Thomas Bridge 29 January 2015

Growth Deals expanded with £1bn injection

The Government has invested a further £1bn in local Growth Deals, in moves Nick Clegg claims mark ‘the death of the culture where Whitehall calls the shots’.

Ministers today confirmed agreements had been reached with all 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to significantly expand the deals struck last July. It is anticipated that by devolving funding to local authorities, businesses, colleges and universities, the Government will help build thousands of new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure projects.

Major projects being taken forward under the expanded Growth Deals include a £17m investment in improvements to the A23000 Burgess Hill link road, £8.7m to create new training facilities in Greater Birmingham and Solihull and around £6m to bring forward housing sites in the Black Country.

Yet Labour accused the Government of failing to properly support LEPs and opposing plans to hand local areas greater power and budgets to drive growth.

Prime minister David Cameron said: ‘Giving local communities the power and the money to unlock growth and development and make the spending decisions that work for them is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain and ensure a recovery for all.

‘That’s what Growth Deals are all about, backing local people and investing in the infrastructure, housing and skills that will drive forward local economies, create more jobs and opportunities for hardworking people and supercharge all parts of our country.’

Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, added: ‘A quiet revolution is underway in regions across the country and Growth Deals signal the death of the culture where Whitehall calls the shots. I’ve seen for myself the difference it makes to give local areas real power over skills, over business support, and over infrastructure spending.’

Responding to the news, Labour’s shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, said: ‘The Tory-led Government came into office five years ago promising to rebalance Britain’s economy but instead we’ve seen things go into reverse. They abolished the Regional Development Agencies without a proper replacement – a decision which even the Business Secretary now admits caused chaos. Local Enterprise Partnerships have not been properly supported, coverage has been patchy and we’ve seen the Government’s flagship scheme, the Regional Growth Fund, dogged by chaos and delay.’

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