Regional Growth Fund projects selected

The Government said the £1.05bn third round of the RGF would allow companies to “expand their operations, create new jobs and stimulate growth”, reports The Telegraph.

From 414 applications, the 130 selected bidders range from drugs giant AstraZeneca to fashion company Barbour, engineering firm Dyson and car makers Jaguar and Aston Martin.

Local Enterprise Partnerships, the business-led growth bodies which replaced the Regional Development Agencies, secured a combined £344m.

A number of smaller companies, such as Pailton Engineering, a Coventry manufacturer of steering systems, also secured funds. At least £23m went to small and medium-sized firms. Michael Fallon, the business minister, will be providing details of a broader package of support for mid-sized firms at the Telegraph’s Festival of Business in Manchester today.

The Government said that for every £1 of taxpayer money spent, the RGF “will leverage £6 of private sector investment”. It added that this round will “create and safeguard” 240,000 jobs.

However, the RGF, which provides loans and grants to businesses in areas hit by public sector cuts, was criticised by the National Audit Office in May. It found that the RGF had not prioritised “value for money”, with a significant proportion of its investments “allocated to projects that offer relatively few jobs for the money invested”.

In July, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales said the RGF was being undermined by a catalogue of errors, lost documents, bureaucracy and misunderstandings.

The Government added that bidders have begun to “report back on jobs which demonstrate that over 10,000 jobs have been created and protected so far”.

The Coalition has boasted that the earlier rounds would eventually “safeguard” more than 300,000 jobs.

It is understood that improving the efficiency of the RGF was one of the reasons Mr Fallon was brought into the Business Department in the recent reshuffle. He has put a six-month deadline on final offers being agreed and due diligence being completed on the current round in an effort to avoid the delays that plagued the first two rounds.