Effectiveness of RGF could be boosted by Growth Voucher scheme

19th October 2012

Commenting on the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister of successful bidders in the latest round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: -We are pleased that the £1bn promised for the third round of the Regional Growth Fund has been allocated to projects that will spur business investment and job creation in the regions.

However, pace is critical. Many RGF projects have been delayed by bureaucratic hurdles, meaning that they have not yet started to have an impact on the ground. Some bidders have even withdrawn, meaning that over £100m has been recycled back into the fund. -Ministers should take a bold step and use RGF funding to introduce a Growth Voucher scheme, which would get support to the businesses quickly. The £100m scheme could give 20,000 businesses with clear growth plans up to £5,000 each to get help with the planning system, advice on accessing finance, or growing their staff. Growth Vouchers would have an immediate impact and would complement the RGF schemes being taken forward by bigger companies. -The government should also consider a second voucher scheme that would provide support for companies that need help with exporting. Together with Growth Vouchers, Export Vouchers would build confidence and help kick-start the rebalancing of the UK economy.

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