Delays of £900m hit regional jobs fund

THE Government’s flagship regional jobs programme is facing delays holding back £900m.

Coalition Ministers have been told more must be done to ensure money allocated in the regional growth fund finds its way down to firms across the UK.

Labour last night pointed to the scheme’s annual report as proof that much of the £3.2bn fund is unspent.

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The most recent parliamentary figures for the fund, released to shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, show that in Yorkshire £94m of the £208m allocated to the region had not been drawn down before the summer.

Mr Umunna said: “The Conservative Party came to office promising to rebalance Britain’s economy across all the regions with an export and investment led boom, and have failed.

“They abolished Regional Development Agencies without putting in place a proper replacement and their flagship Regional Growth Fund has been mired in chaos and delay.

“Now the Government’s own figures show the scheme failing to meet its private investment target by almost £1bn.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business said Government funds were helping create jobs in the regions.

“Over the last year alone the Regional Growth Fund has more than doubled its impact and has secured the jobs it pledged to – over 80,000 direct jobs have been delivered, every one of them outside London. The amount of private sector funding leveraged has doubled from less than £1bn last year to over £2bn.

“For every £1 of Government support, the private sector puts in £5.50. This compares to just 65p of private money secured by the Regional Development Agencies for every pound they spent.”