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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Furness misses out on hundreds of jobs

FURNESS has missed out on hundreds of potential new jobs from a government funding scheme.

The coalition government scrapped the Grants for Business Investment (GBI) and regional development agencies shortly after coming into power, replacing them with the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Since it was launched two years ago, the RGF scheme has awarded £1.4bn to businesses in a bid to create economic growth and long-term employment.

But the new fund has come under fire from the National Audit Office (NAO), which claims the scheme has been spending as much as £200,000 to generate just one job.

And Harry Knowles, chief executive of Furness Enterprise, said the Furness area has not had one bid to the RGF accepted.

He claims the fund is “harshly competitive” and said his organisation has had three bids rejected, one of which he believes would have created up to 400 jobs. Mr Knowles said: “It (RGF) has drawbacks and we would prefer to go back to the GBI, which was a much more flexible fund.

“However, given RGF is the only show in town, we have made a number of applications, unsuccessfully, but the current success rate in terms of applications submitted and those accepted, is only 18 per cent and the bids take a much longer time to be processed than with the GBI.”

The NAO, the government’s spending watchdog, estimates 41,000 extra jobs could be created in the economy over the next seven years by the RGF, but so far, no companies or organisations across Furness have been successful with bids for funding.

The NAO’s report said: “The cost per net additional job supported by the fund varies from under £4,000 to over £200,000.”

The auditors indicated the fund was not performing any better than previous equivalents under Labour and Furness Enterprise claim Barrow, and the wider Furness area, benefited more under the previous scheme.

Mr Knowles added: “One of our unsuccessful RGF bids was to operate a grant scheme to be used to provide smaller grants to companies. We were talking about creating about 400 jobs.”

Cumbrian companies which have been successful in bids to the RGF are Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon in Kendal, Pirelli Tyres in Carlisle, Energy Coast West Cumbria and the Stobart Group in Carlisle.

Have your say

All there is is Mr Knowles guess of how many jobs may have been created if his quango's bids were accepted. Not quite the same line as the headline suggests.

Posted by Tony on 15 May 2012 at 16:16

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