Whichever political Party was in Government was going to have to reduce public expenditure dramatically. Indeed, the bulk of the savings being looked for by the new Coalition Government was already planned by the last Labour Government.

This is going to have a significant impact in the North East. Despite spiralling Government expenditure in our region our rate of business start ups have been amongst the lowest in the country. The private sector, although thriving in parts, is smaller and less well placed to compensate when the public sector shrinks than other parts of the country.

The Regional Development Agency, One North East, is going to be replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships, and many people in our region are very exercised about structures

I think we need to get as much tangible support for new and developing business in this region. However, I am rather more concerned about how many businesses we can help rather than which body is established to distribute funds.

The region has secured large sums of money for business through the “Geremie” Funds. These are being distributed to businesses in the North East through five “approved” venture capital funds. This is money going direct to business creation, often matching private investment funds.

Surely the most significant opportunity for our region is to win as much as possible of the Coalition Government’s new billion pound Regional Growth Fund. Shouldn’t we be making the case to secure at least 20% of this – say £200m for our region? Wouldn’t we have the best chances of winning the most money if we sent any money we can win direct to businesses and as little as possible is spent processing it.

I am not convinced that we need RDAs, LEPs, councils or any other type of bureaucrat with these funds. However, we would need business organisations in the region to come together and make the case to get the maximum amount of help and to direct it to the publically approved venture capital funds we already have.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the sooner we focus on increasing the size of the pie we have, rather than fighting over how we share it out, the happier I will be.

CONTACT: Helen Logan on 01325 363436



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