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MANDELSON ANNOUNCES NEW APPROACH TO INDUSTRIAL POLICY IN THE ENGLISH REGIONS

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Measures to enhance business support in the English regions are set out in the White Paper published today, 'Our Co...
Measures to enhance business support in the English regions are set out in the White Paper published today, 'Our Competitive Future: Building the Knowledge Driven Economy'.

In future, Regional Selective Assistance will focus support more on high-quality, knowledge-based projects which provide skilled jobs, Peter Mandelson Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced today. This new emphasis will apply equally to inward investment and domestic projects, he added.

Other measures in the White Paper include:-

extra funds for Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England to dadress their regional competitiveness priorities;

RDAs to review the quality and effectiveness of business support in their regions;

the development of new measures to support the growth of smaller businesses in selected areas with particular needs;

from 1 January 1999, recipients of Regional Selective Assistance for internationally mobile projects will be given the option of grants denominated in Euro.

Mr Mandelson said:

'We need a new approach to regional industrial policy, focused firmly on the future. This is what I am setting out in my White Paper today. I want to see newly vibrant regional economies driven by growing, enterprising firms.

'The Government is looking to the new Regional Development Agencies to provide the dynamic regional leadership to deliver this vision. I look forward to working with the Agencies in this exciting task.'

Notes

1. 'Our Competitive Future: Building the Knowledge Driven Economy' published by and available from The Stationery Office Limited. ISBN 0-10-141762-4. Price£8.95. A business summary is available in Welsh, German and French on the Internet at www.dti.gov.uk/comp/competitive.

2. Regional Selective Assistance offers financial assistance to companies investing in the Assisted Areas and creating or safeguarding jobs. The scheme is selective and supports a wide range of investments in both manufacturing and service sectors.

3. Earlier this week the Government announced the appointment of the boards of the new RDAs. They will drive forward a new co-ordinated regional approach to economic renewal. They will develop a clear strategy to increase the strength and performance of local business in their region, enabling them to drive forward a more co-ordinated approach to economic renewal, helping to raise productivity and create new jobs.

4. Business-led RDAs will be the lead bodies at the regional level for co-ordinating inward investment, raising people's skills, improving the competitiveness of business, and regeneration. They will develop and promote a strategy for improving regional economic performance and enhancing their region's competitiveness. Within the English regions, RDAs will have an important role to play in taking forward many of the priorities identified in the White Paper: raising regional skills, encouraging links between business and higher and further education, working with Business Links to develop regional entres of expertise, encouraging business collaboration and facilitating the development of clusters.

5. The Government is developing a new regional industrial policy, which will help the economic development of regions through support for growth-orientated SMEs. The new measures will focus on selected areas with particular needs, such as those which suffer from severe economic downturn, coalfield communities, cities and towns with severe joblessness and coastal towns and countryside areas suffering from a particular steep decline in traditional employment opportunities. Links will be developed with other Government programmes that are designed to combat deprivation in these areas -

complementing action being taken to tackle social exclusion

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