The government is calling on local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) in England and local authorities in Scotland and Wales to identify their economic priorities in disadvantaged local areas.
This information will help the government to produce the 2014 to 2020 Assisted Areas Map. Assisted Areas are locations where regional aid to support businesses can be offered by public authorities under EU legislation.
Local priorities gathered in this consultation process will inform the development of a draft Assisted Area Map, which will be published as part of a second consultation in the winter. The final Map will come into force from July 2014 after it has been agreed by UK ministers and the European Commission. The current 2007-2013 Map will remain in effect until 30 June 2014.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said:
Assisted Area status is important to get right as it can provide additional economic support for places that need it the most – encouraging businesses to grow, innovate and thrive.
Local leaders and businesses are best placed to know what’s needed in their area, so that’s why we want their views.
In England, LEPs are already working on Strategic Economic Plans, or Growth Deals, which enable LEPs to negotiate with central government for wider powers and influence over the key interventions to promote growth, including for a share of a £2 billion-a-year Single Local Growth Fund. Alongside this they are leading on the development of strategies on how the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme will be best used in their local areas. It is expected that understanding priorities for Assisted Areas status will go hand in hand with this work.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments will have key roles to play in choosing Assisted Areas in Scotland and Wales. Other stakeholders such as business and local development groups will also be encouraged to take part in this consultation.
The consultation will close on 30 September 2013.
Notes to editors
A copy of the consultation document can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/assisted-areas-map-2014-to-2020
The timetable for stage 1 of the consultation closely follows the publication of the 2014-2020 Regional Aid Guidelines by the European Commission in late June. These set the rules within which EU Member States draw their regional aid maps.
A draft 2014 to 2020 UK Assisted Areas Map will then be offered for consultation in winter 2013 to 2014. The 2014 to 2020 Map is expected to come into force on 1 July 2014. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will shortly notify the European Commission that the UK plans to take up the option for the 2007 to 2013 UK Assisted Areas Map to remain in effect until 30 June 2014.
The UK government announced on 14 June 2013 that Northern Ireland would retain 100% Assisted Area status coverage for at least the medium term.
For 2014 to 2020 the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme will include the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
- to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe
Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.