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£160M TO HELP BOOST REGIONAL ECONOMIES

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Local partnerships will be able to bid for a share of£160m in European funds through the new Regional Challenge co...
Local partnerships will be able to bid for a share of £160m in European funds through the new Regional Challenge competition, Board of Trade president Michael Heseltine has confirmed.

Money will be awarded to projects which draw in private sector cash, contribute to the overall economic health of the region, and provide wide-ranging regeneration, new infrastructure and jobs.

Mr Heseltine said: 'The first round of Regional Challenge competitions will be held later this year after the European Commission adopts the 'Single Programming Documents' which govern Structural Funds money. A second round will follow three years later'.

Mr Heseltine added:' In agreement with the Commission, prize money for Regional Challenge will amount to 10% of the European Regional Development Fund for each eligible area plus 10% of that sum from the area's European Social Fund allocation.

' The arrangements for the operation of Regional Challenge will be set out in guidelines which the government will draw up in the light of consultations with local partnerships.

' Bids will need to satisfy the general criteria for Structural Fund assistance, and will be assessed against a number of additional criteria, to be finalised in the light of the consultations.

' They are likely to include: private sector leverage; comprehensive area-based regeneration effects; a significant contribution to regional competitiveness; strategic importance for the region as a whole; and contribution to several of the measures specified in the Single Programming Document', the minister added.

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