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BIS anounces £60m investment to create 8,000 regional jobs


A £60 million investment from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) was signalled yesterday by business secretary Vince Cable at the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA) annual conference. It is expected to create over 8,000 jobs, in deprived areas.

The CDFA will receive £30 million from the Government's RGF, matched with a further £30 million by the Co-operative Bank and Unity Trust Bank to provide lending to small, micro and social enterprises.

The department for business, innovation and skills (BIS) has claimed this funding will help meet some of the growing demand from small businesses for access to finance and drive investment in often fragmented communities.

Speaking at the conference, Cable said: "We need effective channels to support small businesses, which is why the CDFA and its members are so important for providing access to finance and kick-starting the economy."

He added: "Regional Growth Fund programmes such as this one have already awarded SMEs over 500 grants and loans across the country. This is an excellent way to get value for money, but more importantly, it is a good way to focus on local priorities for growth, as most programmes are led by local partners.

"RGF is leading the way in rebalancing the economy and boosting business and industry."

As a joint investor with the Government and Co-operative Bank, the managing director of Unity Trust Bank, Richard Wilcox said: "Banks have a responsibility to help build strong, stable communities where business can thrive and people are secure in their jobs.

"As a social enterprise ourselves, Unity Trust's £15 million support to the CDFA and the Regional Growth Fund builds on our long-held commitment to the social economy sector as a powerful engine for growth, jobs, enterprise and positive social change in communities that need it most."

The RGF is a £2.4 billion fund operating across England from 2011 to 2015. It supports projects and programmes with significant potential for economic growth that can create additional, sustainable private sector employment.