Nick Clegg: Kick-start will help foot growth costs

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WHENEVER I come back up to Yorkshire I’m always struck by the dedication, passion and creativity of the people who live and work here.

This is a great region, one where people are thinking big, setting up businesses, expanding their horizons and striving for more.

As the UK economy continues its recovery, more and more companies up and down the country are looking to the future and planning for growth. And I’m glad to see that companies are finally getting their confidence back.

That’s why the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) is so important to Yorkshire and the Humber, and indeed, every region across England.

This pot of money exists to help companies kick-start investment in projects with the genuine potential to boost local opportunities and prosperity. It is how we can best secure the future for local families, local firms and local jobs.

This means ensuring Britain’s businesses – big and small – make more, export more and, most importantly for me, hire and develop the talented people they need.

And we want to ensure that every region across the country gets the chance to benefit.

Britain needs a strong economy, where growth is balanced and sustainable and everyone, whatever their background or circumstances, can get on.

This region has seen first hand how the Regional Growth Fund can help companies and their local communities thrive and I want to use this opportunity to further encourage more businesses to throw their hats into the ring and really take advantage of what this scheme has to offer.

But I also want to pay tribute to the ambitious home-grown British businesses who are already using the Regional Growth Fund to fund new projects, attract investment and help build a stronger local economy.

I recently visited two companies – storage box company Really Useful Products in Normanton and bed manufacturer Harrison Spinks in Leeds – who between them received £3m in regional growth funding which will in turn give an economic boost to the local economy.

This investment has given them the chance to expand their business and create a combined 313 new jobs for local people.

I’m very pleased to announce a further £15m investment for businesses in the region, which is being given to fund four projects in the fifth round of the Regional Growth Fund.

We’re expecting this to raise £120m of additional private investment, as well as create and safeguard thousands of local jobs.

When added to the success of the first four rounds, this represents a total of £270m of Regional Growth Fund funding for 52 Yorkshire and Humber projects and programmes, £1.7bn of private sector investment raised, and tens of thousands of jobs created in the long term.

Two more successful bidders from this region – Reckitt Benckiser in Hull and 
UK Steel Enterprise Ltd – join Really Useful Products in this fifth round of funding.

It is companies like this that are leading the charge in helping us to build a stronger economy for Britain. We want to ensure businesses of all sectors and sizes are equipped to compete on the world stage; with companies benefiting to the tune of £3.2bn from the Regional Growth Fund in total, and leading to over 500,000 jobs being created or safeguarded.

Small and medium firms are also receiving significant support to develop and grow, with 3,500 SMEs receiving RGF funding.

Today’s funding from round five of the RGF is expected to unlock £2.2bn of additional private sector investment and create or safeguard thousands of jobs, while also supporting thousands of jobs in the supply chains.

I want to see a thriving local economy in every region, with vibrant and exciting businesses.

That’s how we create genuine opportunities for people to progress, especially young people who want to continue their studies, start apprenticeships and develop their skills to forge careers for themselves.

So I, as a proud Yorkshire MP, will do all I can to ensure this coalition Government continues to invest in regions like Yorkshire and Humber, helping to create a stronger economy and fairer society across the country.