£72m cash boost to create thousands of jobs in West
Thousands of highly skilled jobs will be created across the West Country through a multi-million-pound boost from a flagship Government scheme, Nick Clegg will announce today.
The Deputy Prime Minister will unveil the third round of cash from the Regional Growth Fund, which replaced the regional development agencies.
As the Western Daily Press has reported, business leaders in the region have expressed concern over missing out on cash to help them weather the double-dip recession.
But Mr Clegg will today reveal a £72 million cash injection for the South West, intended to create or safeguard 8,640 jobs.
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He said 80 per cent of the employment benefits will happen within five years, and there will also be £148 million of private sector investment, with four-fifths of that within a decade.
The exact total for each bidder will not be released for six months, as schemes still have to go through due diligence, but the winners include GE Aviation Systems of Cheltenham. Its project is to refit laboratory facilities and buy equipment to allow the continuation of research into new technologies to increase aircraft operational and emissions efficiencies.
Another winner is Dyson of Malmesbury, with a scheme to explore new research leads in the two connected areas of power and filtration systems.
Also, Wiltshire Council and Wrenbridge Land Ltd/Trebor Developments will extend Porton Down Science Park for research and development.
And AgustaWestland of Yeovil has two winning bids, to develop a hybrid helicopter and aeroplane, and create a civil helicopter capability. The first scheme will see design and development work carried out on new technologies for the AW609 TiltRotor.
It is hoped it will revolutionise flying by combining the benefits of a helicopter and an aeroplane, and be the world’s first high-speed commercial rotorcraft to enter the market in 2016. The second project will help create a new industry sector in the UK with a civil helicopter facility, including a final assembly line, maintenance and a training academy.
There are also two winning bids from Plymouth, which has done well in previous rounds of RGF handouts, including the only successful South West bid in the first one.
In total the West has had 17 successful bids in the first two rounds, and 13 have started, with £80 million RGF support. Second phase bids from Bath & North East Somerset Council, Herefordshire Council and the University of Bristol gained final approval.
Another winner was DTR-VMS Ltd of Wiltshire, which secured £3.1 million for a research and development project, and has now bought a building and secured planning consent.
The refurbishment should be completed by next summer, with the project expected to safeguard some 200 jobs and create 21 more, including 15 highly skilled posts in research and development.
Mr Clegg will announce a total of £1 billion funding for 130 projects across the whole of England, securing at the same time £6 billion of private sector capital. He says more than 240,000 jobs will be created or safeguarded, on top of 300,000 from the first two rounds.
“This £1 billion boost for growth in towns and cities across England is creating jobs that will last in the parts of the country that need it most,” he will say. “In tough economic times the RGF is good value for taxpayers’ money – this £1 billion round of the fund is pulling in £6 billion of private sector investment.
“The RGF is working, on track and supporting businesses to create jobs and grow the economy.”
Parliament’s spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee criticised the RGF earlier this year for taking too long to hand out the cash.
Its enquiry found that two years into the programme, just £60 million of £1.4 billion allocated nationally had reached schemes.