Red tape fears at 6th Growth Fund

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Local businesses will be able to bid for a share of £200m from round six of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.

The Government has so far allocated £150m from the first five rounds of the fund to support 25 projects and programmes across the East Midlands, safeguarding thousands of jobs which could stimulate £1bn of private sector investment.

However, red tape and delays in releasing funding from previous bidding rounds means that nationally only £492m of the £2.6bn allocated via the Regional Growth Fund has so far actually reached the successful bidders.

George Cowcher, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, said: “Although businesses will welcome the opportunity to bid for cash from a further round of the Regional Growth Fund, very real concerns remain about how easy it is for firms to access this money.

“The National Audit Office reported a few months ago that only 19 per cent of funding allocated to successful bids in the previous five RGF rounds has been released.

“The RGF was set up to boost private sector growth and job creation, to rebalance the economy away from London and the South East and underpin the UK’s economic recovery.

“As such, it’s absolutely crucial that local organisations work together in partnership to overcome any unnecessary bureaucracy and delays to ensure the money reaches the businesses and initiatives which need it.”

In Sheffield City Region some £28m was allocated to 88 projects by January 2014.