Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cameron's Regional Growth Fund runs risk of Dragon's Den comparison

David Cameron and Lord Heseltine have unveiled their Regional Growth Fund - yet the announcement adds no clarity to how regional economies will benefit any further than they did under the previous Government's system of RDAs.

The reason it's not clear is that it is all rather ambiguous, it seems to tick the boxes of what regional business leaders will want to hear without the concrete detail. So we're told that regions heavily reliant on public sector spending will have a better chance of succeeding in the applications - what he taketh away with one hand...

My view is that this policy should have had clearer messaging. It's all coming across a bit Dragon's Den. The rich London kids in the middle are offering the poor people the chance to pitch their crazy 'Northern' ideas - I can imagine many of the Treasury team will find it quite natural to say 'I'm out'.

It's another example of how the Coalition isn't connecting regionally. In the North West, Vince Cable this week ran a comment in Insider magazine outlining his hope for regional growth in 2011

On the same day, Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese warned 2011 could be 'awful' as the private sector comes under pressure to fill the gap left by savage cuts

I'm not saying these opposing views are unusual (!) but the point is these two articles came into my inbox on the same email - clearly highlighting the lack of confidence currently inspired by the current plan reducing small business rates and the new Regional Growth Fund.

Will regional business eventually be inspired by what they are hearing or will it need more than the Dragon's Den to resurface from the economic slump? I'll ask Evan Davis...

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