The business department’s “alarmingly slow progress” in approving £450m worth of regional growth fund bids is stopping regions hit by public sector cuts from securing “vital” support, Labour’s shadow business minister has warned.
As LGC revealed last month, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills has completed the process of due diligence and approved just one the 50 successful bids to the first round of the regional growth fund, which were initially announced in April.
In a letter to business minister Mark Prisk, Gordon Marsden said the RGF was “set up to be a central mechanism to promote growth as well as supporting areas affected by this government’s public sector spending cuts” and it was “vital” that the projects selected across the regions received the money “as soon as possible”.
“This alarmingly slow progress is surely inadequate - not least given the current economic climate and rising unemployment across the English regions,” he said.
Mr Marsden also questioned whether the second round RGF awards, due to be annoucned in the autumn, would need to be “substantially delayed as a knock on effect from the first round problems”.
A DBIS spokesman confirmed that still only one bid had been approved.
He said the department hoped that the due diligence on the remaining 49 successful bids, which shared a £450m pot, would be completed “in the autumn”.
“Due diligence takes a different length of time for each bidder, and it is important that we ensure any investment provides value for money for the taxpayer,” he said.