Ministers have vowed to speed up the distribution of Regional Growth Fund cash after West Midlands firms were awarded £124 million in the final round of the Government scheme designed to create jobs.
The region won more cash than any other part of the country in a competition overseen by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister. A panel chaired by Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, assessed each bid.
And another £20 million was awarded to Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership to distribute to small and medium sized businesses involved in “green” technology.
The funding is the final stage of the £2.4 billion regional growth fund, set up by the Government to help firms create jobs in areas hit by public sector spending cuts.
A total of 31 West Midlands bids for cash were approved in the first two rounds of the RGF, in April 2011 and October 2011. Of these, 19 schemes are under way and eight have received funding.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said he had ordered officials to speed up the process following complaints about delays. He said: “What’s different from rounds one and two is we’ve had a higher quality of bid.
LEPs have got used to the system now. We will be getting money out of the door much faster.
“I have set a firm time limit of three months for the company concerned to finalise the offer. And then a further three months for due diligence, which means that the £1 billion will be available from April.
“Now many will do better than that. Some projects will start straight away. The latest round of funding includes grants to 16 firms as well as to the University of Wolverhampton, which will pass funding on to smaller businesses.
A total of 43,890 jobs will be created or safeguarded in the region as a result, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.