public and private sector regional partners to increase the economic performance of the regions and reduce social and economic disparities within and between regions.
  • The RDAs take it in turns to manage the collective work of the RDA network for a six-month period. From October 1st 2009, Advantage West Midlands took over as Chair of Chairs for the RDA national network. This means that Advantage West Midlands represents the network to Government and other stakeholders on a wide range of issues. The role of Chair of Chairs rotates around the RDA network each six months and Advantage West Midlands’ tenure ends on the March 31st 2010.
  • For more information on England’s Regional Development Agencies please go to www.englandsrdas.com