Two cheers for Spending Review

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Government plans to focus spending on major infrastructure projects have been welcomed by leading business figures.

However, some remain worried that insufficient money is being provided for Local Enterprise Partnerships, including the Sheffield City Region LEP, to stimulate local economies.

Andy Tüscher, regional director of the manufacturers’ organisation, the EEF, said the commitment to infrastructure projects in Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Spending Review was “long overdue,” but warned the record on delivering major infrastructure projects was “woeful”.

Mr Tüscher said starting off with a small “Single Pot” fund for LEPs gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their value in important areas before being allowed to spend more taxpayers money. However, Ian Looker, PwC Yorkshire partner and government and public sector expert, warned: “We’re going backwards in real terms.”

Mr Looker said giving LEPs less money than their predecessors, the Regional Development Authorities, was “not a strong signal to businesses that want to get involved in delivering growth on the ground in their areas”.

Sheffield businessman and Federation of Small Businesses regional chairman, Gordon Millward, welcomed the Government’s commitment to invest in energy production, which he hoped would lead to more stability in energy bills for businesses.

Mr Millward also welcomed a commitment to new flood defences, but said there was an urgent need to renew an agreement between the Government and the insurance industry to ensure flood threatened businesses could still insure themselves.